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Director / CrewIamA (Afghanistan Veteran and Filmmaker who documented his experience deploying and the process of returning home. I finally finished my film after 8 years, and published it to YouTube.) AMA!

Apr 27th 2017 by fw_Flicker • 23 Questions • 115 Points

My name is Tyler Owen Morris. I am a former Marine, and a professional video producer. In 2009 I was deployed to Helmand, Afghanistan. I began filming the week I was informed I would be deploying, and now after almost 8 years I have finally completed my first film! "Removed from Reality"

I am told it's quite good, but I'm far too close to it. Several Marines that were on the tour have called it "nostalgic"- which I have taken as a sign that I got something very right about the feeling(s).

I am uncertain to my legal ability to 'sell' the film for distribution, and I really just want people to see my work- so I just put it on YouTube. I hope you watch it, and I hope you get something out of it- I know I got a lot out of making it! Ask me anything!

TLDR; I made a film about the War that I can't sell- so I put it on YouTube.

Proof: https://youtu.be/Sq8WyCNHw1U http://imgur.com/haO9DX9

Q:

Are you worried about conveniently disappearing because you're giving insight into one of the governments secret clubs?

A:

No. While I'm sure that some organizations must have the ability to do such things, I don't think I'm worth the expense. Also, no government organization in the world can un-publish my film, because it's also published to this blockchain thing... https://alexandria.io/browser/0a9fac

So, there's definitely no need or advantage to making me "disappear"


Q:

Yea good point, the other question that came to mind was why you call yourself a former Marine? My buddy said once a Marine always a Marine.

A:

former indicates that I am not active, but also not retired. Yes, I retain the title Marine, but I did want to clarify that I got out in 2010.


Q:

Did you pick up any of the language?

At 37:49 the 2 guys sitting on the cot (ANA soldiers?) says to your buddy filming "How are you girl?" "Aren't you a nice girl?" LMAO!

Source: Am Pashtun from Kandahar, but lived most of my life in US.

Watching the whole thing. I like it so far.

A:

OMFG!!! I was wondering that for so long! THANK YOU! ahahahahahaha!!! that is so funny! Everyone is busting everyone elses balls- just like I thought!

Yes I did pick up a little pashto, but not very much at all. I learned more Somali in Djibouti on my first tour, and I remember that better than I do any Pashto.

DUDE! You are so awesome! I can't believe this!


Q:

Haha...sure thing. Let me know if you have any other audio/video you need translating. I was in theater in from 2010-2011 working as a translator with an US Army MI unit. So I have my experience working with US military. Still good friends with the unit I was embedded with. This documentary helps me understand my country more as well since I left at a very young age (1979) after the Soviet invasion. Was born in Afghanistan. I'm an American citizen but Afghanistan is the country I lost to war.

A:

if you had the pictures and video to tell this story- I'm sure it would be totally amazing!


Q:

Ok, I watched the whole thing. Despite being rough around the edges I thought the editing was done well...the audio could have used some work (nearly lost an ear drum on a couple of scenes, others hard to hear your commentary over the music), but overall I think you did a fine job telling your story and explaining your history. It's what has defined you as a person but know that it doesn't control your destiny. Your mother played a huge role in your life and I'm sorry it couldn't have been a more positive one. I hope you find closure with this film and somehow find peace and forgiveness with your mother. She is misguided and stubborn, but it doesn't mean she doesn't love you.

Let me know how the video game turns out...I'd be happy to take it for a spin.

Finally...

Call Dianna...

A:

HAHAHA! Thank you very much, and I am aware of the audio issues. Should I ever screen it anywhere I should hope I have that fixed.

Regarding Diana... we are in a decent amount of contact. We are good friends, and we love eachother dearly. There is no need to call her- we have been talking all the way through this!

and, the game is live at: www.argzombiesgame.com


Q:

Ok, I watched the whole thing. Despite being rough around the edges I thought the editing was done well...the audio could have used some work (nearly lost an ear drum on a couple of scenes, others hard to hear your commentary over the music), but overall I think you did a fine job telling your story and explaining your history. It's what has defined you as a person but know that it doesn't control your destiny. Your mother played a huge role in your life and I'm sorry it couldn't have been a more positive one. I hope you find closure with this film and somehow find peace and forgiveness with your mother. She is misguided and stubborn, but it doesn't mean she doesn't love you.

