I review movies, thus it is assumed I know about movies, so once in awhile I get to work on a movie.
A dozen years ago, I actually starred in two short films for kids. They’re called edutainment. I was Pinky the Painter and one film explained how airports work and the other was about zoos.
More about my acting career another time. Some of what happened to me during the shooting of those shorts is rather funny.
With my movie experience, public relations and media know-how, I was able to land a brief contract to help promote an independent film done by Portland, Ore., filmmaker Eric G. Stacey. The title: Purple Mind.
I wasn’t a lot of help to Eric, but we did become friends and he has introduced me to even more creative and interesting people. But that’s also a story for another day. Today’s topic is his movie.
Purple Mind is about Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) and its effect on the returning soldier, their family and others. The problem is real. And it’s serious and part of what attracted me to the project.
The other attraction was who Stacey cast. Emily Bridges -- Beau’s daughter, Jeff’s niece and Lloyd’s granddaughter -- was among them. Talking to her about her famous acting family was a treat. So was getting to know Will Shepherd, who reminds me of a young Jack Nicholson.
Shepherd won the Best Actor Award at the Bare Bones International Film Festival for his role, and the movie was nominated as Best Drama. It also got noticed with an Indie Award from the Independent Film Festival in Laguna Beach, Calif.
And I’ve gotten to know Eric Stacey, too. He’s an amazing cinematographer and passionate about politics and about PTSD. Stacey wants to make a difference, and he wants his film to make a difference.
Click here to visit the movie's site on Facebook.
Flick Launch also picked it up, and the first 500 checking in and checking out the movie can get a free seven-day rentals. You are encouraged to get there sooner rather than later since no one knows how many have been given out yet.
Even if you are too late, you can still rent the flick for just a $1 via PayPal.
I’m including my review in this post. Yes — I am biased. And I gave the movie praise and let it slide by in areas that other critics likely would not. Let me know what you think of the movie if you check it out.
"The Army trained us to go to war, but nobody trained us to come back."
That statement sums up Purple Mind. After three years of combat in Iraq, Roy Matthews returns to civilian life a wrecked man. Afraid to tell the Army that he’s struggling with what he saw and did in Iraq, Roy keeps it to himself — until it’s almost too late.
Roy suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. Many combat veterans do. PTSD doesn’t just affect the soldier. Families — as seen in Purple Mind — suffer from its impact. There are consequences for society, too. Drinking and drug abuse, violence, crime and even murder haunt society and the soldier suffering PTSD.
This is where we meet Will Hardy Shepherd’s Roy Matthews. Back from Iraq, Roy learns his job is gone. He gets a break when a rancher in Eastern Oregon needs a caretaker and finds a combat vet with a gun to be a great deterrent to cattle thieves. Roy’s first stop upon returning to the U.S. is to pick up a powerful pistol, and he soon packs up the family for what they hope will be a fresh start.
However, he is haunted by the ghost of a woman he encountered in Iraq, and Roy’s behavior grows more bizarre by the day.
Writer/director Eric G. Stacey does a lot of right things with Purple Mind. His first positive move is the casting. Shepherd is a terrific find. Hollywood handsome and charismatic, Shepherd brings incredible intensity to Roy Matthews. His performance, appearance and a killer smile are reminiscent of a young Jack Nicholson. You truly believe Roy is a loose cannon just about ready to go off.
Emily Bridges — Beau’s daughter, Jeff’s niece and Lloyd’s granddaughter — is keeping the family tradition. She’s an exceptional actress. Few young actors have the ability to use facial expressions and mannerisms to get you into the heads of their characters. She openly worries about Roy and about the impact of his insanity on their daughter and her mother, yet Emily also wordlessly injects unfailing optimism and hope into that increasingly hopeless situation.
It’s a great performance that anchors the movie.
Portland actor Corey Brunish plays a local sheriff trying in an unconventional way to steer Roy the right direction. Constantly chewing a wad of gum and the epitome of nonchalance, Brunish chews up the scenery and steals every scene he’s in. It’s a wonderful piece of work that adds a nice touch of needed humor.
Wrapping up the main cast is Brighid Fleming as Roy and Jenna’s 10-year old daughter. Fleming’s work is also outstanding. Like Bridges, she has the ability to convey the working of the inner soul with just a look from her beautiful eyes.
Catherine Johnson is excellent in a supporting role as Jenna’s hapless mom, and Steven White does a veteran job as the councilor who ends up being Roy’s much-needed guardian angel.
Both are superb.
Equally a star is Stacey. He is a brilliant cinematographer. Some of the shots in Purple Mind are as creative and as original as anything done by directing legends Alfred Hitchcock or Steven Spielberg. And both are known for their innovative camera work.
Stacey is in that league. I review a couple of hundred movies a year and rarely do I see one shot as well as Purple Mind. And he did it with an inexpensive Canon camera.
His story isn’t bad either. Operating on the tiniest of budgets, Stacey has written, filmed and made an important statement. Veterans return to much fanfare and hoopla. They’re honored and praised and patted on the back. Then our politicians and those running the military move to the next group of returning soldiers.
Often encouraged not to have problems, the veteran struggling with PTSD tries to keep a low profile. It’s impossible. Suddenly alone and without support, they struggle and many crack.
Roy Matthews’ story has a happy ending. Many PTSD stories do not, and that is Stacey’s underlying message. Our veterans not only deserve our thanks for their sacrifice, but they also need our support when they return from combat. His movie show these men and women should never feel they are alone -- or that no one understands their struggle.