GCC grad sets first indie film in Vietnam, films locally
Submitted by Howard Owens on February 2, 2010 - 10:17am
Genesee County is a long way from Vietnam, both as a matter of time and geography, but for GCC graduate Philip Sacco, it was just the right location to shoot some of his first feature film, "When Soldiers Cry," which will be released on DVD in two weeks.
Sacco, who works professionally as Joe Black, has spent three years on the self-funded project. He said he fell in love with film making after taking a multimedia class at Genesee Community College.
Before that class, he was working on a degree in physical therapy.
"I loved photography and film so I wanted to give that a try," Black said. "Five minutes into the program I was hooked."
"Mr. Chow showed me the tools and how to use them, from there it was up to me to bring the tools to life," Black noted. "I think we both sat down one day and said something like, 'don't just take a picture, make one.' To me, that's all you need to start with. Mr. Chow pushed me in media by critiquing my work and projects. He's a tough teacher but also a good friend. He has been my mentor throughout this entire endeavor."
Black wrote the screenplay for "When Soldiers Cry." He also planned the filming, hired the cast, and did the primary shooting and editing.
The movie is based in1965 South Vietnam. Private David M. Church awakes from being rendered unconscious to find all of his squad killed by the Vietcong. During his lonesome journey to the Landing Zone for extraction, Church mistakenly shoots an American Tunnel Rat who is disguising himself as a Vietcong. Mentally broken, Church starts carrying the Tunnel Rat to save his life, fully knowing it may end his own. Trapped in the jungle surrounded by war, the only thing keeping them alive is the promise they made to their families to return home at any cost.
"Creating this film has been a tedious process," Black said. "I've learned so much. I've learned that nothing happens overnight, to be cautious each step of the way and that some people make films to make money and some make films to tell their story. I want to tell my story and hopefully the money will follow."
WBTA's Geoff Redick spoke with Black (mp3) who said his biggest goal was securing a good distribution deal.
"You need to go into Best Buy or Walmart so everybody can see it and say, 'this is a piece of crap,' or 'it's pretty good.'"
(Portions of this post rely on a press release from GCC)