Movie perfectly captures experience of returning from war

Eric Dehm
June 28, 2018 - 2:38 pm

Photo courtesy BJ Golnick

When Tim Kennedy and Dr. Mike Simpson, the Green Beret stars of History Channel's 'Hunting Hitler' recommends a film, you should check it out. That's what we learned when we watched B.J. Golnick's award-winning short film 'Almost Home.'

Without giving anything away, the film (available in its entirety below) tells the story of a Marine both in, and returning from, battle. One thing that is given away as soon as you press play is that 'Almost Home' "just gets it." In 13 minutes-plus, on a limited budget, Golnick has hit a mark that is missed by most major films with A-list casts and production costs that rival the latest NDAA. 

Golnick, who starred in the film along with directing, co-writing and co-producing it, never served in the military. So you might wonder how he was able to create a piece of art that so correctly captures the outside the wire small-talk, chaos of battle, and quiet but massively emotional moments back home that have been a part of life for so many in uniform in recent years. The answer to that question, which won't be a surprise if you've seen the film, is family. 

Photo courtesy BJ Golnick

The filmmaker explained during an appearance on Connecting Vets' Morning Briefing radio show that his father and brother both served in uniform and it was something he grew up with an innate knowledge of.

"I've kind of been bred into it, although I never joined myself," Golnick said. "It was kind of a two-way street for me and I was like, y'know what? I'm a far better storyteller than I am someone that stories are told about.... it was instilled in me from an early age and the values of the military, the values of our service members is just something that I've always been fascinated with and I find above all else just incredible." 

So he entered the media business and has found success working on a wide variety of projects as a cinematographer and director, along with producing 'Almost Home' in 2016. The film did well on the festival circuit, bringing home some awards, but that was about it. Short films have a limited possibility for wide dispersal, particularly without a big studio backing them. They certainly don't get the exposure of something like his work on 'Hunting Hitler,' which brought Golnick into contact with Kennedy and Dr. Simpson.

It was Simpson who Golnick calls the "driving force" behind him putting the film out publically. After seeing it, the Green Beret told the director that while it was "nice" that it had done well in some festivals, it was time to get the film out online and available to people he felt "need" to see it.

Photo courtesy BJ Golnick

"He said 'I want to post it for Memorial Day, will you release it so that I can view it without a password and share it with people?' and I said OK man, yeah sure, I'll do that," Golnick recalled of the recent conversation. "So I was like, y'know, last minute kind of freaking out. Trying to be like 'is there anything I need to change in the film or update it' and he goes 'No, no, no, Goddamit. Just give me the film! Just release it!"

And so it came to be that the film was put up on Vimeo on Memorial Day, and then shared out by both Simpson and Kennedy, which has led to a second life for something Golnick assumed would only be seen by family and friends he personally showed it to. He's enjoying the increased visibility of 'Almost Home,' and says he's particularly happy for each pair of vet eyes that take it in.

"I could give a shit what film critics think about it, I could give a shit what anyone else thinks about it," Golnick said. "But if the military, the guys that I made this film for and that I made this film about, if they care about it and they're saying it's good. That is absolutely the only thing I care about."

You can listen to BJ Golnick's full Morning Briefing interview below. To listen later, click Share and select Download from the available options.



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