Got Your 6 today announced the awarding of 13 new projects with its 6 Certified designation, reserved for films, television, theatrical, and digital content that normalizes depictions of veterans as leaders and community assets.
The projects range from CBS’s “Criminal Minds,” Netflix’s “Five Came Back” the upcoming documentary “The Vietnam War” directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, and the Bleecker Street/LD Entertainment film “Megan Leavey” opening June 9.
“The military is an ever-present fixture in film, theater, and television, and whether it creates the setting for the storyline or offers insights into a character’s past, it gives viewers a sense of what military service is all about,” said 6 Certified Review Committee member Bonnie Carroll, president and founder of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). “Got Your 6’s certification program provides a vital service, carefully screening films to recognize honorable portrayals and accurate depictions of veterans, elevating the entire entertainment industry to a higher standard.”
“I love to see that ‘veteran’ doesn’t have to be a defining characteristic of a character; it can just be an aspect of who they are or that their life was enriched by service,” said review committee member Rory Brosius, vice president of ScoutComms. Referring to the film “Megan Leavey,” she said, “I thought that Megan’s story and struggle with transition seemed real, accurate, and most importantly hopeful. The film did not shy away from what can be a truly challenging portion of the veteran transition: finding a new mission in life. While some of the story may be fictionalized, this is an important narrative for our community.”
Got Your 6 announced the following projects were awarded with 6 Certified status:
“American Veteran” – The feature length documentary tells the story of U.S. Army Sergeant Nick Mendes, who was paralyzed from the neck down by a 500 pound improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in 2011. The documentary follows Nick for five years following the explosion as he rebuilds his life and falls in love with Wendy, an extraordinary medical caregiver he meets in a VA hospital. The film chronicles his long recovery, struggles, and pain, but never perpetuates the stereotype of the “wounded veteran.” BetterThanFiction Productions
“Criminal Minds” – The long-running American police crime drama, set primarily at the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) based in Quantico, Virginia, follows a group of FBI profilers who catch various criminals through behavioral profiling. The plot focuses on the team’s cases and their personal lives, depicting the hardened life and statutory requirements of a profiler. Actor Joe Mantegna plays Supervisory Special Agent David Rossi, a senior level profiler who happens to be a Vietnam veteran as well as a moral core of the show. His service is primarily mentioned in passing, depicting his veteran status as one of many characteristics as opposed to defining his identity. The Mark Gordon Company, ABC Studios, CBS Television Studios
“Fences” – Directed by Denzel Washington with a screenplay by August Wilson based upon his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “Fences” follows Troy Maxson in 1950s Pittsburgh as he fights to provide for those he loves. Troy once dreamed of a baseball career, but was deemed too old when the major leagues began admitting black players. He tries to be a good husband and father, but his lost dream of glory eats at him, and causes him to make a decision that threatens to tear his family apart. Troy’s brother Gabriel, a disabled veteran, acts as a shining beacon of hope, despite his traumatic backstory. Gabriel is a fresh take on the sorts of wounds soldiers endure and showcases the strength of the human spirit. Paramount Pictures, in association with Bron Creative and Macro Media
“Five Came Back” – Netflix’s “Five Came Back” is a three-part adaptation of Mark Harris’ bestseller, directed by Laurent Bouzereau. Meryl Streep narrates Harris’ story of how five esteemed Hollywood directors – Frank Capra (“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”), George Stevens (“Swing Time”), William Wyler (“The Letter,” “Jezebel”), John Ford (“Stagecoach,” “The Grapes of Wrath”), and John Huston (“The Maltese Falcon”) – volunteered to make propaganda films for the United States and its fighting corps. For the adaptation, it was Bouzereau’s vision to ask five current filmmakers – Guillermo del Toro, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Lawrence Kasdan and Paul Greengrass – to consider the Hollywood quintet who went to war and returned forever altered by what they saw and did. Amblin Television, IACF Productions, Netflix, Passion Pictures, Rock Paper Scissors Entertainment
“Megan Leavey” – This film is based on the true life story of a young U.S. Marine corporal (played by Kate Mara) whose unique discipline and bond with her military combat dog saved many lives during their deployment in Iraq. Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite (“Blackfish”) and written by Pamela Gray, Annie Mumolo, and Tim Lovestedt, the film documents their journey of more than 100 missions until an IED explosion injures them. Bleecker Street/LD Entertainment
“Sand Castle” – Set in Iraq in 2003, “Sand Castle” follows a platoon of U.S. Army soldiers in the early days of Iraq War. Inexperienced Private Matt Ocre (played by Nicolas Hoult) and his unit are ordered to the outskirts of the village Baqubah to repair a water pumping station damaged by U.S. bombs. Ocre struggles with the true cost of war and learns that trying to win the hearts and minds of the locals is a task fraught with danger. The film was written by U.S. Army veteran and Tillman Scholar, Chris Roessner. Treehouse Pictures, Voltage Pictures, 42/Automatik, Netflix
“Seeing Blind” – A digital short produced by Crown Royal as part of its “Living Generously” campaign, “Seeing Blind” tells the story of U.S. Army Major Scotty Smiley, a combat veteran who was blinded in Iraq and continued to serve in active duty for another decade as the Army’s first blind commander. To thank Major Smiley for his service, Crown Royal paired him with internationally renowned poet Matthew Dickman to help him visualize his hometown of Pasco, Wash., in a poetic new way. Good Company
