Apr 22, 2017 09:57 PM EST

NetFlix's Sand Castle Draws on Roessner's Real Life Military Experience To Entice Audiences

NetFlix's Sand Castle Draws on Roessner's Real Life Military Experience To Entice Audiences
"Patriotism is active.  It has never been passive", stated Chris Roessner, the writer of the Netflix movie Sand Castle.  Roessner signed up for the military as means to help pay for college but found himself in Iraq a few months later in a Post 9-11 world.  His job was different than a typical soldier since he worked for 7-8 years as a civilian ambassador of sorts to promote good relations with the native people.  His experience compelled him to write Sand Castle showcasing the reluctance of the Iraqi people to assist those sent there to help them and his goal is to inspire Americans to "get involved with Veterans, to March in the parades and volunteer at vet homes and hospitals.  To lobby for the post 9-11 GI bill and affordable healthcare for Veterans", he said.

Filmmaker Fernando Coimbra (A Wolf at the Door) read Roesnner's story and stated, "I was impressed with the authenticity of the script and the characters and I could tell [it] was written by someone who knew what he was talking about."  Coimbra felt such strong visuals from the script from the very beginning and felt he needed to direct the movie.  He also loved, " the journey of the character…It's a story everyone can relate to".

What makes this war film stand apart from others is "most war films are plot driven whereas this one is more character based" Roessler agreed.  He wanted audiences to spend time with the soldiers, hoping to "change the way Americans see those going to war" in general and what was happening over there specifically.  He feels most people don't understand what it means to be an 18 or 19-year-old in a war and strives for greater understanding for those who serve.

In order to give an alternative view of the mindset of these "kids", he recounts a story of purposely injuring himself in order to get out of something he didn't want to do.  He took this concept and incorporated into the film when Matt Ocre (Nicholas Hoult; X-Men: Apocalypse) slams his hand in the door of a jeep in order to be relieved of combat duty, which unfortunately for him doesn't work.

Upon discussing the cast, Roessner claimed," Working with (them) has been one of my greatest joys.  All of them bonded and spent time together which was amazing to watch". Coimbria also felt it was a good experience and found the cast "engaging" and spoke to their bond as they "were having a shared experience being away from home, in the same hotel, and how that translated to their onscreen characters".  Roessner likened this camaraderie to his own experience in the military which he feels lends an air of authenticity to the movie.

Roessler also touches on a tricky subject as he shows a more human side to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  He claimed, "Often people say the root of PTSD is bullets and bombs while the truth is most soldiers struggle with the idea of ‘Did I make a difference?'" Coimbra seconds Roessner's feelings, stating, "We were aware from the beginning what an important subject it was.  I read a lot of articles [about PTSD] to make sure we presented it correctly".  They both hope this movie will give those at home a greater understanding of what Veterans struggle with psychologically.

For Roessner himself, he plans to continue to fight for Vets and Military themed films including ones about the "coming home narrative" and working the office copy machine or pumping gas after living with guns and bullets for so long.  However, his latest projects include possibly working with Ben Affleck and writing an action movie which he calls "fun, light, popcorn entertainment".

Want a different take on the Iraq war and the struggles our troops face overseas? Readers can watch Sand Castle today with a current Netflix subscription.

About Allison Skornick-Rose

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