Documentary: The War Tapes


I admire the way Director Deborah Scranton made her feature film directorial debut.

"February 12, 2004, I received an offer from the New Hampshire National Guard to embed as a filmmaker. I called the public affairs officer and asked if I could give cameras to the soldiers instead. He said yes—but it would be up to me to get soldiers to volunteer to work on the project."

"I told them we would do this together. We would tell the story—their story—and go wherever it took us, no matter what. Ten soldiers volunteered. Zack Bazzi, Mike Moriarty, Steve Pink, Duncan Domey and Brandon Wilkins were the five soldiers that filmed the entire year. In total, 21 soldiers contributed to the project."

"Each soldier was given a one-chip Sony MiniDV Camera, tripod, microphones, various lenses, and piles of blank tape. My communication with the soldiers varied: some simply shot footage and turned in their tapes, while others communicated with me regularly via instant messaging and email. Tapes on average took two weeks to get from Iraq to New Hampshire."

"I believe the power of film, image and sound, is in its ability to evoke empathy. If war negates humanity, then film—especially film that shows war from the inside—can ensure that even when we fight, we hold on to and bear witness to our humanity. We found a way in this film to smash through that wall. We found the possibility of empathy in the middle of war."

From her About page:

"Director Deborah Scranton made her feature film directorial debut with the award winning THE WAR TAPES, which premiered at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival and won Best Documentary Feature. THE WAR TAPES grew out of her locally acclaimed World War II television documentary, STORIES FROM SILENCE, WITNESS TO WAR – and her own commitment to using new technologies to give people power in creating their own media, and tell their own stories."

"Declining an offer in 2004 from the New Hampshire National Guard to embed herself as a filmmaker in Iraq, Scranton instead gave the soldiers cameras and trained them as cinematographers. Scranton directed THE WAR TAPES using email and near-perpetual instant messaging with the Soldiers with Cameras to answer questions, share techniques, and explore stories with the soldiers as they filmed their very personal experiences."