Feature

The action movie starring real Navy SEALs

Before Hollywood could cast a Navy SEAL movie, some of the elite commandos are going ahead and starring in one themselves

In the wake of last month's dramatically successful Navy SEAL mission to kill Osama bin Laden, Hollywood producers are desperate to crank out a movie portraying the events. But first, moviegoers will get an intimate look at the elite military unit in another Navy SEAL movie, starring real Navy SEALs. Here, a brief instant guide:

What is the film?Called Act of Valor, it will tell the story of a SEAL squad on a mission to find a kidnapped CIA agent and take down some terrorists. The main themes are said to be "that a SEAL's work is never done and that it involves extraordinary talent and dedication."

Was the film conceived after the successful SEAL mission to kill Osama bin Laden? No, it's been two years in the making and was recently completed. So as other filmmakers put together their projects focusing on the SEALs, Relativity Media is reportedly planning to release Act of Valor in 2012. Some are betting it will be released around a patriotic holiday such as Presidents' or Veterans Day. And it's not the only SEAL project in the pipeline. Katherine Bigelow, the Oscar-winning director of The Hurt Locker, is also working on one.

Who are the filmmakers?The film was made by an independent studio called Bandito Brothers, and directed by Scott Waugh and Mike McCoy. They have worked together on action-packed documentaries, incuding one on the Navy, and done stunts in larger films. The script was written by Kurt Johnstad, who worked on the screenplay for 300. Reportedly, they kept the budget as low as $15 million by using mobile Canon cameras and working with the Navy on action sequences, like high-altitude parachute jumps, that otherwise would have cost a fortune.Why was the Navy so cooperative?For one thing, it gets to keep the raw footage for promotional purposes. But the main reason is that it was the Navy that conceived the project in the first place. After Sept. 11, the Defense Department sought to beef up its special-operations forces, which meant adding 500 SEALs to the existing force of 2,450. Capt. Duncan Smith, a SEAL spokesman, launched PR and recruitment efforts, and decided a feature film about the SEALs would help. He got proposals from several filmmakers, and the Bandito Brothers, who had previously worked on Navy commercials, won.

Who are the SEALs featured in the film?Fourteen SEALs near the end of their deployment years were selected for the cast. Initially, all said no. "That actually reassured me that I picked the right men," Smith says. "They joined the SEALs to get real work done, not be in Hollywood movies. But they were told this would be a legitimate task." For security and anonymity reasons, the SEALs' real last names will not be featured in the credits.

Sources: Film School Rejects, IMDB, New York (2), San Francisco Chronicle

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