Let me know how the video game turns out...I'd be happy to take it for a spin.

Finally...

Call Dianna...

A:

I don't want to go into horror stories, and start getting myself all upset, but I do have one small story for you. We had access to the internet, back when the whole internet was 4chan, and she caught me looking at porn at age 11. My punnishment was to write a 10 page essay double spaced with sources MLA cited- on the perils of the porn industry and why it's wrong to objectify women, and I was grounded until I finished.... I was 11 years old. I don't think I wrote another essay like that until senior year of college.


Q:

im prob your age and I remember printing pics of naked woman to show my friends at school in 4th/5th grade. In middleschool I found rotten.com but 4chan didn't have an audience outside a few people until like 2005 , 2006. I am just confused if you are saying you frequented 4chan or if your saying your entire internet experience was a lot like the content on 4chan.

A:

entire experience was a lot like the content on 4chan today, yes.


Q:

I am 12 mins in and wondering why this isn't on Netflix. I only meant to watch a minute or two of it to see the quality, but I fully intend to watch it all after leaving this comment. My question is, slightly on a tangent, have you considered approaching Netflix about this and getting some money for your effort?

A:

I have worked in the industry for many years. I am aware of the quality of my work... which is why dropping it on YouTube for free is way cooler than begging netflix to look at it, or trying to work with a media aggregator- more interested in squeezing pennies out of it than getting eyeballs on it...

Good things will come. I have faith in my work. The YouTube move is just a filmmaker "mic drop"-esque cool guy move that I am hoping I can get away with.


Q:

What's your title called btw will check it out on youtube!!.

A:

WATCH THE MOVIE. Seriously... Yes ACTUAL WAR STUFF (could you be more vague)... if you watched even 5 min, you would see what aspects... I'm not a soldier, and I'm certainly no ex anything. YES near death experiences- I was on the front lines in the Marine Corps in Afghanistan- PEOPLE WERE ACTIVELY TRYING TO KILL ME! I know who you are. You're that kid in the bar that hears military and asks "have you ever killed anyone?" was that your next question? Did I guess right?


Q:

Hey, I watched it all.

It is a revolution that normal soldiers like you can tell stories and post them for everyone to see. This way, we see the reality, which was in this case, your reality, but this is the closest that most of us will be to the way we will experience the war.

There is a feeling in me that wants to hug you, even tho I have no clue how you must feel, I feel kinda sad for the soldiers that are dragged into a war that is not theirs. Like you said after the Afghan video, those are just people like us, fighting their war. Which is crazy.

I hope that you found a place in your home country right now. It must be really hard getting back into it. My question is: What are you doing with your life at the moment? What kind of job do you have? And what are the daily stuff you struggle with at the moment? Also, looking back, do you think you did the right thing? Do you think that it made any sense about what you did? (Partly yes, because that Afghan police march was laughable.)

A:

I am currently an unemployed aspiring filmmaker. My last job was working for a video streaming service, taking the content from the studios, and managing the compression to get it up onto the service. I have made my living working with video for years- it's just what I do.

Daily- I struggle with anger. I'm not mad about the war- I'm mad that my mother and brother use the war as a defensive tool against me. They are angry hurtful people, and I don't want to be like that anymore- I have had to cut them out of my life entirely, because they are unwilling to even try to improve our relationships. They prefer to call me mentally ill, and blame me before they behave any differently. I'm very angry at them for that, and that is probably my biggest struggle- dealing with family.

Yes, I absolutely feel that I did the right thing. I believe that if you see something wrong in the world you should go out and get deeply involved. I joined the military with moral curiosity- wondering what this war thing was all about. I believe I caused more good than harm with my actions, and that's all any one man can do. If every anti-war protester had the courage to join the military, and refuse to fight- that would be considerably more effective than protesting... GET INVOLVED!! That's what I did. I got involved, and I did good. I feel good about what I did.


Q:

Enjoyed the film. Great work. VICE (tv/magazine) might be interested in your skills as a videographer. On another note (constructive criticism coming up), have you done an edit of this film that leaves out all the history between you and your mother - Just a straight expose' of your company's experience? It would shorten the run time, be a bit tidier, and would appeal to a wider audience. I realize the film is process for you working out your conflict with your mom but as a standalone war-piece it could be even more compelling. Thank you!

