The Joining Forces Campaign is an initiative set up by former Royal Engineer Matthew Weston and the British Filmmakers Alliance, designed to unite other early retired servicemen with filmmakers for the shared benefit of all involved.
Matthew became one of the most severely injured soldiers to have survived the recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq when he was only twenty years old. He has since gone on to become an ardent campaigner for veterans’ rights and developed a successful new career in the financial sector. He also has a deep routed love of film and joined us during the filming of The Spoiler.
It was a natural progression for us to launch a Social Enterprise that would allow other servicemen and women who, like Matt, had to leave their much-loved careers in service early due to physical or emotional injury, the chance to experience the thrill and teamsmanship of filmmaking.
Matthew Weston with Michael Hague.
We made our first short film ‘Love of Words’ to launch the Joining Forces Campaign. Our first planned feature ‘Thin, Brittle, Mile’, written with the help of Matthew and several other former servicemen who poured their harrowing experiences into the screenplay, is the story of a former soldier who suffers his greatest battles on his return home.
See synopsis below.
Every man’s final journey is always the journey home.
Thin, Brittle, Mile is the story of brothers Luke and Tyler Dearlove who travel to the remote , sparsely populated Skidaway Island searching for their third missing sibling. The brothers soon find something to be terribly wrong on the island and their enquiries, which stir up the most insidious of hornets nests, are greeted first with shrouded suspicion, then with open hostility, followed by blunt threats and harassment and finally escalating violence.
For Skidaway Island is a place of extremes, as beautiful as it is bleak. From its unforgiving landscapes, crumbling and fierce, to its rugged coastline, where the cold waters of the North Sea cut like teeth into the shore. The entire sins of the world seem to hang heavy, ever present and un-ignorable, in the moist air like vapour. There, its melting pot of inhabitants, the last remaining original islanders, defying the mainland company trying to expatriate them, to the European labourers, brought in to carry out the company’s work, co-habit in a rising tension that seems to border on the fringes of all-out war.
As the Dearloves pick their way through the island’s shrouded mystery the all-pervading conflict echoes parallels in their own relationship. Luke, a former soldier, returned from a tour of duty which has left him physically unscathed, but with a spirit which is broken, battles on with quiet rage. By contrast Tyler, ursine and bombastic, quickly forms bonds with the original islanders and seems to fit more with them after sharing one night of drinking than he does with the brother with whom he has shared a lifetime.
As uncomfortable and inconvenient answers surface, along with buried truths, Tyler has no choice but to accept the evidence of his missing brother’s probable murder and that his younger soul-sick brother’s ulterior desire is simply to find him, in order to join him in restful death.
However others on the island have a more ominous agenda and with Luke’s military background marking him out as a potential target for both sides to use in their war against each other and the mainland company responsible for the conditions in which they exist, a host of sinister troubling forces close in.
Eventually, when the Dearloves realise that the island’s treacherous mistrusting inhabitants will never allow them to leave, their venture into the land without pity culminates in a cold and brutal dark night of the soul after which nothing will ever be the same and Tyler is finally able to understand that the open and festering wounds of war are nothing compared to scars war leaves on the human heart.
And, with the final, cruellest, twist of fate, that war itself is no longer confined to distant shores but, in our present times, can come upon us at any moment, in any place and savage us in every way.
‘Every man’s final journey is always the journey home.’
Any man who starts a war must know he’ll never end it.