Washington DC’s GI Film Festival
As we celebrate this Memorial Day holiday we thought we would share some highlights from previous years coverage of the G.I. Film Festival in Washington, D.C. The GI Film Festival is the first film festival in the nation to exclusively celebrate the successes and sacrifices of the service member through the medium of film.
World Footprints is proud to pay tribute to our nation’s heroes–our men and women in uniform, and the Hollywood patriots who support them. From the red carpet of past G.I. Film Festivals we share our conversations with three award-winning actors: Gary Sinise, William Devane and Lou Diamond Phillips. We also introduce award-winning filmmaker Rodney Ray and budding filmmaker Chris Loverro. Then we’ll chat with actor Sean Kanan who is best known for his role as Deacon Sharpe on the popular CBS daytime shows The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful. Sean joins us to talk about his journey from the mid-west to Hollywood and his travels with the USO.
Announcer: Welcome to World Footprints Radio. The show where we celebrate responsible travel culture and heritage. Featuring your hosts Tonya and Ian Fitzpatrick. Now, the World Footprints Radio.
Tonya: Hello everybody. Thank you for joining us today in World’s Footprints Radio. It’s a wonderful day to travel and leave positive footprint. Am your host Tonya and Ian Fitzpatrick. Who was going to take you to a very special place today as we celebrate our nation’s heroes.
Ian: Today’s World Footprints pays tribute to our nation’s heroes that were men and women in uniform. From the red carpet of the GI Film Festival in Washington DC. We will share our conversations with three award-winning actors. Gary Sinise, William Devane, and Lou Diamond Phillips. We will also meet award-winning filmmaker Rodney Ray and budding filmmaker Chris Loverro. Then we’ll chat with Sean Kanan, who was best known for his role as Deacon Sharp on the Young and the Restless. Sean joins us to talk about his journey from the Midwest to Hollywood and his travels with the USO. We welcome your comments at any time about anything we’re doing. Email us at comments at worldfootprints.com.
Tonya: And also to contact us you can do so from my website worldfootprints.com. You can also sign up for our newsletter and our social networks from that page. Again, worldfootprints.com.
Ian: The GI Film Festival was the first film festival in the nation to exclusively celebrate the successes and sacrifices of the service members through the medium of film. In the remembrance of the 60th anniversary of the Korean War, the GI Film Festival hosted a congressional reception honoring Korean War veterans and that’s where we caught up with award-winning actor and former GI Film Festival GI Spirit Award winner Gary Sinise.
Tonya: I’m here with Gary Sinise at the GI Film Festival 2011. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Gary Sinise: Thanks for having me.
Tonya: Gary, when did this start for you–supporting veterans and people in the military?
Gary Sinise: It’s a combination of things. I have veterans in my family on my wife’s side. Vietnam veterans on my side. I have World War II veterans. My uncles were in World War II and my grandfather was in the Army in World War One. My Dad was in the Navy for a little while. So I’m surrounded by veterans and I got very involved Vietnam veterans groups way back in the early 80s in the Chicago area. Learned a lot about Vietnam from my brother and my wife’s two brothers. Then I did Forrest Gump and I played a Vietnam veteran, I disabled Vietnam veteran. I got involved with DAV and our disabled veterans. So I came to know a lot of people who had served in the military and have great respect for them. And then we got attacked on September 11th and I could do.
Gary Sinise: I just had to participate in some way in serving and now having been very, very active with supporting our military and military families for 10 years now. I’m hooked. It’s just something I got to do. Is just a part of my life. And I know that somebody like me can bring attention to various organizations that are doing something for the troops or stories that need to be told out there so that people understand why we should be so grateful and appreciative of those who serve our country into a dangerous world out there. And if something bad happens again, we’re all going to be looking to the military to defend us and to try to prevent something bad from happening again. So I’m just trying to do what I can to keep them strong through these difficult times.
Tonya: Well, I’ve heard so many stories from people I’ve talked to just today about how you’ve actually touched them from performing in the lieutenant Dan band abroad. People who have just been sent overseas. And there’s a gentleman that worked in Senator Graham’s office has results in you as an intern. Do you remember?
Gary Sinise: Yes. Andrew Canard is his name. A wonderful young guy. He actually came out and visited me on the set of CSI New York and he’s just a wonderful guy. Unfortunately lost both of his legs in a bombing in Iraq. I met him years ago and we’ve stayed in touch throughout the years and he wanted to work for Senator Graham. And somehow I knew somebody and I just mentioned it. I don’t know that I had that much to do with it, but I think I just brought it to their attention a little bit and he was able to go to work for Senator Graham, which he very much wanted to do. And he’s just a really smart, very good guy and he’s given a lot for our country and helping out wounded warriors and them and their families through these difficult times they’re going through. Is something that makes me feel like I’m giving back and they deserve everything.
Tonya: Thank you so much for your service and everything.
Gary Sinise: Thank you very much.
Ian: The GI film festival also paid a special tribute to Hollywood patriots, William Devane and Lou Diamond Phillips. Both actors were honored on the evening of the DC premiere, a flag of my father in which Devane stand in. Devane, received the GI choice award, and Phillips received the GI Spirit Award. We caught up with both gentlemen on the red carpet.
Tonya: Thank you so much for spending a little bit of time with me on the red carpet here. What does it mean to you to expect these awards tonight.
Gary Sinise: Oh, it’s great. Are you kidding? Any kind of award is great. I’m just glad they know that I’m alive.
Tonya: You’re well known for a lot of the iconic characters you play. Where does your emotion come from? It has to come from a deeper place than just acting skills. Have you been involved with the veterans and do you come from a military family?
Gary Sinise: No, we’re Irish. You know…cops and fireman. Cops, Fireman and anger.
