FORT KNOX, Ky. (NNS) -- A small Hollywood army descended on Ft. Knox’s Salt River training range Aug. 23-25.
The team, consisting of producers, videographers, audio technicians, production assistants, agency representatives, photographers, and even a 1980’s recreational vehicle came to create a video that would show the world the Navy’s best kept secret, Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC).
Special warfare recruiting is a top priority of the Chief of Naval Operations. Commander, Navy Recruiting Command needed a recruiting video that was tailor-made for the SWCC community and turned to Detroit-based advertising agency Campbell-Ewald, which has been producing Navy recruiting materials since 2000.
Campbell-Ewald agents hired Bandito Brothers, a production company based in Los Angeles, to film the SWCCs in action.
Over the course of three days, the SWCCs of Special Boat Team (SBT) 22 and Hollywood professionals battled temperatures of more than 100 degrees, oppressive humidity, ticks and giant horse flies to film what will become an invaluable tool for SWCC recruiting efforts.
“The heat and humidity were a bit stifling, and [the heat] was compounded by the 40 pounds of body armor we wore while filming,” said Peter Trucco, Bandito Brothers executive producer. “But, we wanted to put ourselves in the real environment and experience what the SWCCs have to go through on a daily basis. We only had to experience these conditions for three days. These guys deal with these conditions or worse every day.”
Scott Waugh, a Bandito Brothers director, did his best to interviewees with his friendly demeanor and stories from his days as a Hollywood stuntman, hoping to capture on film the camaraderie and fellowship within the SWCC community.
“I think it went pretty well, [Waugh] asked a lot of good questions,” said Special Boat Operator 1st Class Carlos Vargas. “He made it relaxing and as easy as possible.”
He asked a wide range of questions from, “Why did you become a SWCC?” to “Would you take a bullet for one of your fellow SWCCs?”
Interviewees never once hesitated to answer the latter with a firm “yes.”
Trucco was most impressed with the brotherhood that exists amongst the Sailors of SBT-22, and was honored that they gave him and his crew insight into the SWCC family.
“There cannot be a weak link in the SWCC boats or it could have major repercussions on the whole craft,” said Trucco. “This condition forces all of the Sailors on board to be at the top of their game and to look out for each individual ... it is a real buddy system….”
To deliver a product that would adequately portray a SWCCs talents, Bandito Brothers made sure they arrived in Kentucky prepared. Before leaving Los Angeles, Trucco and his crew sent 50 boxes filled with video cameras, microphones, cables, batteries and tripods to Kentucky.
Upon arrival, he met up with a company which provided lighting equipment and a 14-foot crane arm to be used with a gyro-stabilized camera head. The crane was secured to a SOC-R specifically designated as the “camera boat.” The 16mm camera attached to the crane allowed for a variety of high and low angle shots of the boats as they maneuvered up and down the river, sometimes at speeds greater than 35 knots.
Trucco admitted that filming on the water was a bit of a challenge, but working with the SWCCs in their territory was essential to the video’s ultimate success.
“The motion of the boat and countering that movement all the time makes it challenging to film,” said Trucco. “We were excited by the challenge of filming in the real environment and respect the rigor and constraints these men have to go through on a daily basis. For us it is only about getting a shot, for them the price is a bit higher; it is their lives on the line.”
SWCCs from SBT-22 are eager to have a recruiting product that is tailored-made to them – a product that shows how their mission compliments other special warfare units.
“Whenever anybody sees us, or thinks of us, the first thing that comes to mind is SEALs, and a lot of times we’re misrepresented,” said Special Boat Operator 2nd Class Jason Laska.
Laska hopes that this video will open the eyes of potential enlistees to this demanding but rewarding job, and it will help bring in the right candidates for the 26-week, SWCC Basic Crewman Training course in Coronado, Calif.
Chief Special Boat Operator Rob McKay, said the coverage is vital to the community because it will showcase the SWCCs capabilities.
“It lets people know who we are and what we are about,” said McKay. “Hopefully [it] brings fresh faces…who want to do this job and be part of something special.”
Special Boat Operator 1st Class Jeffrey Harris agreed this project is long overdue, although he sometimes enjoys being part of the “best kept secret in the Navy.”
“People are just now finding out what our capabilities are,” said Harris. “Hopefully [this video] gives us the manning that we need to push on."
In all, Bandito Brothers shot 11 hours of high definition digital video and film in three days of shooting. The first product is scheduled to be completed in October.Download PDF