- Sergeant Major Kenneth Hendrix – US Army plays the soldier in The Unknown Citizen is the first cousin of the writer/director.
- He completed three combat tours in Iraq, the last of which was covered in the best-selling book They Fought for Each Other: The Hardest Hit Unit in Iraq, by Kelly Kennedy.
- The book has often been referred to as ‘The Band of Brothers” of the Iraq war and is one harrowing story of so many about those who have sacrificed since the war began.
- The soldier is currently completing sergeant major academy and has a lovely wife and three wonderful daughters in South Carolina who wait eagerly for him to finish.
- In the short film The Unknown Citizen, when the soldier receives his food and begins to pray, the camera closes up on his tattoo on his arm. The Fourteen in roman numerals XIV represents the number of men he lost in his third tour in Iraq as First Sergeant of Charlie Company.
The soldier knelt down praying in the tattoo represents the soldier on whom the film is based, and the shields are of his 1st Infantry Division and 26th ‘Blue Spader’s’ Unit referred to in the book. Therefore, as the soldier is praying, the camera closes up on him praying.
- The opening sequence of the film brings the tattoo to life and is how the production company was named to pay homage to those who sacrificed their lives and to the actual US Army soldier. It was a ‘no-brainer’.
- The opening sequence was shot in part on a studio set green screen with a local US Army soldier, who coincidentally served at the same Forward Operating Base as the soldier on whom the film is based, Fort Apache in Baghdad, although they were stationed there are different times. Fort Apache is where much of the best-selling book They Fought for Each Other: The Hardest Hit Unit in Iraq is based. It is located in Amadiya, one of the worst areas of insurgent violence in Baghdad, Iraq.
- The soldier on whom the film was based had no idea the director and first cousin was producing the opening sequence. It was intended to surprise him at the premiere screening in October 2011 as a way to honor him for his service and for his participating in the film.
- The bartender in the film is played by Michael Cuomo, a producer and actor from New York who met the director at the 2011 Little Rock Festival while showing his own film: Happy New Year.
- Happy New Year is an incredible full-length narrative feature about an Iraq veteran returning home to face mass injury and struggle, and is a deep dive into what many veterans probably face on a day-to-day basis. It is scheduled to be released at the end of 2011 and is currently running the national film festival circuit.
- Cuomo produced and starred in the film with its writer /director Laurrel Manning, who developed the story after reading an article about wounded veterans returning home from war with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
- Happy New Year recently won Best Actor and Director for Cuomo and Manning (respectively) at the 2011 Rhode Island Film Festival, where they were accompanied by former Representative Patrick Kennedy to support our troops with the One Mind initiative to address brain trauma in veterans.
- The film has taken a life of its own, as it has become more of an outreach to soldiers and their families than a mere movie. Michael and Lorrel continue to work tirelessly not only as filmmakers, but as citizen advocates for our troops and their well-being.
- When asked in a Q and A panel in front of the audience at the festival which national film festival was a diamond-in-the-rough and one that could be considered a model for others, Michael and Lorrel looked at each other and without hesitation blurted out to the crowd’s surprise, “The Little Rock Film Festival, by far.”
- The Unknown Citizen was originally over ten minutes long, but was shortened to its current length ~ 4 minutes as it needed to be short enough to be somewhat a viral video, but long enough to tell the story and fall within the category of a short film.
- There were many more characters included in the original script, which hinted symbolism about the spoils of and struggles of war through interaction of the soldier and a young boy, accompanied by his father.
- There is one shot in The Unknown Citizen where you can see the anonymous patron’s face for a brief moment. The camera accidently caught him in frame, but the original idea was to never show who he is, rather over-the-shoulder, from-behind, and point-of-view shots.
- During the film’s shoot at the airport, many people approached the crew asking what the production was about. After hearing it was to support our troops, there were many gracious comments and words of encouragement Many already had a common practice of the act of kindness, and felt that it needed to be even more commonplace.
- The concept for The Unknown Citizen came from an actual experience of the writer and producer in the Chicago airport while traveling on business in the Telecom industry in 2009.
- He saw a young soldier sitting by himself, looking rather lonely with a huge pack and demeanor as if he were about to be shipped overseas into combat. The soldier’s waitress approached the register on the other side of the bar where he was eating and without really thinking, he calls her attention and offers to pay the soldier’s tab.
- The waitress was obliged with the offer and asked if she should inform the soldier who paid the bill. After a split second, he decides not to inform him and make it anonymous.
- Unfortunately, the waitress then explains the soldier had already paid and the opportunity was missed, and the writer states ‘tongue-in-cheek’ that FeedASoldier was created to make it up to him, whoever he is.
- Since starting the project, we’ve heard numerous stories from citizens who explained of missing an open opportunity to give, but for whatever reason did not act quick enough and thoroughly regretted it. Thus, the point of FeedASoldier is to minimize this. It is surprising to hear that many of them remember the incident even months after it happened.
- Filmed and produced in Little Rock, Arkansas
Soldier – Sgt. Major Kenneth Hendrix – US Army
Bartender – Michael Cuomo
The Unknown Citizen
Evan Osam, Megan Osam, Pam Floyd, Mary Kay Hendrix, Anne Marie Bailey, Ethan Davis, Lauren Burke, Devanee Johnson, Justin Arrington
- Neil Osam – Executive Producer / Writer / Director / Music
- David Fowlkes – Producer
- Owner of Dogtown Picture Show Productions in Little Rock, AR – www.dogtownpictureshow.com
- Broadcast professional with over 7 years in feature films, commercials, industrials, and shorts.
- Bryan Stafford – Cinematographer and Editor
- Recently directed short film Ballerina, which won Viewer’s choice award at the Little Rock Film Festival in 2011
- Currently working on full feature 45PRM in production.
- 20 years experience in not only post-production, but also behind the lens in all mediums from broadcast to print to online and interactive.
- Shot, edited, and designed award-winning music videos, websites, and television commercials.
- Owner / operator of one of Central Arkansas’ first RED ONE Digital Cinema Cameras used in The Unknown Citizen.
- Gabe Gentry – Assistant Director
- Owner of Mindful Media Productions – www.mindfulmediaproductions.com
- Dave Calhoun – Gaffer (lighting)
- Owner of Film Gear Rentals – www.filmgearrentals.com
- Don Hager – Key Grip
- Jordan Hager – Grip
- Les Galusha – intro effects ninja
- Creative Director at Jones Productions – Little Rock, AR
- Jason Ridout – Sound
- UCA Film Student
- Will Scott – 1stAssistant Camera
- UCA Film Student
- Natalee Ferguson – Hair and Makeup
- Lucy Holifield – PA
- Kelly Duda – Behind-the-Scenes Director and Production Consultant
- Justin Nickels – BTS Crew and PR
- Mallory Nickels – BTS Crew and PR