Tonya: It has been such a pleasure and I’m sure I won’t see you for a while, your birthday is three days after mine.
Gary Sinise: Oh you’re kidding? Oh good. Yeah, happy birthday to you. That’s great.
Tonya: One of the things I heard today when you were at channel four that you were talking, and I’m going to quote verbatim, you’re talking smack about the women not planning versus Dallas. What’s up with that?
Gary Sinise: No, I was just joking. I don’t know why they’re doing Dallas but probably because there’s more men than women.
Tonya: Right. Well, it was wonderful.
Gary Sinise: I was just joking.
Tonya : I know. Thank you so much for joining me.
Gary Sinise: Thank you.
Tonya: So excited to be here with you, Lou Diamond Phillips.
Lou Diamond: Thank you.
Tonya: It might surprise some that you actually grew up in a military family. We’re here at the GI film festival. Tell us about your upbringing.
Lou Diamond: Well I was actually born on the naval base in the Phillippines. My Dad was in the Navy the station across the country of Georgia, then Florida and then eventually went back to the Philippines for a little bit. We Settled down in Texas, up at the naval air station in Corpus Christi. My military background is obviously extensive. It goes back to when I was born. I’m actually named after a marine military hero, a gunnery sergeant Lewellen Diamond. So, well, my dad read a book on him before I was born, and named me after him because he like the name. And so I’m glad that I put that image out, but no, I’ve never had the pleasure.
Tonya: [inaudible 00:08:24].
Lou Diamond: That’s the funny thing is that, I mean, something gets printed on the internet or whatever and then it just seems to perpetuate itself. But no, the facts of the facts and you try to stick with that. So I get asked a lot of erroneous questions. I mean one of them is that I’m writing a biography on myself right now and in then no, that’s not happening either.
Tonya: Well, you should. You have an illustrious career.
Lou Diamond: But I’m not done yet. That’s the thing. I’ve got a long way to go. So I don’t think it’s time for the book just yet.
Tonya: I understand you’ve done a lot of advocacy work on behalf of the Filipino World War II veterans. Tell us about that work.
Lou Diamond: I’m always very, very happy to serve whenever I’m called. So I have performed services for the VA, for the USO. We’ve got to host that freedom concert last year for the veterans who went out on July 4th. But one of the biggest things that I’ve done, and I’m actually quite proud of it, is that I did testify before Senate subcommittee on veteran’s affairs for the Filipino veterans who had their veteran status rescinded after World War II. And, quite honestly, it was a big slap in the face.
Lou Diamond: They had served, they’d sacrificed, they help turn the tide of the war in the Pacific and then suddenly they were not recognized. They were persona non-grata. And 60 years later, I took myself and a few other people who formed a small group of Fritz Friedman from Sony Pictures. Dean Devlin, a wonderful producer, Tia Carrere, Rob Schneider, myself to try and bring attention to this injustice. And we were able to that at the very least get their veteran’s status reinstated and benefits for the Philippian of veterans that are here in this country.
Tonya: What’s left to be done, because I haven’t heard very much about the resolution, whether it’s past or where things stand right now
Lou Diamond: That particular resolution passed. They did get their veteran’s status back and the one’s residing in the United States had benefits. However, a large portion of them are residing in the Philippines. They went back home and unfortunately they are not getting the services they need. So I think that would be the remainder of the battle is to get everybody their due.
Tonya: I mentioned we’re here for the GI film festival, and I want to congratulate you on winning the GI Spirit award. What does that mean to you?
Lou Diamond: First of all, I’m incredibly honored and flattered by it but at the same time extremely humbled. I think it’s a very wonderful way to create a liaison between Hollywood in the military, if you will. And there are a few of us that they’d get out and support the military and try to espouse the values and the code that the military puts forth. And at the very best I think that I’m at least helping to bring these stories to light to elevate the real heroism that’s going on out there. Worse time of pretenders to the throne and just an actor. And so that’s what humbles me is like, my contributions of pale in comparison to the real contributions that our military services performed every single day.
Tonya: Now, I know you have a show on the military channel. But you’re also right now I understand in Santa Fe shooting a pilot, tell us about that.
Lou Diamond: The show in the military channel is an officer in a movie. And we’ve completed 20 episodes. It’s going to be airing for the rest of this year where we show a classic war film, whether it’s the dirty dozen or heaven and earth from all of a stone. We cover the gamut from World War II up to present day. We actually have three kings in the cycle as well. And we pair it with someone who was a decorated officer. Someone who went through an experience like that or has particular insight into what the movie’s about.
Lou Diamond: And it’s really fascinating to talk to them on the commercial breaks and do these interviews and get the real story and realize that these films are inspired by a true heroism and true experiences. The pilot that I’m working on is called Longmire. It’s based on the Longmire Detective novels by Craig Johnson, which are amazing. They’re award-winning. And we just, literally I finished the pilot last night at midnight, so yeah. And then flew to Washington to get this Robert Taylor from the Matrix series. Katie Sackhoff from 24 and Battlestar Cassidy Freeman from Smallville. It’s a fantastic cast and some really beautiful characters get to contemporary western and there’s really nothing on TV like it right now.
Tonya: When can we expect to see what’s next with that?
Lou Diamond: The process with the pilot is that you film it, it gets turned over to the network. They cut it together, they look at it, they test market, and then they decided to go to spend the money to turn it into a real series. So, all things look good right now. I know the pilot went extremely well and at present they aim is very excited about it. So hopefully we’ll see it sometime in the next year.
Tonya: Well, Lou Diamond Phillips, thank you so much for spending some time with me today. It’s been an honor.
Lou Diamond: Oh my pleasure. Thank you.