A:

Yes, I have done many other edits over the years. I even shot a bunch of interviews with some of the other Marines- to try and focus in on the unit... I did one with tons of voiceover one with no voiceover... I think the answer to this is in the opening- I needed to tell MY story of how I have been affected... the biggest change in my life is my relationship with my mother, that is why it's in here, and I think it gives the personal nature of the film more weight- like, this is some super real super personal shit, and that shit is why I did any of it in the first place. I think removing it would weaken the piece.

Can I ask why you don't want to see that part? What about it made you uncomfortable? How's your relationship with your mother (if I may be bold)?

I need a job. If you know anyone at VICE- tell them to hit me up, because they have ignored my applications so far.


Q:

I know your conflict was the catalyst for joining the marines but i thought the story of what happens day to day for soldiers in Afghanistan was the more compelling story for me. Sometimes in art we have to edit out our favorite parts for the sake of the whole. But you seem clear about your intention and it has been achieved so I won't meddle. Again, thank you for making this and sharing it. Great work.

A:

If you have any creative justification for cutting it beyond "killing my darlings" which is a practice I am very familiar with... I am all ears. I do appreciate the input, and creative interrogation- but I think I got it right. I really am curious if you have a good reason beyond "it made me uncomfortable" - because if that is the only reason, good- that's what I wanted!


Q:

Mr. Morris, do you have any pets?

A:

The dog in the film!! TANDY! She's real, and she's the best.


Q:

Hello Mr. Morris, are you still in the marines? If not, what is your job now?

A:

I am not in the Marines anymore. I am an unemployed creative person- hoping to work in augmented reality games. I make my living producing video freelance mostly... My last full time job was as a producer for a studio that managed content on a streaming service called Ultraflix.


Q:

Mr. Morris, who is your favorite fictional marine in a movie?

A:

Full Metal Jacket (1987) Kubrick was a genius.


Q:

Mr. Morris,how many more films will you make on the future and what will be the topics?

A:

I don't have a plan for number of films- just that I want to keep making them... and hopefully be able to put a roof over my head doing so. As far as topics- I have a background in visual effects, and I would love to do a Science Fiction FX piece at some point in time- other than that, no idea.


Q:

Mr.Morris how often are you on Reddit and what are your subreddits?

A:

I am on Reddit everyday- I'm mostly into going deep down the /all board. I love good documenataires, and so I go by /r/Documentaries every now and then. I'm also a gamer- so I hit up some gaming subs (I mostly play Blizzard games)


Q:

Mr.Morris, what is your favorite beer?

A:

I do really like me some Sierra Nevada, or Lagunitas.


Q:

Mr. Morris, did you get any injuries or illnesses from you time in Afghanistan?

A:

Only illness I got was the "yuck" that happens whenever you get on a new duty station with a lot of people moving through- usually everyone gets it, and it's like a cold/flu whatever all mixed- so everyone has different symptoms. Other than that nope.


Q:

Mr. Morris, did you get any injuries or illnesses from you time in Afghanistan?

A:

OH- One Marine was upset with me. He was in 1st platoon, and felt accused by the line "they hit the bomb on purpose" ... I really meant the commander Gysgt Campos, but he took it personal.

Also, he was on site for SgtMaj's death, and he was not happy I showed the image at all. He let me know that.


Q:

At the end you said you had one more story about Diane but you never mentioned it (or did I miss it?), what was it?

A:

We drank Ayahuasca together- several times- and that's pretty much it. If I start trying to explain how a hallucination helped me arrive at the conclusion... I probably won't make sense if you haven't experienced the drug.


Q:

Saw this and watched your youtube film. Thanks for that, it was a nice little watch. I lost a school friend in the British Army to an IED.

My question more revolves around your relationship with your mother though. Did your father not have any say in how you were raised? Obviously you said that your real first name is Tyler as named by your father, but your mother got her own way regardless. Is she that forceful a personality that she gets her own way in a given situation?

A:

Yes, she is that forceful. My dad tried to deal with it, they have been divorced since 1989. I lived in Ohio with my mother while my father lives in San Francisco - I left that out of the film... I dunno- just one less detail to make you process that went to the cutting room floor.


Q:

your mom

A:

cold, breh.