A FEATURE FILM IN DEVELOPMENT
Southeast Asia has been selected for the location for principle photography because of its tropical rain forest, stark beauty, unrelenting heat and unpredictable monsoons. These men fought in breathtaking lush settings that were nevertheless unrelentingly harsh. American soldiers were not accustomed to the weather the culture or the people and by shooting on location the actors and crew will feel the stress these soldiers were under as they face these same elements. This will be a challenge of filming to have equipment that will hold up under the conditions, a dedicated production company that is accustomed to tropical settings and actors who are motivated and well led.
The prospect of a gay couple being professional, patriotic soldiers seems somehow alien for those times and yet it was a reality that has been true of all America’s wars since the Revolution.
The contribution of hundreds of thousands of gay veterans in and out of combat during the Vietnam Era has not been acknowledged as these men and women kept their sexual orientation hidden to avoid persecution, prosecution, discharge and violence from fellow soldiers. Denial of their contribution served the greater culture’s belief that gay people could not, would not, and should not fight for their country. The goal is for the audience to admire these men as real soldiers who served their country during an unpopular war that was not won and may not have been worth fighting in the first place.
Yet this war and the contribution of gay veterans gave the Russians pause to think we might fight them if they invaded Europe which they threatened to do at that time and helped the Chinese to be cautious about invading India, the largest democracy in the world. The intent is to create a realistic live action war film in the midst of a love affair between two men who must face America’s conflicted view of sexuality as well as its two mindedness about how to fight war.
Writer / Director
Richard Gayton, writer/director of Love in Country came from a career as a psychologist. After his wife’s home invasion murder in 1987, his book The Forgiving Place: Choosing Peace After Violent Trauma was featured during an appearance on Oprah. He appeared on Tyra after he forgave his wife’s murderers and one of them appeared
with him from prison to discuss forgiveness and trauma. His novel The Mind Travelers, a sci fi thriller about post-traumatic stress disorder was optioned for television but not made. Much of his work as psychotherapist and writer deals with violent traumatic loss. After psychology, he attended Orange Coast College Film School, then trained further as an actor taking small parts on television and stage to prepare him as a Director facilitating actors. He has written and directed two short films on the intimacy and trauma of war: Mind Travelers and Left Behind. He was the 1st AD on Adios Mi Amigo, Art Director on Agamemnon and worked in various capacities on other features. As much as Richard’s filmmaking has portrayed the action of war; the primary interest is always the human character as it evolves in response to the horror of combat.
Earlier in his life, his military experience during the time of the Vietnam War taught him the practice and realities of war, though he was not in combat. He attended Basic Combat Training as an Army Reservist, served briefly as an Infantry Platoon leader then several years as a Truck Platoon Leader, then four years as a US Navy Medical Service Corps Lieutenant. He worked with Marines who had combat trauma from the Vietnam War.
His training in psychology, surviving his own loss, his military experience and his experience helping others make him uniquely able to understand these issues and bring them to life in writing and film.
Currently he lives with his husband and two dogs in California and Thailand.
Director of Photography
1968, a few days before Tet the Lunar New Year, a squad of combat soldiers prepares for leave away from war in Vietnam. Ian and Reese, professional soldiers both non-commissioned officers, highly trained Rangers along with three other squad members are the only survivors of their platoon after it was overrun by the North Vietnamese months before. They relax in anticipation of R and R (rest and recuperation). Ian and Reese have fallen in love with each during the intimacy of combat, trauma and survival as they have faced nearly continual combat near the DMZ in South Vietnam.
Their relationship is an open secret in the squad with varying degrees of acceptance, conflict and rejection. The other members of the squad, Doc, Thumper, and Burd have more important issues to deal with than this couple’s unconventional sexuality: survival and doing their job.
Just before the Tet holiday, the squad’s leave is abruptly cancelled and they are given a Phoenix Program mission to kidnap a village official thought to be a Viet Cong operative and agent of the North Vietnamese. With this mission comes a new officer, Captain John Tower Heinrick, an expert in Asian philosophy, culture and insurgency warfare who has open secrets of his own. Captain Heinrick only values obedience to his goal of destroying the Communists using any method available. He changes the mission on his own, which challenges each of the squad members to decide what acceptable behavior is for an American soldier and ultimately threatens their survival.