Ian: We enjoyed meeting filmmaker Rodney Ray about this powerful film, Flag of my Father. Rodney wrote, directed and produced the star studded film that gave a face to post traumatic stress disorder while expressing faith, forgiveness, healing, and family. In addition to William Devane, Flag also stars John Snyder, best known for Dukes of Hazard.
Tonya: I’m here with my wonderful new friend, Rodney Ray, a brother from another mother from Monroe, Louisiana. Rodney, your film tonight Flag of my Father was one of the most powerful films I’ve seen in a long time.
Rodney Ray: Thank you.
Tonya: I did not hear, I mean, I heard so many sniffles and I don’t think anybody left the cinema with dry eyes.
Rodney Ray: Right.
Tonya: How did you come up with this storyline?
Rodney Ray: Well, the main part of the story came from my relationship with my dad. And the fact that he’s a World War II veteran and he’s 88 years old. He’s still in great health. My mom has already passed away and I attended the funeral of a friend’s dad who passed away. And his mom had previously passed away as well. When they presented the flag at the grave site, they didn’t know who to give it to. And everybody wanted it. And I realized that was going to play out in my life one day…
Rodney Ray: But I knew I wanted it more, at least in my eyes…And that is what spurred the idea in my mind about the movie. Is that the importance of that flag. That flag flies it just does something to all Americans. If you’re an American, you see that flag you just feel something [inaudible 00:15:40]. So that was the original centerpiece of the movie, of course with the number of faith based company and sharing our faith with others is equally important. The wrapping a message about that in the port, it’s the being bold enough to share your faith no matter the condition. Because those are the two things that generated the original thought from the movie and the rest, just good movie.
Tonya: Wonderful movie. And I think you touched on something, for me, there’s a double meaning there. I mean, I understood the most handy, but I also understood the deeper meaning. How talenting is it for you to take space, space movies and put them into the main stream?
Rodney Ray: Well, it’s a big challenge. A matter of fact, most Christian filmmakers that I know will tell you, “Do not try to take a Christian film and put it into the secondary market because you will fail.” Because what happens is as you move away from your Christian based sometimes and then the secular base may not support the film. And so most Christian filmmakers just preach to the choir, so to speak. But that’s not what I feel called to do. I feel that we should do things with quality. And so that’s not a tamped is to make movies that are cross over is not easy. It’s very difficult. I don’t want movies that are preachy, but I do want them to have inspiration and a message of hope .
Speaker 2: You had a [inaudible 00:17:07] willing to Vignette John Snyder. I mean how was it challenging to get those folks involved in this faith based film?
Rodney Ray: Well, fortunately for us it was easier than I thought it would be. And only because they all liked the script so much because we innovate has been very complimentary. You by hurting speak tonight about how much he enjoyed the script. He loves the twists and turns in it. And so that’s the thing about getting big actors because they’d read the script and it’s something that they believe has potential are the challenges then with an actor that they want to be involved. And that’s what we had going in our favor is because they believed in the script.
Rodney Ray: Maybe the message a little bit different, and often described as spam, like a diamond. That’s multifaceted. How you look at the film will depend on who you are. If you’re a Christian you’ll see a Christian message. If you’re coming from a blended family, you’ll see that angle. If you’re a veteran, you’re going to love that. If you are struggling with forgiveness, that’s many of the Ark actors were, you will appreciate that there’s only a limited amount of time to be able to give forgiveness. And so it depends on where you come from. And that’s the thing that’s been so successful at the movie is that it speaks to somebody different audiences.
Tonya: Is this your first time in the GI film festival?
Rodney Ray: Yes it is. It is the first time in the festival. We actually have two films in here. We have this film and we have a documentary that will air on Sunday. It’s very powerful. It’s not a [inaudible 00:18:44] documentary at all. It’s just about Vietnam veterans. It’s called, some call them Baby Killers. We call them Heroes. Extremely powerful and just as emotional is a plaque.
Tonya: Well, Rodney thank you so much for spending some time with me today.
Rodney Ray: It’s my pleasure and thanks for coming to interview and I’m glad you enjoyed the film.
Ian: After the break we’ll talk to our Iraq war veteran filmmaker Chris Loverro about his GI film festival and his journey home.
Chris Loverro: When I returned from Iraq at the end of April, I wanted to make a documentary about what it’s like to come home from the experience and how it affects families.
Ian: We’ll also introduce you to an extraordinary man who was building partnerships between the technology community to create jobs for GI next on World Footprints radio.
Speaker 8: Hello. This is Markese [inaudible 00:19:35] and I love World Footprints Radio.
Tonya: Hi I’m Tonya Fitzpatrick.
Ian: And I’m Ian Fitzpatrick.
Tonya: A few years ago we decided to leave our respective legal back to live a more purposeful travel life and help others live positive footprints.
Ian: World Footprints was born and was quickly recognized for its award-winning journalism. We’ve covered events from the Olympics to a titanic expedition and we’ve discussed conservation, environmental and public diplomacy initiatives.
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Alex: Hi, I’m Alex from Baltimore, Maryland and Tonya and Ian brought me to Baltimore by listening to World Footprints radio.
Ian: And now, more of World Footprints radio with your host Tonya and Ian Fitzpatrick.
Tonya: So, this is a very famous west point graduate that I think also aided in your ability to come here.
Ian: That’s right. One of the classmates [inaudible 00:20:45] Chadwick class of 1974 is a man by the name General Petraeus. You may have heard of him. He’s only one of the greatest generals we’ve had and pretty amazing. In fact, it’s interesting because I have a personal connection if you want to call it that. And he was commanding the hundred first Airborne Division during the invasion of Iraq. And it was actually my unit out of the year that I was assigned to the striker brigade combat team out of Fort Lewis.
