“Getting the cart before the horse” is an English idiom dating back to the 16th Century. It means to do things in the wrong order. In the independent filmmaking world, however, this might be a good idea. In the case I’m considering, two highly creative filmmakers put the cart before the sheep. Specifically, a Black Sheep.
Getting funding for your film is tough because producers get hundreds of screenplays sent their direction every year. One way to get attention is to make the trailer – the coming attractions – for a film before you make the film. Sound backwards? Yes, but that way a producer can evaluate your concept in a few minutes, rather than having to devote hours to reading a script. This can also help with crowdfunding your project. This is the strategy adopted by Austin and Andrea “Crow” Gibson, owners of MadKodey Films, for their project, Black Sheep.
Black Sheep, written by Andrea Gibson, throws an Iraqi combat veteran, suffering from PTSD, into the middle of a battle between law enforcement and an international crime organization specializing in human trafficking. While trying to help, the vet runs into the medic who saved his life in Iraq. Together they fight the criminals who resort to terrorist threats to rescue their leader.
The script has already won multiple awards at film festivals. What sets this film project apart, is that Dallas and Andrea have decided to dedicate 20 percent of the funds they raise for the production to charities which help veterans, service members and first responders.
Talking with the Writer
While doing behind-the-scenes photography for the trailer, I had a chance to chat with Andrea Gibson.
What was your inspiration for this story?
My inspiration came from knowing what a struggle PTSD is for our returning troops. It came from knowing that a lot of soldiers feel guilt when returning home because they made it back and so many others did not. They feel lost because they are without the structure and the mission. Many without a support system feel completely lost and this can lead to depression. That only worsens PTSD and its effects. While movies like Thank You For Your Service are exceptional and show a lot of the struggles, I felt people turn a blind eye to the story because they would rather ignore the struggle that so many of our troops deal with and they simply don’t want to think about it or recognize it.
In writing it, did you draw on any of your own experiences as an Army medic?
In Black Sheep, there is an entertaining story and subplot to draw people to see it, but the real message is that even though PTSD can be a huge obstacle to overcome, people can do it. I also felt the need to show that veterans can still be useful in their communities and lives even after their time in the military ends. My time as a medic definitely was the main inspiration for writing this story. I think especially in these turbulent times, people are afraid of PTSD and I think a lot of this is because they don’t understand it.
In the story, the protagonist gets fired from his job because of his PTSD. Does this really happen?
I know veterans who are not able to hold down normal jobs because their PTSD is so severe. I’m trying to raise money for two charities which help veterans and service members. I also hope that veterans will see the film and appreciate it. It brings awareness to some of the struggles they face and shows them that they are valuable even if at times, they don’t feel they are. I also hope it will help civilians understand some of the struggles that our service members face.
How to Help
You can follow the progress of Black Sheep on the MadKodey Films Facebook page and contribute to the project at its Indiegogo page. Watch the trailer below.
(Photos by author)
Leo, did you WORK on this project as a photographer?