Tino Struckmann is the writer, director and star of "Normandy," an official selection at the G.I. Film Festival which was just released on DVD. The film follows a battle-tested soldier (Struckmann) fighting for his life during D-Day. Big Hollywood invited Mr. Struckmann, who served his country, to share his thoughts on the creation of the film.
I always had an interest in military history, wrote a novel on World War II and lectured in the Army about World War II tactics. Since 80 percent of that war was fought on the eastern front between the Germans and Russians I thought it would be interesting to tell stories from that front.
So I produced my first war film, "Brothers War," and after that we wanted to tell a story about the western front and D-Day was a good start - but beginning in the East again to give viewers perspective.
The producers of "Normandy" are also military historians, and we tried our best to stay true to what actually happened, or as for the two leads, what could have happened.
We amassed more hardware, tanks, planes and soldiers then any other war film in the independent movie realm. And we told a so far untold story from behind the German lines in Normandy, about the problems Rommel had getting the higher command to understand how resources were misused as dictated by the political leadership. Something as I soldier myself I always thought we could learn from is the mistakes of others during times of war and crisis. In war, the politicians needs to listen to the soldiers on the ground as for what their needs really are. Besides, I find that teaching history to a new generation works best in feature film form.
There were a few very memorable moments while filming "Normandy," like getting myself blown up by a flawed pyrotechnical fuse, but it was a good shot and made it into the film. We were also very proud of the fact that we had so many soldiers come help in the production. We had five Purple Heart recipients in the cast at last count.
We wanted to keep everything real. I did not want to use any CGI or digital plates and still wanted to assemble more tanks and hardware then any studio film, and we did. I think we have more battles and hardware in this film then anything seen lately.
I wanted to keep it as real as I could and show as many historical facts embedded in the story as I could while still have a solid story. So we went from the Eastern front to D-Day in France. We even managed to shoot a D-Day landing scene on June 5th and had full moon on the day after D-Day in the film - beat that Spielberg!
We did it for less then the catering budget on a TV show, too - it's all about logistics and efficiency,
As a film maker it is the same, it is about learning from one's mistakes and always trying to evolve in the art of story telling and film making. When we made "Normandy" we shot a small action film at the same time, in order to utilize time and resources at hand in the best and most efficient way possibly. Financing had fallen through, and we basically used goodwill and cheap food to get the film done.
We did it on our own for next to nothing and have only the country's other military historians and the military men and women to thank for getting the film finished. The producers will donate part of the profit to the VA and other military charities.
We are working on a few bigger projects now and will touch upon an untold aspect of the Holocaust. So besides the action elements we have become really good at we will add a very serious drama to our next war film, "Blood of a Nation." We hope to be able to shoot and release by spring 2013.