Ian: That relieved the hundred first. And I think, I can’t verify this, but I’m pretty sure that I walked by him at a combat outpost during the battle handoff between the hundred first and the striker brigade. I didn’t really know who he was at the time but one thing I can say is the soldiers are really proud of our general. We feel that, we just feel it when you’re deployed conducting combat operations overseas, you really want someone at the top of the food chain that you feel has your best interest at stake, and it’s doing everything humanly possible to take care of your soldiers and that means a lot to us.
Tonya: Welcome back. I’m Tonya Fitzpatrick. Chris Loverro. Then I work with the trend from California, making a mark as a filmmaker [inaudible 00:22:08] Journey Home. The GI film festival entry. Journey home is a film that Chris wrote directed the dupe and [inaudible 00:22:18] an Iraq War veteran who returned home on emergency leave to inform of life as his best friend’s death while serving. I’m privileged to introduce this extraordinary soldier filmmaker and actor. And I know you’ll be hearing more about him in the coming years. Tell me about your film, the Genesis of journey home and your road towards.
Chris Loverro: The genesis of the film. Well, I’m an Iraq war veteran. When I returned from Iraq at the end four, I wanted to make a documentary about what it’s like to come home from the experience and how it affects families. And so I started taking some courses in Berkeley and ended up going to a film school full time and graduated last summer. And my senior thesis project Journey Home, a story about a soldier who is serving in Iraq with his best friend who gets killed in an ambush and he volunteers to return home on emergency leave to notify a comfort as best friend’s wife. And many aspects of it are autobiographical, semi autobiographical or stories based on experiences with friends have had. And the film is essentially just the story of the journey or what it’s like to come home from that experience. And it touches upon some of the themes of PTSD and isolation and depression and the loss of the comrade and effects on the family.
Tonya: I know these are issues that aren’t necessarily shared in mainstream media. Why did you feel it was important to touch upon these particular research?
Chris Loverro: Do I explain it as you got to look at the films I’ve done as having really two audiences and serving two purposes. One audience are the veterans, and the message there is to let veterans know they’re not alone. They’re not alone, it’s okay to get help. Getting help is not a sign of weakness. It doesn’t make you any less of a warrior. It’s okay that you’ve been affected by this experience and if you need to get help to deal with issues, it’s okay. So that’s one audience. And then the other audience are of course civilians.
Chris Loverro: And the purpose there is to not really help civilians understand what it’s like to be in combat because you can’t. But really it’s about engaging them in the conversation and getting them maybe to think about some of these issues that maybe a lot of people aren’t thinking about. And to just let them know that the soldiers, and their families are making some pretty big sacrifices and sometimes the ultimate sacrifice. And that’s something that I think as a society we should be aware of and acknowledge.
Tonya: You’re kind of a transitional and I thought Ian and I were going from La to broadcasting, but you started off as a swat officer. Correct. And went into the army and now still making. And that’s the best and amazing career track, but you’ve come full circle because this is your focus. The Zonar as your focus.
Chris Loverro: I get even more complicated than that. Graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in peace studies. Which is actually what brought me back into the army. There’s more of the story. I was a police officer with the city of Berkeley. And ironically, so I joined the reserves while I was still a police officer. Was mobilized for about 20 months. Went to Iraq for a year and ironically survive Iraq only to come back and get injured in the line of duty as a police officer. And around that so I was off work for about a year to try and rehab and they finally, medically retired me and that’s when I went to film school.
Tonya: Are you lacking your film Journey Home earlier. Very, very powerful sound. And I’m wondering because you’re also an actor, you’re pursuing an acting career as well. How much of the emotion, and I’m referring specifically to chapter two that really moved me emotionally. How much of that was the very emotion was pulled from real life experiences versus acting cells?
Chris Loverro: Well. Well, it’s both. I am a method actor, I guess you could classify me as a method actor. Part of chapter two was very autobiographical. That whole scene that took place at the computer terminal where I’m trying to find the location of some fallen comrades than you’re with very, very dead on. Fortunately, I did not personally have to return home and do a death notification. So again, certain elements had been pulled from my own personal experience and some were just from friends. Yeah, it was, well, this brings up a good point. It’s something that I would actually like to touch upon in. That’s the call I got into this whole thing. And being in front of the camera is an interesting story. It happened serendipitously. My first project at film school, I was casting for an Iraq war veteran for the scene that I was going to do.
Chris Loverro: And it turns out there aren’t any, at least in the bay area. I just couldn’t find any Iraq or Afghanistan war veterans who are acting. So at the last minute I decided what the heck, I’m just going to put myself in the hot seat and I’ll do it. I just felt that as a director of a non veteran actor couldn’t bring the authenticity that I wanted to do the role. And other directors would disagree with that. But it was a direct, it was a choice I made. And so by doing that, it turns out that acting was a great form of Catharsis for me. And so I just pursued that more and more. And I’ve led up to being in the film Journey Home that’s here at the festival. And so now I’m trying to promote acting and the art in filmmaking as a form of Catharsis for veterans.
Tonya: That’s wonderful. How far have you taken that? What’s your next step after the film festival? What do you have planned that?
Chris Loverro: Well, since I graduated from some school last semester, I’ve been using the post 911 GI bill to study acting and I’ve been taking classes at the College of Marin, in California and also currently at the City College of San Francisco. And I’ve been doing some, i had some small roles in TV and independent films and trying to get my skill set there and see where it takes me.
Tonya: But you had a very interesting story about how you got here.
Chris Loverro: I was screening of some of mine about PTSD at a conference in San Jose. And after the conference I was approached by a friend of mine, Bill Chadwick, who is a west point graduate, and a retired Army Officer, Founder and Executive Director of the California veteran’s support foundation, which is affiliated with the veterans home in Yorkville, California. And he and some of his fellow classmates from the class of 1974 west point got together and raised some funds to get me out here to DC to promote my film at the GI film festival.
