'The Many Faces of War'
SIKESTON -- Those looking for an entertaining yet educational film about the Civil War won't want to miss this Saturday's film screening at the Little Theatre.
They'll also get to see some local teens playing roles in the film, who are part of Rick Justice's re-enactment group. He's led a group of students within the town, ranging in age from 14 to 21, who portray both Union and Confederate troops, for the past eight years.
"What I'm proud of is that it shows these kids from this town," Justice said. He also played a role in the movie.
The idea of shooting a film came from Rick Revel, a friend of Justice, who lives in Tennessee. Revel also produced the film.
"Since I have a group of teenagers, he asked us to be some of the characters in the movie," Justice said.
One of the Sikeston students in the movie is Damion Thurman, 14. He has one of the bigger roles. None of the characters had a lines, just a lot of movement, he said.
"It was more fun than I thought it would be," he said. He was assigned to the character and didn't have to audition for it.
Damion said one of the most interesting parts of the filming for him was when his character died. "I had to keep myself from laughing because it was so dramatic," he said.
He spoke of the educational value of the film. "It teaches you that the war wasn't just about slavery in the South," Damion said.
"The purpose of the movie is to show the public that there weren't just white soldiers out there fighting," Justice continued. "They came from all walks of life."
Two other Sikeston teens who participated were Ryan Dun, 17 and Audrey Regenold, 14.
"We were basically background people," Ryan said.
"It was all fun -- but they took about a billion takes," Audrey said.
Several years ago, Revel wanted to film a movie or documentary about the Battle of Shiloh and got permission to start filming re-enactments.
From there, Revel's idea evolved, and the film also includes shots from the battles of Parkers Ridge and Grand Junction. All three were actually fought in Tennessee. Some of the filming occurred at the actual battle sites. Others were shot in alternate locations, including General Watkins State Park in Benton, Justice said.
While filming, the group camped out, just like the soldiers had.
Ryan and Audrey complained of the cold weather while they were camping at Shiloh -- which reflects the actual conditions Civil War soldiers were in during that battle, Justice said.
Although the movie focuses on the battles, there is an underlying story. "The movie is based on a man named Dr. Bell who is trying to track down his two sons who have joined the Confederate Army," Justice explained. "In the process, he himself becomes a doctor in the Confederate Army."
When asked whether the film is based on a true story, Justice replied "parts of it is, parts of it are not."
Although the film was produced by a rookie, Justice said it was well-done and had amazing sound effects.
Audrey agreed. "I thought it was really, really good," she said. "I was impressed."
Justice said he's seen the group members perk up when they see themselves in the film and especially during the end credits. "That's what I really get a kick out of," he said.
"It kind of scared me to see myself on the TV," Damion recalled of the first time he saw the film. "I almost didn't recognize myself."
Shooting of the film began in February 2006 and wrapped up this July. Actors came "from all over," Justice said -- mostly from Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas and Illinois.
Those involved in the film are also attempting to have it shown on the History Channel, Justice said.