RESILIENCE: The Documentary
My name is Nicole Amelio-Casper, and my mission is to catalyze change through film to empower Veterans, their families, and others affected by trauma. Through our film RESILIENCE, we aim to reach 1 million Veterans and their families with this message.
My personal story is not uncommon in the military family community, of which I have been a part for over 20 years. My family members and close friends who served our country faced challenges that many civilians cannot begin to fathom. I have seen firsthand how PTSD and war affect families in ways most cannot comprehend.
My valiant circle of best girlfriends experienced extreme violence at war or even within their own unit. I understand the struggle acutely and intimately.
This is why I am dedicated to serve Veterans every day through my work with nonprofit organizations. I help raise funds to provide supportive services and programming, high quality affordable housing and overall empowerment for Veterans and their families.
As a filmmaker, I am compelled and determined to further contribute to the effort through highlighting real solutions to combat PTSD so that our warriors can live fully after their service. In 2016, I directed and produced an award-winning documentary: The Journey Back to Normal – A Look at Complementary Therapies to Combat PTSD. This award-winning film successfully presented several effective, alternative ways to heal from PTSD outside the four walls of a therapist’s office, including immersive canine and equine therapies, outdoor/nature therapy, and even shooting therapy. I assembled a cohesive and talented crew to help complete the film – a team of editors and post-production pros, each with an authentic passion to serve Veterans and others in the community through film. Utilizing personal funds/savings, we raised a shoestring budget. With the support and contributions from this dedicated, collaborative, and unified production team, we produced an extraordinary, informative film that is helping Veterans around the world.
After producing The Journey Back to Normal (3 Best Documentary Awards, one BestEditing Award) many integrative therapies have emerged for Veterans and their families, and many asked me, – well let me say – URGED me to continue the journey to “save lives” through my storytelling in film. I felt a calling to continue my work, and thus the idea for Resilience: The Documentary was born.
Our vision and mission are deeply personal. We are all connected to the military and veteran community either by family or prior service to our country. The investment that my team and I have in this project is unquantifiable. RESILIENCE: The Documentary will be produced by a devoted team who understands the military journey and Veteran journey.
We are in production now and have conducted close to 50 life changing interviews – we have a sense of urgency to support and empower our nations’ heroes and highlight real solutions to those who need authentic healing and empowerment.
20 a day – active duty or Veterans commit suicide – and every 65 minutes a veteran or active duty takes their own life…. We want to impact the community so that this number is decreased to zero.
We have also listened to Veteran stories of triumph through tremendous adversity. This film was formerly named “Hidden Wounds” because Hidden Wounds is NOT the whole story.
The Veteran stories we filmed all shared a common thread of resilience. This caused deep reflection in how we wanted to portray Veterans. We interviewed people who were or are still a bit broken, but in the midst, are drastically changing their course. Their military experience gave them fortitude – that most can only strive for. It is ingrained, a strength immeasurable. The title change is fitting.
Here is the scope of the Documentary:
First – Our intent is to tell the raw story – the raw story of the “military experience” downrange, the dynamic while deployed, the pivotal moments when they return home, and ultimately how they navigate the civilian workplace, the community and most significantly, their home with their loved ones. The RAW Story has many layers AND we intend to delve and dig deep during intense interviews as they share how they navigate the rough terrain of civilian life after multiple deployments, how they maintain emotional healthy relationships within their community of fellow Veterans as well as their “tribe.”
Further, we will tell the raw story of Veteran suicide and talk to surviving family members, and how they are coping, and what they’ve done to honor their family members memory. Another element of this documentary will highlight grassroots organizations, Veteran owned non-profit organization, Hidden Wounds in partnership with Project Josiah (https://projectjosiah.org/). The Marine Reconnaissance Foundation, https://reconfoundation.org, Project Refit, projectrefit.us, Heroic Gardens, heroicgardens.org, The Lazy Lab Hunting Club, lazylabhc.org, Awareness 22, https://awareness22.com, The Barbara Giordano Foundation, giordanofoundation.org, and Freedom Sings – https://www.freedomsingsusa.org, and Project One Veteran at a Time, https://www.projectovat.org
We will talk to major players at the Department of Veterans Affairs as well as Military officials on the front lines of mental health and wellness initiatives. We will ask bold questions to these experts. (e.g., How can they better serve Veterans and their families? What can VA providers do better?) We will also discuss the impetus behind the paradigm shift to client centered care and their whole health initiative.
We will delve into the latest research on innovative therapies and the efficacy of each path. University of South Carolina’s Dr. Aubrey Sugeit and other researchers at Rutgers University will present substantiated research on several effective therapeutic methods to combat PTSD, and discuss best practices addressing the Veteran family and pathways to maintaining healthy relationships.
We will ask bold questions to politicians fighting on the frontlines every day for Veterans.(e.g., What are local and state politicians doing right now to take action?) We will interview Joe Wilson in South Carolina and other politicians to discuss their recent efforts and stance on veteran issues.
And finally, we will present a Call to Action – As a nation, what do we want to achieve forour nation’s heroes? What can the community at large do to help?
Grassroots organizations will prove their models are scalable and can achieve position outcomes on a broader scale. Yes, our nations heroes are warriors, yes, they are resilient, adaptable, and can conquer all. Yet, we must be cognizant of psychological effects of serving – that when properly addressed can lead to a stronger warrior in the end – stronger for their country, stronger for their community and stronger for their family.
We are currently crowdfunding and have partnered with Filmmakers Collaborative as our nonprofit, fiscal sponsor so all donations are tax deductible!
Resilience – the Documentary will cost $50,000 to finish production, post-production and marketing and distribution. Specifically, to retain our professional film crew, for all production, and post-production costs; all insurance costs, administrative and legal costs, accounting costs, development, fundraising/marketing efforts, film festival outreach and exposure, public relations activities, marketing, and distribution costs leading up to network distribution. We will ensure 22 % of all proceeds will be filtered to non-profits in the film after expenses are paid.
We have successfully raised $19,585.00 via our own networks; Awareness 22 donated $9000.00 to film the trailer and cover two film shoots in Philadelphia and New York City. Project One Veteran at a Time also donated $11,000.00 to film two shoots in New Jersey. Both non-profit organizations are small operations and serve Veterans every day.
RESILIENCE has an impactful message and a mission that is timely and relevant.
We hope you join us on this journey to shed light and honor military lives and highlight those who create life giving community with them – every day.
Nicole Amelio-Casper, MA
Director and Producer
Nicole Amelio-Casper, Independent FilmmakerSEE MEMBER PROFILE