Tonya: I know this is your first time here, what do you think so far?
Chris Loverro: Phenomenal. Just to have a film festival specifically dedicated to the military. To honor the military. I think it’s the only one maybe in the world, certainly the United States. And I have to tell you that yesterday we took a walk to Walter Reed Hospital and we spent time with some wounded marines and soldiers. Some of whom were a triple amputees. And just to see the way they carried on and their spirit was so inspirational and they gave me so much more perspective. I mean, as a combat veteran they gave me even more perspective of what it means to serve. And they made me even more proud to wear the uniform. And it’s just so amazing. That the will and the drive of the spirit of the thirdly wounded warriors.
Tonya: Well you have a friend here from West Point. What is your name?
Richard Haas: It’s Richard Haass. So I am actually a friend and classmate of Laura Law Millett, the Founder of the GI Film Festival.
Tonya: Do you think people are leaving with the impression that the founders Laura and Brandon wanted them to leave with.
Richard Haa: I believe so because the message was the mission of this film festival at least was to honor the successes and sacrifices of our armed forces. I think we’re doing that. I think it’s small pockets at a time because not everyone knows about this film festival. Maybe everyone knows about the Khan or the Sundance Robert Redford Sundance film festival. But I think our vision and I think Laura and Brandon’s vision is to make this the next Sundance. Make the military more mainstream and put them in a positive light. And I think it’s through these incremental small steps that they are connecting with viewers and the world is getting out certainly.
Tonya: And Chris, I want to see you back here and activities right now. You have more stories than you.
Chris Loverro: That’s true. There’s a lot of stories to be told. I mean, I think the sacrifice that a lot of these young men and women are making are just amazing. And I think it’s important that the American public is aware of that and it can appreciate that. Again, visiting Walter Reed and seeing soldiers and marines that have lost both of their legs and maybe they have one arm that’s kind of working, they have TBI, but they’re just driving on. They just won’t accept. They won’t concede. They just live their lives and just to see their wives, they’re supporting them and just carrying on with an attitude of driving on simplify. I can’t tell you how inspiring it is. Again, it makes me even more proud to wear the uniform.
Tonya: Well, I’m proud of the citizen and I’m very, very grateful to both of you for what you’re doing for your service and really still love of humanity. You need that trends like Chris and others continue their service to America when they return home. At one such veteran Jerome who is building partnerships to technology and manufacturing companies to give new opportunities to returning veterans in rebuilding America’s economy. I’m here with my new friend Jerome. Jerome, I understand you are an Iraq war veteran as well.
Jerome: Yes, that’s correct.
Tonya: How many tours did you serve and where?
Jerome: I did two tours in 2005 and 2006 [inaudible 00:32:42].
Tonya: And you’re doing some great things. You’re done all right? So you’re doing some great things state side to help support other veterans. Tell us about your program.
Jerome: Yes. Right now I’m medically retired. I’m the president of the veteran’s Club at Skyline College. So my veterans asked me or asked my veterans if there’s anything that they’re interested in. They’re interested in electric cars. So I started up electric car program to train veterans to be electric car technicians, get a free laptop, to have a stipend and to have it all be independent of the GI bill. So it’s already funded. It’s already ready to go in June. I also had a Tesla interested in the program.
Jerome: I asked them if they were interested in hiring veterans who went through this program and they told me that they wanted to hire veterans now. So I had a big event in April 22nd which is Thursday. I had the congresswoman of our district congresswoman spirits. She came down and spoke at our event and we had several recruiters. They’re about a hundred veterans and now we’re in talks right now. I just had an interview with them or meeting with them last Wednesday.
Jerome: They’re looking about 18 of the veterans from that event and they really liked it. So they ask you to form another event and this time they said bring hundreds. Bring as many veterans as we can possibly find and we’re going to base it off with the ones that they pick now. What kind of qualifications they’re looking for. And we’re going to get those winners funneled straight to Tesla right now to get hired right away. And they’re hiring about 1500 veterans. 1500 employees. I’m going to try and make sure that they’re all veterans.
Tonya: How can people find out about this point that they want to support you. I’m assuming you need public support as well.
Jerome: Yes. I’ve done TV interviews. We had channel two news that our, that we had San Mateo Times and San Jose Mercury News reporter call from New York. But if we could get the world out any other way I’m forming a website right now to pass more information on. But it’s [inaudible 00:35:05] because joint force veterans. And I don’t have all the information there. But right now I don’t really have a place where you can go to look it up.
Jerome: If you could just have the veteran’s contact Tesla or contact myself. I can give you my contact information after this. I don’t have business cards. I’m just the president of veteran’s club. But [inaudible 00:35:32] to arrange the program and now there’s the [inaudible 00:35:36] East Coast Nissan has approached me. And now Nissan wants to hire veterans and they want me to do the same thing with them as I have done with Tesla. So this will mean more jobs for veterans coming home. So I’m looking forward to working with them.
Tonya: Thank you so much for your service. I appreciate it.
Jerome: Well I wish I could do more, but it seems like the mission is accomplished. So Obama and [inaudible 00:36:01] are doing a great job. And I’m very, very happy that the mission is pretty much almost accomplished [inaudible 00:36:09].
Ian: Off that, actor Sean Kanan will stop by to talk about this journry from the Middle West to Europe. And finally, Hollywood.
Sean Kanan: I got my big break[inaudible 00:36:20]. Let’s turn World Footprints radio.
Devane: Hi. My name is Devane and I’m from California and I like World Footprints radio.
