Dallas Texas; June 2015, this writer had come across an ad on Craigslist that detailed a film production was looking for veterans. The ad specifically requested former Special Operations Forces veterans. As a former Special Forces Soldier, I personally decided to inquire. One volunteered services particularly hoping to do some stunt work. That is when my inquiry to the ad led to a response from Joshua “Josh” Cunningham. Josh is the writer, director and star of the upcoming short action film “BLACK FIRE”. Josh immediately began the vetting process to ensure that I was in fact military and that my former SOF credentials checked out. On top of being the one-man film production crew; Josh is a veteran himself. In fact, Josh himself served as a support soldier for the 7th Special Forces Group.
Josh is serious about this project; particularly when it comes to who he will be casting. In his press release it was stated:
“Mr. Cunningham knew there was going to be lots of use of guns and didn’t want to hire actors that had to be trained to use them and “act” like they knew how to not only fire the weapons, but manipulate them, move with them through buildings and tight spaces and proper use of them around other people.”
Cunningham believes in upholding the standard instilled in him throughout his military training; and clearly would not want to put his name behind what he would consider a substandard product had he decided to use actors who were not professionally trained. When asked about why he felt so strongly on the issue of hiring highly skilled men of arms versus the standard thespian he replies, “After growing up watching so many action movies and the improper use of weapons that is abundant in Hollywood, I knew I wanted to use real Veterans who didn’t need to be trained, who knew how to use them safely and correctly. He didn’t stop there though, after leaving the Army in 2011, Mr. Cunningham came back to Texas to continue his education and completed his BFA in Graphic Design. Along the way, he met a number of other Veterans at school and pitched his idea to them and they loved it. So now, not only will they be using real Veterans in front of the camera but they will also be behind the camera making it all come together!
After some interaction with Mr. Cunningham regarding my personal inquiry to the program I became even more interested in this project. That is when I decided to get even more involved. As the Fort Worth Libertarian and Martial Arts Examiner; I was given a unique opportunity to sit down with Josh over a luncheon interview. When asked what Mr. Cunningham’s ambition was behind the production of this film which he is so passionate about he explains:
“He wanted to come up with a unique story that includes his high school best friend US Army Staff Sergeant Jimmy Mac Malone, who died in combat in Iraq, June 23, 2007. Mr. Cunningham wanted to portray his friend in a way that allowed him to survive his time in Iraq and continue his life back here in Texas.”
For a long time though, Mr. Cunningham fought with survivor’s guilt after losing his friend, so for his story he decided to come up with a scenario that put Jimmy in a bad situation that allowed Josh to actually save him this time. As a veteran and also as a security specialist and tactical trainer I have studied extensively on the effects of critical – traumatic incidents particularly involving combat veterans and victims of violence. Learning the effects of violence and trauma on the human psyche and how they in turn impact the cognitive ability and physical performance of a subject is essential in my “day time” profession. Recent studies into the field of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) reveal that many soldiers returning from battle diagnosed with this condition also suffer from survivor’s guilt.
Although this is the subject of ongoing research regarding the effects of combat trauma on returning and surviving vets; we also see that these types of symptoms can lead to more serious mental breakdown and turmoil. That is why Mr. Cunningham is a great example of returning vets suffering from “Post-Traumatic Stress”. His response to the feelings and emotions he was experiencing was to go out and do something constructive that could also represent a beacon of hope to others experiencing the same things that he did. This is another reason why he has gained the support of his all veteran crew. As a group veterans have typically shown a great bond through military service in supporting one another.
Cunningham and his team have been attempting to raise money through various means in order to complete the filming of his project. They currently have a IndieGoGo campaign started and are continuing to raise funds for the film. The team behind BLACK FIRE is also looking to partner with other Veteran Small Businesses and Veteran Owned Companies to help promote the Veteran community. Right now, they’re trying to raise $25k and any funds not used will be donated to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation to help severely-wounded Special Operations Forces soldiers and surviving children of fallen SOF soldiers. For more information call (863) 214-5713 or visit http://igg.me/at/blackfirefilm/x . Unique perks are available for all contributors to the film.