Filmmaker Q&A: Garrett Scott
Director/Producer, Occupation: Dreamland
In preparation for the article 'The Docs of War' (January/February 2006), I interviewed several filmmakers about their experiences making documentaries about the Iraq war. Garrett Scott and co-director Ian Olds spent six weeks living with a squad of American soldiers from the 82nd Airborne stationed at a former Baath Party resort dubbed 'Dreamland.' The result is Occupation: Dreamland, a monumental document of the daily, grunt's-eye-view of modern warfare. In October, Scott took the time to answer a few questions via email. -- LU
Leif Utne: What sort of preparation/training did you have to go through before embedding with the 1/505?
Garrett Scott: No training. After the occupation phase began, 'embedding' became a much less formal process. A vast amount of journalists were in Iraq, and the Army was widely deployed with a standing policy of openness to the media. So we were just the next guys in a long line of journalists moving through that unit (if they were interested).
LU: The soldiers in the film are amazingly candid about their views on the war, and hold impressively diverse views. I was struck by how few seemed to care much about the larger cause they're supposed to be fighting for. Most were just focused on getting out of there alive. Because of that, the film doesn't seem to take a clear stand one way or the other on the war. Was that your intention from the beginning? Did you talk to any soldiers who are still unqualified supporters of the war?
GS: We never intended to bring our beliefs about the war into our close examination of events occurring in Iraq. The war is a phenomenon in the world now, regardless of our beliefs about it. It seemed reasonable to construct something worthy of the empirical tradition. We were always more interested in the ideas, beliefs, feelings and experiences of those directly involved in the war. Language and history led us to cover one side, which is only a contribution to the greater record. Taking a position on the war was not the goal of the project. The goal was to draw as much raw experience as possible in order to add to the record. Let's listen to them men and watch what they do. The results can be quite powerful, not dryly journalistic or sensational, allowing people to draw their own conclusions about the reality of the war.
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