Ian: World’s footprints radio is an award-winning group tasks and leader and socially conscious travel. Host Tonya and Fitzpatrick in entertaining an informative interviews with Wellman celebrity news makers, authors and industry professionals from environmental leaders like Bobby Kennedy Jr and David Rockefeller Jr. To conservationists like actress Stefani Palette and directed Ken Burns who need to get travel journalism at its best, visit unique places from around the world and stop by the world’sfootprints.com website for companies of travel, information including special baby travel be used.
Emmy: Hey. This is Emmy [inaudible 00:37:27].I love listening to World Footprints radio [inaudible 00:37:35].
Ian: You’re listening to World Footprints radio. Awarded as the best travel audio [inaudible 00:37:37] by North American travel junior association. Here’s Tanya and Ian Fitzpatrick.
Tonya: Welcome back. I’m Tonya Fitzpatrick. Sean Kanan is an international actor best known for his comic role [inaudible 00:37:50] Bad boy but then real life he’s [inaudible 00:37:58]. Infact he’s so fizzy with his multiple interests from art ,cooking, comedy, advocacy, film projects and more that he doesn’t really have time to be too naughty. And luckily for us, he set aside a little bit of time to join us. And Sean I’d like to welcome you to world footprints.
Sean Kanan: Tonya thank you very much. It’s nice to be here. I just want to let you know that I actually am devilishly sexy in my real life too. So [inaudible 00:38:28] is actually wrong.
Tonya: Oh well, you know you have a lawyer here if you ever get into trouble. So they really, so you’re always on the go. When we talked earlier, you’re rushing out and you have so many really have a well rounded eclectic group of interest. Is there anything that you don’t do?
Sean Kanan: I love what I do and whatever I do, I get as involved as I can. So, there some people might say it has been a little bit of a workaholic, but I mean for me, I just love what I do, whether it be acting, producing my advocacy work, whatever. So, I don’t look at it like work, I just.
Tonya: It’s a good Midwestern values. I like to say.
Sean Kanan: It’s funny you say that because I really do still consider it a lot of ways Pennsylvania to be my home and where I come from. And I think there, it’s funny when one person from the Midwest meet another one. I think it right off the top, gives you a bit of a frame of reference for how that person probably grew up in values and everything.
Tonya: Indeed, indeed. Now, how did a nice guy from the Midwest make the track to the North East Europe and in Hollywood?
Sean Kanan: I see guys since from a very young age I knew that I wanted to act. And it became, at that point just figuring out how I was going to go about doing it. And when I went to boarding school and when I was in boarding school, I unfortunately attracted the nickname Hollywood because I made the mistake of telling some of the other kids that I was going to go off to Hollywood and become an actor. You tell a bunch of 15 year old guys that when you’re a 15 year old guy, of course they’re going to give you some ribbings. So, I knew at that point that it was just a matter of time.
Sean Kanan: I lived in Boston University, I was studying political science. And by the end of my sophomore year, I decided that I was going to relocate to Los Angeles and finish up at UCLA. Came out to Los Angeles and I was able to find a manager pretty quickly. In a relatively short amount of time, less than a year I got my big break with Karate Kid III. And there was an open call. I stood in line with approximately 2000 hopefuls. What John Al Wilson, who was the director of rocky and won the academy award, et Cetera, walked up and down the line and eventually chose me to go and do a screen test. And the rest is history for me.
Tonya: But you mentioned you studied polyshy but you didn’t really pursue acting and at BU or UCLA. I mean, did you have any training before Karate Kid III?
Sean Kanan: No. Yeah, I was actually studying with a Roy London who was, he’s passed on. But Roy was considered to be one of the best acting teachers I think ever he teaches with a heart. I had some really just a who is who of Hollywood in my acting class from Brad Pitt to Daryl Hannah, Sharon Stone, Jim Belushi. All these people studied with my teacher. David Spade, Adrian Paul from the Highlander.
Tonya: Talking about Karate Kid III it seems that even today, fans continue to take the mickey out of you. For the [inaudible 00:42:11]. But you may have an opportunity to run up real from Europeans on the Italian version of dancing with the stars. How far did you get in that competition?
Sean Kanan: I left at about nine weeks. I actually haven’t seen the American one. But I understand [inaudible 00:42:28] because he’s still, I already was doing very well.
Tonya: Yeah. Yeah. He was on the block I think last Monday, but he survived.
Sean Kanan: Yeah. That was an incredible experience. So I had never lived in a foreign country. Here I am, American fish out of water. I’m living in Rome and at the time I had been studying Italian, but really did not speak very well. I mean, now I’m almost fluent. But it was a weird experience. The dancing itself was very difficult. We rehearsed like three hours a day, and could do it in a foreign language and try and understand what the judges were saying and to learn the choreography. It was a lot, but it was an unbelievable experience. I just got back from Italy.
Sean Kanan: I was there over Christmas and new years and I have friends there that are lifelong friends. I mean, they’d come to see me here in the states. I’ve stayed with them. Here’s an interesting thing for anyone who’s listening. I was over in Italy with my girlfriend and one of my Jewish friends, Apollo, and he lives in the medieval town called be terrible. And the streets are very, very narrow in their cobblestone. So he had this car called a chink with Chencho, which means 500. And if you could fit this thing into a smart car, that’s all small. It is.
Sean Kanan: And so I was in the passenger’s seat.He was driving and my girlfriend was the back and we had filled the car up with gas. And I said, “Do you guys smell some gasoline leaking?” So we stopped, we checked it out and see anything, went and grabbed a coffee, would come back out. We start the car and I hear, poof. And the back of the car where the engineers ignite. Now the car’s burning. And so, we all get out of the car and my girlfriend left her very expensive camera in there.