“Seven Dates With Death” – This moving documentary short is about Moreese Bickham, a man jailed for an act of self-defense who survives half his life in prison by holding onto his faith, resilience, and hope. Viewers don’t learn he is a veteran until the end credits when an American flag is draped on his coffin at his funeral; however, this symbolic end showcases the depth of Moreese’s life and sacrifice. The short documentary is currently playing in film festivals across the U.S. and London and is expected to be publicly released by the end of 2017. Executive Producers Joan M. Cheever, Mike Holland
“Taken” – A television series based on the “Taken” film trilogy, this series acts as a modern day origin story for former Green Beret Bryan Mills (played by Clive Standen), who overcomes a personal tragedy while starting his career as a special intelligence operative. As a former CIA agent and post-9/11 veteran, Mills has spontaneous flashbacks to his military service. While the show touches on his service, it allows the audience to be empathetic with his experience and the skills learned while in uniform. “Taken” consulted with Got Your 6 team members on specific issues regarding active duty service and veteran reintegration. FLW Films, Universal Television, Europacorp Television, NBC
“The Vietnam War” – This 10-part documentary film series directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick will air on PBS in September 2017. In an immersive 360-degree narrative, Burns and Novick tell the epic story of the Vietnam War through the testimony from nearly 100 witnesses, including many American veterans who served in the war and others who opposed it, as well as Vietnamese combatants and civilians from both the winning and losing sides. Florentine Films, PBS
“This is Us” – This hit American television series stars Milo Ventimiglia (Jack) and Mandy Moore (Rebecca), parents of triplets – two natural-born and one adopted after their third child is stillborn. The series follows siblings Kate, Kevin and Randall as their lives intertwine. After 18 episodes, it is revealed that Jack – who must balance being the best father he can be with the struggles of supporting for his family of five – is a Vietnam War veteran. This dramedy challenges everyday presumptions about how well we think we know the people around us. Rhode Island Ave. Productions, Zaftig Films, 20th Century Fox Television, NBC
“VOW” (digital shorts) – “VOW” (Veterans Operation Wellness) is a Spike campaign created to inspire veterans to make the same commitment to their health and wellness that they made to their country. Two of the campaign’s digital shorts, “Operation Surf Helps Returning Soldiers” and “NYC Veterans Day Parade 2016,” were awarded 6 Certified status. In addition to featuring inspiring veterans, the shorts serve to motivate civilians to connect with veterans through community-building events and activities. Witness Films, Viacom
“When We Rise” – This four-part mini-series event which chronicles the real-life personal and political struggles, set-backs, and triumphs of a diverse family of LGBTQ men and women who helped pioneer the last legs of the U.S. Civil Rights movement. Ken Jones (played by Michael K. Williams and Jonathan Majors), an African-American Vietnam veteran, joined the gay-liberation movement in San Francisco, only to discover and confront racism within the gay men’s community. For years he organized services for homeless youth, worked to diversify the gay movement, and led efforts to confront the devastation of the AIDS epidemic. ABC Studios
Got Your 6 launched the 6 Certified initiative in early 2015 as a way to challenge industry executives and content creators to craft more thoughtful narratives around veterans and military families. Since the launch, 54 projects have been certified, including Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Sully,” Lionsgate’s “Hacksaw Ridge,” and Universal Pictures’ “Jurassic World,” as well as episodes and seasons of Netflix’s “Marvel’s Luke Cage,” FX’s “Justified,” Fox’s “Gotham,” FX’s “Fargo,” and ABC’s “Modern Family.”
To become 6 Certified, a project must contain a representative and balanced depiction of veterans and fulfill at least one of the following pledges:
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Research or consult with real veterans, family members, or subject matter experts in an effort to create accurate representations
CAST A VETERAN
Hire a veteran actor to play a substantial role
HIRE A VETERAN WRITER
Employ a veteran writer to contribute to the narrative
PORTRAY A VETERAN CHARACTER
Develop a multi-dimensional veteran character
TELL A VETERAN STORY
Develop a narrative with meaningful and accurate veteran themes
USE VETERANS AS RESOURCES ON SET OR IN WRITERS’ ROOMS
Have veterans present for consultation throughout the filmmaking process
After the project has met the requirements for certification, it may be submitted by a studio or production company once the project enters post-production. After the submission is complete, the project is evaluated by the 6 Certified Review Committee, an independent group of subject matter experts who review all submissions and grant 6 Certified status.
The current members of the 6 Certified Review Committee include: Bruce Cohen, producer of “American Beauty” and “Silver Linings Playbook”; Greg Silverman, founder, Stampede Ventures; Charlie Ebersol, chairman and founder of The Company; Rory Brosius, vice president of ScoutComms, Bonnie Carroll, president and founder of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS); Tim Norman, director of human resources, DreamWorks Animation; Seth Smith, former director of campaigns and programming for Participant Media; Marjorie Williams, vice president, business and legal affairs, Endemol Shine North America; and Bill Rausch, executive director of Got Your 6.
Additional information on certification is available at gotyour6.org/6-certified.
The 6 Certified program is operated by Got Your 6, the national veteran organization that empowers veterans to lead a resurgence of community across the nation. The organization believes veterans return home as leaders and team builders and is named after the military term meaning “I’ve got your back.”