The documentary Operation Hollywood centres on the book of the same name by Dave Robb, who was an investigative reporter for a Hollywood trade paper. He began to look through some of the documents detailing the various involvements of the US government in the movie industry and was astonished by the depth of the collaboration. Robb points out, “every film that the military assists always says that war is the answer and every film that the military assists is worse than any film that they don’t assist”.
The military has an outreach strategy. Philip Strub, a former navy colonel who headed the liaison office says it is a process of damage control. The pentagon offers its assistance to various projects. In this way the filmmakers get access to military hardware at discounted rates and the military can suggest alterations which may or may not be heeded.
The filmmakers sign a contract featuring these clauses….
“The production should help armed forces recruiting and retention programmes”.
“The production company agrees to consult with the DOD project office in all phases of pre-production, production and post-production that involve the military or depict the military”.
This creates an unfortunate climate
“Perhaps the worst thing about the collaboration between Hollywood and the military is not the censorship that goes into the films but the self-censorship. When you know that you are going to need the military’s assistance and you know that they are going to be looking at your script, you write it to make them happy right from the beginning.”
It is not hard to understand why these collaborations are so important to the military…
“To be a superpower there is a basic belief that you must glorify war in order to get the public to accept the fact that you are going to send their sons and daughters to die”.
Joe Trento – Director of public education centre.
Since 9/11 the climate has changed and the US military is much more active in its efforts to put forward its interpretation of events.
A case in point is the US TV series “Profiles from the front” which was about US soldiers in Afghanistan. This programme was presented as a documentary about the job US soldiers were doing in that country. The success of the series encouraged the military to go with the embedding strategy in Iraq. Bertram van Muster, the producer of the series was later appointed the pentagons official film maker.
Furthermore, one of the documentaries suggests that there is a “trusted list” of Hollywood people which it will come as no surprise, includes Jerry Bruckheimer.
In fact, after 9/11, at the pentagons request meetings were set up between military officials and “30 Hollywood ‘creatives’ chosen at random” who signed confidentiality agreements.
Also, since 9/11 there has been an expansion of the kinds of media being used.
The computer game “America’s Army” looks like something between a movie and a recruitment advertisement. The 50 million dollar ‘Institute for Creative Technologies’ (ICT) uses film professionals and computer experts to develop ways to train soldiers. The head of the ICT is the former head of special effects at paramount studios. The US government retains the rights to what is created at ICT but the designers may be allowed to use some of the work to sell commercially in the form of computer games.