"SEALED FATE" The First Navy SEAL Left Behind? Feature Doc
"SEALED FATE" The First Navy SEAL Left Behind? Feature Doc
Navy SEALs are never left behind, ever. This film explores the 20 year story of possibly the first one that was, but not how you think.
Navy SEALs are never left behind, ever. This film explores the 20 year story of possibly the first one that was, but not how you think. Read more
About this project
THE SCENE: One balmy summer night in 1995, three young people got into a car; two would emerge alive. SEALED FATE is a gripping feature documentary that examines the murder mystery of Jennifer Evans, a vivacious 21-year-old pre-med student who was vacationing with friends when she suddenly vanished into the night. After an exhaustive eight-day search and unrelenting press coverage Evans’ body was discovered in a shallow grave 50 miles from where she was last seen alive.
THE SUSPECTS: Billy Joe Brown and Dustin Turner, two elite Navy SEAL trainees who were inextricably bonded through extreme physical and mental conditioning and the SEAL gospel of unwavering loyalty. They were graduates of the BUD/S program on their way to receiving their trident officially making them SEALs, but sex, lies and betrayal would rust that bond to reveal a tangled web of brutality, shattered promise and extinguished youth.
SYNOPSIS: SEALED FATE is a feature documentary about two Navy SEAL trainees who were convicted of one of the most famous murders in Hampton Roads Virginia history. The case was highly publicized and quickly became a media frenzy. The film follows the news reporting of the time but also goes deeper with interviews, footage, reenactments, facts and analysis from everyone involved with the case. Not only is the case covered in great detail with everyone involved but it is also gives the audience a closer look into Navy SEAL training and culture than nearly any film has shown before due to unprecendeted footage access at BUD/S, the Navy SEAL training program. But like any great documentary, what seems to be just a retelling of a notable story from the past quickly transforms into something much more. We don't want to give that away completely, but since we are asking you to invest in this project we will say that as you can see in the promo trailer above, things are not as they seem, who's guilty, who isn't, who was motivated for personal or political gain and who just wanted justice no matter the cost quickly come to light and by the end the audience will have a whole different take on the story then when it began.
CASE: A detailed account of the trials can be found at truthinjustice.org
ACCESS: A key storytelling element of SEALED FATE is unprecedented access to the principal characters, achieved by our filmmakers over the last three years.We have conducted hundreds of interview hours with police, prosecutors, former SEALs, family members, friends, jurors, witnesses and more. Exhaustive research has unearthed critical archival footage, including media reports, riveting courtroom videoand exclusive SEALs training footage. You’ll meet Billy Joe Brown and Dustin Turner through exclusive interviews and courtroom testimony, and witness their dramatic personal transformations afteryears behind bars. Poignant back stories will help viewers understand these men not just as convicted murderers, but as once-promising citizens who deviated from their path to heroism. We’ll take you inside the secretive world of the Navy SEALs to witness the physical and mental anguish of BUD/S during their dangerous training routines, shedding light on the intense brotherhood of these commandos.
NAVY SEALS: Training is considered the most challenging of all the military training programs in the world. BUD/S, or Basic Underwater Demolition SEALs, is the six-month program that shapes potential SEALs into hardened commandos.The first phase of SEAL training focuses on the physical demand, as instructors exploit recruits’ weaknesses and push them to exceed their limits. This phase includes “Hell Week,” the notorious test wherein recruits endure the most strenuous physical and mental challenges of their life. Throughout the week, trainees are only granted a few hours of sleep. The second phase instructs recruits on water operations and diving skills. The final phase of BUD/S focuses on land warfare. Tactics SEALs will need to successfully operate as a unit.
BOND: In BUD/S, trainees are paired as swim buddies. During water operations, swim buddies are required to be no farther than six feet apart at all times. The swim buddy is the backup, an immediate support that can provide military and medical assistance. The bond between swim buddies is, by design, the tightest among military warriors. In four decades of SEAL warfare, no SEAL has left a swim buddy behind. Dead or alive, every SEAL has returned from every mission. Not once has a SEAL casualty gone unclaimed. This statistic is the core of the unit’s pride.
CURRENT STATUS: Since beginning production in 2005, shooting interviews with everyone involved, gathering the immense media coverage, getting the facts of the case, shooting reenactment footage and more, the film has now entered post production. I'm Nicholas Kleczewski, and I'll go over my experience in a bit, but I've been brought on as the Editor for this film. It will be my job to put my storytelling eye on hundreds of hours of footage to make as compelling a film as possible. It would be one thing to simply tell a story that is a chronoglical list of facts of what happened but it'd be missing the human emotion of the woman's life that was taken from her, a man's life who's been wasted in wrongful imprisonment, and the gravity of decisions our elected leaders make for political purposes. To do this, it's going to take dedicated time and resources to get the film to where it needs to be in post production. We have a basic structure to the film on paper and there is a skeleton edit in place, but now its time to get in there and actually cut, score, color and do all the things necessary to make this film as good as it can be. For now, the initial fundraising goal we've set here is so I can spend the next probably half a year to do just that. We have plenty of stretch goals if we go beyond this initial amount that would bring in more dedicated people for things like score and graphics. There are more interviews that could be done to get into some more recent developments and then trying to get the film promoted and properly distributed would be just the beginning of stretch goals this film would benefit from. So this initial amount is just to get a proper film completed and get the committed rewards on kickstarter finished. Anything extra will go to making it all the better. If it gets to that point, I'll post updates on what that will look like.
EXPERIENCE: The person who's been with this story since 2005, shooting the interviews, gathering assets and footing the bill is JD Leete. He is a retired Navy SWCC (Special Warfare Combatant Crewman) Chief Petty Officer. He served 21 years was deployed to five continents. He spent 7 years attached to elite SEAL Team recently gaining attention for thekilling of Osama Bin Laden and rescue of Jessica Lynch, including his last combat deployment to Afghanistan prior to retiring in late 2003. Obviously, he has intimate knowledge of the inner workings of how Navy SEALs operate and a very personal connection to the story. It's his mission to make the world aware of quite possibly the first SEAL ever left behind and this film is his vehicle for doing so.
Again, I'm Nicholas Kleczewski a full time editor and documentary filmmaker. I'm not one for talking about myself much, but as a constant kickstarter backer myself, I know how important establishing legitimacy to a project can be. I've directed and or edited seven feature documentaries, worked directly with big music artists like Beyonce, Tina Turner, Pink, etc, my films have appeared in over 40 film festivals worldwide and I've won numerous awards including the Audience and Grand Jury Awards for Best Documentary at Slamdance which runs during the Sundance Film Festival. Some of the other festival wins with my work is shown below. My latest reel as a commercial director/editor can be found at www.trsociety.com.
Occasionally, a documentary has the potential to make a significant impact on society, and even help achieve justice for the afflicted or underrepresented. We aspire for SEALED FATE to do exactly that. We have a lot of good rewards for you to pick from on the side and we hope you will join us in making a compelling film that could someday help change a wrongfully imprisoned Navy SEAL trainee's life.
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