By Ziba Kon
In Motion Staff Writer
Senior Professor of Photography Eric Breitenbach recently filmed the “Warrior Project,” a film that recounts the life of veterans during active duty and their life when they get out and venture into the civilian world.
Breitenbach, who has taught at DSC for 36 years, teamed up with Bronwen LLewellyn to create the stirring documentary. An English professor who specializes in the literature of war, LLewellyn came to Breitenbach after her students watched the classic movie “Apocalypse Now.”
After talking Llewellyn about the classroom experience, Breitenbach was inspired and wanted to meet with veterans on campus. When he did, he asked them three things: How did you get into the military? What were your experiences in the military? And how was the transition into civilian life?
Utilizing both professors’ students and the College’s Veteran Center, the two searched for former service members. After about a month they were able to find seven, although there might have been more. Many veterans were reluctant to speak on camera or be interviewed. The main obstacle keeping volunteers for the film from coming forward was trusting the direction the interview would take.
With Llewellyn handling the interviews and Brietenbach handling the filming, lighting, audio and editing, from start to finish, the “Warrior” documentary took three months to complete.
Breitenbach said, “I showed it at the fall planning meeting and three veterans showed up. One of the guys, Robert Gosse, said that he really liked the film. But even when being interviewed he thought it was going to be liberal bias.”
After the fall planning meeting, Breitenbach also had a showing at a faculty meeting and again at a senior administrative staff meeting. “It was left in silence,” after viewing the film, said Breitenbach.
A part of the production was using service photos that each former military member brought in for the film. As mentioned, Gosse was one of the vets featured in the documentary. He is a Marine sergeant who served 13 years as an Expeditionary/Airfield Technician. Before his departure from the military in 2011, he was deployed five times one of which was a mission to Africa.
In regards to his first on-camera experience, “It was a little nervous and nerve-racking not knowing the true intentions of the interviewer,” recalled Gosse, who has worked with the Veterans Center at the Daytona and Deltona campuses since 2015.
He said each service member spent about 30 to 45 minutes talking on their own, separated from each other. Gosse and a few of the others knew each other so it helped build his confidence that this was a great opportunity to talk about veteran’s ordeals. Although questioning was done one-on-one, slowly the answers began to piece together and unfold like a seamless story from one service member to another.
Gosse said, “I am very happy with the way the movie came out. Eric Breitenbach did a very good job kudos to him.”
In honor of all military branches, Daytona State College had a Veterans Day Observance in mid-November. Present at the event were keynote speaker Air Force Lt. Col. Neil Nipper, the Mainland High School JROTC Air Force Color Guard, Rolling Thunder Biker Group and Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 1048. Attended by DSC students, staff and faculty it kicked off with Master of Ceremonies and DSC President Tom Lobasso, a veteran himself.
“Over the years Daytona State College has served thousands of active duty and veterans,” said Dr. LoBasso, who then introduced Student Government President Sophia Rivas.
Rivas talked about veterans being a big part of Florida and said, “We have a fifth of all veterans here in Florida.”
She then introduced keynote speaker Lt. Col. Nipper, who started by saying, “Today is a day to be grateful for all our service members. Today is not a day to forget tragedies, but to put them aside and be grateful.”
“Warrior” can be seen on the DSC Library website by going to http://library.daytonastate.edu/c.php?g=431111&p=5247727