Sean Kanan: And of course being the actor, producer I am, I went back, got the camera, I gave it to her, I said “Start filming.” And I ran inside and I got a fire extinguisher. But the long and the short of what I’m trying to say is that the entire thing is on YouTube. So if anybody wants to see this, all I got to do is put Sean Kanaan Italy car fire and you’ll see how we set a chick with Chencho car on fire. This past fall politics. Yeah.
Tonya: Yeah it was just a warning told you this would harm. All right? Oh Lord Sean. How did you end up in Italy in the first place when you moved there. How did you end up there?
Sean Kanan: I initially ended up in Italy because I was hired to do a film. I did a film called [inaudible 00:45:04] which means sons of Italy. Which was a really terrific film, about the true story of a group of battalion merchant marines sailors. We’re on a ship that was boarded by Algerian terrorists. The terrorists killed all of the sailors. It was a demonstration against what we’ve been, the chief seven conference. So I was hired to do this movie. I played the captain of the ship.
Sean Kanan: And we actually stayed in the town for about two months where all the sailors came from. And it was pretty emotional. So one of the producers on that film also worked as an agent in Rome. Once I was back in LA she called me and said, “Would you like to come to Italy and Dubai London on the stairway?” And I said, “What is the stallion? He said, you have to stars. And I said, “Yeah, sure. I guess. I think I can’t dance but well.” Next time I knew I was living in Italy and it was just amazing. It really was.
Tonya: As a dancer you certainly may think because you’re a martial artist that dancing would have been easy, but it’s a whole different skillset, a whole different muscle group.
Sean Kanan: It actually worked against me a little bit. I had the discipline aspect down, but the way that a lot of the stances are in the martial arts that I studied, we’re very strong and inflexible and it’s the antithesis to what you want for dancing. So, it didn’t really help me.
Tonya: What form of martial arts do you practice?
Sean Kanan: Well, I started studying, showdycon and shoot the root, which is Japanese. And from there I went up studying American kickboxing. And I also studied, she can go, which is a style that Bruce Lee actually created, which was an assimilation of a lot of different Chinese martial arts.
Tonya: Right. One of the things that I love about you, when I was reading, you love cooking.
Sean Kanan: All together.
Tonya: I’m going to make a comment to you and then the last time I made this comment to someone who was an Italian stuff that we interviewed in New Orleans. He actually proposed marriage to me but, my comment on air on live interview in front of my husband. So we had, I think both of us were so shocked that we had a little bit of dead air time. But I love men who can cook and I think it’s one of the most sexiest attributes a man can have. So bravo.
Sean Kanan: Yeah, no, I love cooking. As a matter of fact, I’m working on two books right now and one of them is actually, it’s a book about cooking and entertaining. And I’ll tell you a funny story. One of the chapters is called Showdown at the Coliseum. And when I was in Rome, I had a friend who owned arguably the coolest bachelor pad on the planet. He was about 30 meters away from the Coliseum. And it just got this incredible pad. And we started talking about cooking one night and he said that he thought that Italian chefs were the best in the world. And I said, “Well, you might be a pretty good.” I think there’s some pretty brilliant American chefs. And before you knew it, we had decided that we were going to have a cook off like delicate Cina.
Sean Kanan: We’re going to have a challenge in the kitchen. And so what we decided there was this group of models that we were trying to, get to know better, shall we say. And we decided that we were going invite the girls over for dinner the following week and we would each cook three dishes and then the girls would decide who won. So, after we made this challenge, it occurred to me that I had just challenged an Italian to cook Italian food in Italy for Italian.
Sean Kanan: I just, what am I thinking? And in the book I wrote about how in the shadow of the Coliseum, I was reminded of the not so great record that foreigners had doing battle in the coliseum. I love to cook. It’s a way of bridging the chasm between not knowing somebody and then being a really good friend There’s just something about breaking bread with somebody and when they see you cooking, hey, here’s the thing, you want a very visceral biological level. When you’re feeding someone, you’re basically helping their survival, right? We need food to survive.
Sean Kanan: So I think on a subconscious level when you’re feeding someone, you’re saying, “I’m committed to your survival.” And I just think that somehow people connect with that.
Tonya: In my family cooking is an expression of love. And so, I join you in that. And I love to have a cook off with you in DC one day. You’ve done a lot of traveling, Sean, and you certainly have an affinity with Italy, but you’ve also toured with the USO. Talk about that experience and what it meant to you to support our troops in the way you did.
Sean Kanan: I have tremendous respect for anyone who’s in our armed services and for their families as well because obviously the families of our soldiers have a tremendous responsibility to bear too. And it’s funny actually, one of my biggest regrets in life and people are always surprised to hear this, is that I didn’t go into the military for a while. I wish I had done that. Anyway, when I got the opportunity to go with USO, to go entertain the troops I jumped at it. We went to Bosnia and Kosovo and we went to scope Macedonia. And it was a tremendous experience. I went with Cherry Bradshaw with now Senator Al Franken, downtown Julie Brown, the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders. Who else went? [inaudible 00:51:12]. And I did stand up and it was just amazing.
Sean Kanan: We were based out of Rome, oddly enough. And then we’d fly out Fabiano Air Force base every morning to go and go to our destination. To get the shootings, young kids that are like eight years old and not getting to be with their families for Christmas and making that sacrifice on our behalf was just really moving. You mentioned with those 2 million when you’re performing in front of 5,000 people that have [inaudible 00:51:47]. It was funny. I was doing my routine. Some of the jokes were not, she didn’t, I’m like, what’s going on? When I got off, they were like, we got to a multinational peacekeeping force in the road. A lot of people from a lot of soldiers from met the Russia and other places where new audience speak English. So it was interesting.
Tonya: Yeah. Well, next time that you’re learning the Italian, you pick up a little bit of rush in here and there and you’re good to go.
