By Gary SheftickMarch 19, 2009
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 19, 2009) -- Producing the film "Brothers at War," has been a personal crusade for Jake Rademacher.
His two younger brothers were putting their lives on the line in Iraq and he wanted to know why. He also wanted to accurately portray what Soldiers and their families were going through, he said.
So he set off to Iraq with a small film crew to embed with his brother Isaac's unit, the 82nd Airborne Division's Long Range Surveillance Company in Mosul.
Jake said his crew shot about 400 hours of high-definition video to produce the documentary which runs just under two hours.
The film opens over the next two weeks in 21 cities from North Carolina to California. Last weekend's premiere in Fayetteville, N.C., had three shows a day sold out, Jake said. The film there did better in the box office there than any hit opening that week, he said.
It did just about as well in Columbus, Ga., where his brother Staff Sgt. Joe Rademacher joined Jake for the premiere Friday night and Fort Benning troops flocked to the theater.
Warfighters have "a powerful reaction" to the film Jake said. He explained that the documentary "digs into the true life of what these military families are going through."
John Ondrasik recorded an original song for the movie's soundtrack. Ondrasik, of "Five for Fighting" fame, viewed an early rough-cut screening of the film and said he was so inspired that he went home and wrote the song "Brothers in Arms" two hours later.
Jake's quest to produce the film began about five years ago. Before he could even get to Iraq, he had to show that he was with a legitimate film company. He founded Metanoia Films and since then has raised a couple million dollars to fund the project.
At first Jake even had trouble convincing his brother, then-Capt. Isaac Rademacher, about the project's value, said David Scantling, now one of the film's executive producers.
Jake argued that he would show what the news media didn't: the rebuilding of schools, hospitals and clinics and the training of Iraqi Security Force personnel. But that's not what convinced Isaac, Scantling said.
"Jake convinced Isaac - you need to do this for your daughter, Hunter," Scantling said. The film would endeavor to show her why dad spent so long away from home.
The film footage in Iraq was shot in 2005 and early 2006. Jake embedded with four different combat units, including a Marine unit in Al Anbar and a National Guard sniper unit.
Filming patrols in Iraq, though, didn't end the battle to produce the movie.
"It's been quite a journey to get this film in and around the Hollywood system," said producer Scantling, who before he became involved with the documentary served as a DOD official working toward economic development in Iraq.
"This film accurately portrays, in my view, what I went through," said Scantling, who worked out of the U.S. Embassy in Iraq on and off for four years.
Scantling first viewed a rough cut of the film at a Notre Dame class reunion that Jake attended.
"When I saw the (audience) buzz and reaction, I knew we really had something with this film," Scantling said. He decided soon after to invest in the project and become a producer.
Jake also had teamed up with Norman Powell who helped produce the second season of "24." Actor Gary Senise joined in to help promote and produce the project. Together they got Samuel Goldwin Films to distribute the documentary to theaters.
At a screening of the film at the National Press Club in February, an Iraqi woman stood up and thanked Jake for his accurate portrayal of what was taking place in her country.
The documentary includes moments of suspense and violence, but includes long periods of routine banter between troops and serious discussion between family members, often interspersed with haunting piano chords.
The film opened March 19 in Arlington, Va. It is scheduled to open March 20 in Akron, Ohio. Between March 27 and April 3 it will open in:
Aca,!Ac Clarksville, Tenn.
Aca,!Ac Killeen, Texas
Aca,!Ac San Antonio, Texas
Aca,!Ac Hampton, Va.
Aca,!Ac Dayton, Ohio
Aca,!Ac Lakewood, Wash.
Aca,!Ac Oceanside, Calif.
Aca,!Ac Monterey, Calif.
Aca,!Ac Savannah, Ga.
Aca,!Ac San Diego and several other cities.