At Ease- The Movie:
Film to support our veterans with PTSD
to be filmed in Lansing in the spring of 2018

Two Lansing area artists are working together with actors and producers from around to make a movie to help veterans with PTSD called "At Ease", to be filmed locally in Lansing, MI at the Capital Regional International Airport in the spring of 2018. Story by Judy Putnam- Lansing State Journal. 

Two Lansing area artists are working together with actors and producers from around to make a movie to help veterans with PTSD called "At Ease", to be filmed locally in Lansing, MI at the Capital Regional International Airport in the spring of 2018. Story by Judy Putnam- Lansing State Journal. 

Mark Stiles, best known as a member of the quartet, Three Men and a Tenor, has set his sights on another creative outlet that has nothing to do with singing: a short film about veterans.

Stiles, who lives in Holt, teamed with Jamie Hope, a writer from St. Johns, to turn his idea into a script. It’s the story of the struggle of returning soldiers. And it’s envisioned as a positive film to promote healing, Stiles said.

Not only is it a homegrown idea, it could be filmed in Mid-Michigan.

Besides the script, they have Hollywood interested – actor Jerry Della Salla and director Christopher Shawn Shaw. The even have a title: “At Ease.”

Now they need some funding — $100,000.

"The funding is everything. We can’t really move forward without that,” Stiles said.

The producers — Stiles, Hope, Della Salla and Shaw — are looking for individual donors and business sponsors. They will begin a crowdfunding campaign in the spring.

Despite a lack of background in film, Stiles came up with the idea about two years ago after watching the 2009 movie, “Taking Chance.” Inspired by a true story, it starred Kevin Bacon as a Marine who volunteered to escort the remains of a young soldier killed in Iraq to his hometown in remote Wyoming.

At Ease Story Creator- Mark Stiles

At Ease Story Creator- Mark Stiles

“The story line of that movie caught my attention and my heart,” he said. “...It was a side of war you don’t normally see.”

 

Without giving away too much, Stiles and Hope say the story is about a soldier, Christopher Holden, who has a confrontation at an airport bar. A security guard, John Townsend, also a veteran, steps in and the two find much in common. It also includes the experience of female veterans.

St. Johns writer Jamie Hope visits the Veterans Memorial on the Capitol grounds Jan. 20, 2017. She is interested in supporting veterans and has written a screenplay about a returning war veteran. (Photo: Judy Putnam/Lansing State Journal)

“It was just kind of an idea that was sticking with me — just see how much good we could do with it,” Stiles said.

And in a nod to the power of networking, Stiles, a 1986 Sexton High School grad, talked with Hope, a 1994 grad. The two met through Sexton alumni events and Stiles knew Hope was a writer. She self-published a young adult novel called “Illusion” that has favorable reviews on Amazon.

Hope, a former legislative aide and a substitute teacher, not only worked on the script, she made some film world connections, meeting Shaw, who has completed several short films, on Twitter. Shaw is interested in a film version of “Illusion” as well as making “At Ease.”

Then Shaw ran into Della Salla at a coffee shop and got the actor interested. Della Salla is an Army war veteran who served in Iraq. In 2010, he appeared in the movie “Green Zone” starring Matt Damon.

Hope said an “A-list” actor, who may join the cast, is reading the script.

Jamie Hope of St. Johns wrote a young adult novel, "Illusions." Now she's turning to screenplays. (Photo: Courtesy)

Ideally, filming will take place this fall.

Both Hope and Stiles have family members in the military and Three Men and a Tenor — now celebrating its 25th year — performed for wounded U.S. troops in Germany in 2004 and 2006.

Hope said the project has three goals: to honor veterans, highlight issues they face and raise money for a designated nonprofit.

She envisions it being shown at festivals and being shared via digital download. They may try to distribute to theaters as a short film prior to the main attractions.

The group chose a Carrollton, Georgia nonprofit, Peace at Home Project, that works with veterans using horse therapy, to receive 20% of any profits.

“Our hope is that we can partner with local businesses, business people and anyone would like to donate,” Hope said. “It’s not a low-budget movie. We’re not going to get rich off the project. We’re not doing this to make money for sure.”

Interested? Contact Hope at JamieAnnHope@gmail.com.

Judy Putnam is a columnist with the Lansing State Journal. Contact her at (517) 267-1304 or at jputnam@lsj.com. Write to her at 300 S. Washington Square Suite #300 Lansing, MI, 48933. Follow her on Twitter @JudyPutnam.