Sean Kanan: Exactly. Exactly. So, you’re right.
Tonya: Is there one destination that, going back to travels, is there one destination that you’re just dying to visit that you haven’t seen yet?
Sean Kanan: Wow. There’re so many places that I want to go to that I haven’t. I rather go through the Africa. I just think that would be really incredible to go do a safari, go to Africa. And I would also like to go to Japan just because of my martial arts training. I would look there and see some of the tadpoles and that stuff. I’ve been fortunate, I’ve been everywhere from Borneo to Bora Bora. I’ve been to a lot of really cool places. And I love traveling. I mean, I’m absolutely would consider myself a world traveler and I try and travel as often as I can.
Tonya: Excellent. Love people like you. And certainly people like who could give back as well when you’re traveling.
Sean Kanan: Thank you.
Tonya: So, but you’re getting ready to go into production for a new film. So maybe the traveling-
Sean Kanan: Yeah I’m really excited about that.
Tonya: Tell us about my trip back to the dark side. Talking about travel, that’s kind of ominous.
Sean Kanan: Okay. A friend of mine a name Stanley asked me about a year ago to do a song, my trip to the dark side and a show on. And then when he was about 16 years old and she executive produced a film called, The Gridiron Gang, starring Dwayne Johnson on the rock. It was the number one film with the box office. So I didn’t really want to say no to Sean. We did the film on a shoestring budget and we just found out that yesterday it won the gold metal award that the World film festival, which is in Houston, not been released as of yet, but they raised the money to do the SQL based upon the good is that the first one got.
Sean Kanan: So we’re going to be doing the second one called my trip back to the dark side. I’m going to be a reply from my character of David sprints who is, he is a producer. But it’s an amazing character to play. And I like to do a lot of research when I do a role. So a friend of mine knew a guy who knew a guy that was involved in pornos. He’s a director and he actually worn the adult video award for best adult film director. So this guy, I call him up and the guy was nice enough to basically allow me to hang out with him for a couple of days.
Sean Kanan: Took me around, showed me his business, told me how a lot of things were. And it’s been a tremendous research tool. And I’m really looking forward to starting this film as John Young is going to be in it. If you Russell who has been in all the songs, movies, and it’s just a terrific script. I mean, it’s edgy, you don’t want to stripped, but it’s also got a lot of humor in it. And my girlfriend, Michelle is actually a co producer on the film which is great because Michelle and I love to work together.
Sean Kanan: She’s a very gifted producer. She and I actually just finished another project which, is going to be unbelievable. I did a rap video to meet it, rap video called on a soap star and in it a run moss from pulling the beautifuls in it and Josh Memorial from young and the restless. And it is hilarious. It’s got phenomenal production value. We’re in the final stages of editing it right now. And I think people are going to see this thing and go bonkers.
Sean Kanan: So Michelle and I own several cameras like the red, which the shooting a lot of movies on the red camera and a couple of five Ds. So we’ve got to do unique ability to get out there and actually make stuff. So we were always shooting something and she said, “What do you want to do next?” And they sound alike. “Let’s do a video. Let’s do a rap video.” Dr Ray’s son, Curtis young was about to launch or dropped his album, the cheese in it. It’s crazy. Really funny.
Tonya: I’m looking forward to seeing that when it comes out. When do you it to be released.
Sean Kanan: We’ll be done editing it in a couple of, probably two weeks. We’re trying to figure out what we want to do with it. What do we want to release it in Italy? I mean your die for sure, but I think people will be able to see it within the next six weeks.
Tonya: Okay, good deal. Finally, before we go to-
Sean Kanan: [inaudible 00:57:02] follow me on Twitter Sean Kanan and know all about it and what I’m up to. So I’m always trying to be a Twitter magnets. So anyone who wants to sign up for Twitter with me, that’s great. I’ll let you know what’s going on. You’ll know when the videos are out.
Tonya: Excellent. Well, I’m following you now so I’ll know.
Sean Kanan: Okay.
Tonya: Sure. I know you also spend a lot of time writing. What are you working on now?
Sean Kanan: My Big Projects of passion that I’m writing right now is my book, which is called Freeing David. Freeing David is a semi-autobiographical self help book. It uses the story of how to Michelangelo Create David. He stared and stared at a block of marble until he saw David and then he shipped away everything. That wasn’t David until there was only David. And the metaphor is that we all have a masterpiece that exists within us just waiting to be revealed to the world. And so the book is broken up in a series of chapters that deal everything from control to fear, the inner child, inner critic and all of that stuff.
Sean Kanan: And I use the experiences from my life as a backdrop for that. And I’m hoping that I’m going to have this done in this year because I would very much like to get it out. Because I honestly believe that there’s some stuff I’ve had some rough times. I’ve gone through a lot of stuff and if I can be of any help to anybody through my experiences, I have to share it. I don’t put myself out there as great philosopher or super, super involved cat. I’m just a guy who’s writing about some stuff that happened to me and trying to figure it out like everybody else.
Tonya: I bless you all. Certainly, you have an open invitation to come back on world’s footprint and show that because that’s what we offer here. Absolutely. Well, Sean Kanan, I appreciate you joining us today on world’s footprints, my dear, and I too look forward to the time we meet.
Sean Kanan: Thank you so much. It was a pleasure and thank you to all your listeners.
Tonya: And to the men and women who are still die country, we thank you. And we thank you for sharing this time with us today. We all look forward to seeing you here and reconnecting with you on our multiple platforms and social networks. You can find links to everything and sign up for our newsletter [inaudible 00:59:06] at worldfootprints.com. We’re Tonya and Ian Fitzpatrick and we’ll see you on here again next week, and until then we wish you blue skies and purposeful travel that leave positive footprints one step at a time.
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