National Geographic - Day Under Fire
Working with legendary news anchor Bill Kurtis of Kurtis Productions, Wide Awake directed and filmed reenactment footage for Day Under Fire, a three-part series for the National Geographic Channel. This nationally-broadcast series features riveting stories of America’s most brutal battles: the Civil War’s Battle of Wilderness, Vietnam’s Battle of X-Ray, and WWII’s Battle of Saipan. We coordinated these three large-scale location shoots, each upwards of five days of shooting, with sets boasting as many as 200 cast and crew members.
We filmed the Battle of Wilderness in its native Virginia, but had to get inventive to create the tropical climates of Japan and Vietnam in US shooting locations. We turned the shores of South Carolina into Saipan’s beaches and gave a Mississippi forest a makeover with plants native to Vietnam. These locations were unpredictable to say the least, with tides washing over our WWII-era set and torrential rain that turned our “Vietnam” into a swamp accessible only by ATVs!
We were honored to meet and conduct on-camera interviews with surviving veterans of these battles, which included Lt. General Hal Moore, of We Were Soldiers fame. A few of these men graciously joined our sets, sharing their personal stories and insuring that we got all the details just right. With the vets calling orders, we marched our actors into position each day to help them feel like a real platoon — which they did. When we wrapped, one vet’s emotions got the best of him as he said, “I feel like I’m leaving my own boys again.”