Though female veterans are the American military’s fastest growing population — stories about them are not often told or heard.
“Blood Stripe,” one of the most recent films to be recognized by the veterans group Got Your 6, is looking to change that.
The title “Blood Stripe” refers to the scarlet band on the trouser leg of a Marine Corps officer’s dress uniform, and the film follows a female combat veteran and her struggles to reintegrate into civilian life when she returns stateside.
LifeZette was given a first look at the film — and it's a powerful, realistic and dramatic examination of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with a knockout ending.
Remy Auberjonois, the film's co-writer/director, told LifeZette in an interview he wanted "Blood Stripe" to be a "call to action" for civilians who do not fully know the struggles of many veterans.
The project was born out of a motivation by Auberjonois, 43, to work together with his wife, Kate Nowlin (pictured above), the star and co-writer of "Blood Stripe."
The two were looking for an "interesting character for [Nowlin] to explore" when they began researching PTSD and the growing roles of women in the military. Auberjonois said the two read plenty of firsthand accounts of veterans' experiences and eventually came up with the script for "Blood Stripe" together.
"I sent an early version of the script to a Marine, a former Marine ... He goes, 'Yeah, it's good, but there's got to be a lot more cursing,'" Auberjonois recalled hearing after seeking advice from a veteran friend about the script.
To ensure authenticity during the shoot, the film also had a veteran on set to help the team get the "small details" right.
"We actually had a female Marine Corps veteran on our set, who we met early in the process [while] sort of setting up our production," said Auberjonois.
With the film completed, Auberjonois has now been excited to team up with veterans groups and show the film to the very community the film covers.
"It's a challenging story," he said of his film. "We found that veterans have been grateful we're presenting this story."
One detail many veterans are especially thankful for: The movie is "not a triggering process to watch."
Due to budgetary constraints, Nowlin had to convey the effects of her character's wartime experiences without the benefit of flashback combat scenes.
The lack of those scenes actually works in the film's favor, as it doesn't boil down the character's trauma to a single experience. Nowlin is given more of a chance to convey her character through actions and words.
"We don't chalk it up to one event," said Auberjonois, adding that a lot of the stress veterans suffer can come from a variety of events overseas — and from just living in a war zone. Hollywood tales of veteran-centered stories can often simplify the military experience, but "Blood Stripe" wasn't looking to do that.
"We don't wrap it up in a bow," said Auberjonois about the lack of combat scenes and the ending — which is sure to leave viewers talking and debating.
Winner of the U.S. Fiction Prize at the 2016 Los Angeles Film Festival, “Blood Stripe” opened in New York on Sept. 29, 2017 and in Los Angeles on Oct. 13, 2017. This article originally appeared in LifeZette on Oct. 10, 2017 and has been updated.
Last Modified: November 10, 2017, 8:01 pm