Thunder Road Film: Movie With A Message

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When Steven Grayhm, Charlie Bewley and Matt Dallas of Astoria Entertainment approached mainstream Hollywood to pitch their film Thunder Road they were met with a less-than-stellar reception. Hollywood wasn’t interested in a gritty, honest tale of the human condition and the epidemic of PTSD among our returning veterans. Taking their story to the public they launched a crowdfund campaign originally on to raise funds to produce their movie their way. With two weeks left to reach their goal on Kickstarter they have now changed platforms to Indiegogo which allows more freedom for people donating, there’s been an outpouring of public support but much more is needed, please consider supporting this campaign which will create awareness of this important issue.
Throughout the campaign I have been fortunate enough to meet people who have been personally affected by PTSD and wanted to share why they support and want others to support Thunder Road.

“Help make an impact on this nation’s understanding of PTSD by supporting this film. Our hearts’ break because we have lost our sons and daughters in this war. Our brave young men and women are coming home with so many problems due to the sights and experience of war. With the loss of friends, brothers and sisters, they need to know that this nation understands the silent pain that they bear. No one who has served this country like our Heroes have should ever be in a place where they feel alone, misunderstood, or just unloved because of where they have been or what they have seen. Please help me in supporting this project, odds are that you have someone in your family or neighborhood who has come home from war and is “just not the same”. We need to embrace them, stand with them, and let them know they are not forgotten. We are thankful for their service and for having stood in the gap of FREEDOM for the citizens of this grateful nation. The young men that were with my son, Shawn Hefner, while he served in Afghanistan are now suffering from PTSD because of the sights of war and witnessing their brother in arms die by stepping on an IED. It is very important to me to help these brave young men know that they are loved by Shawn’s family. Each and every one of these young men have told me stories in which they feel they are responsible for Shawn’s death. The survivors’ guilt is so strong that some of them have had a hard time spending time with me. I feel like they relive Shawn’s death when they talk to or see me. I have made it my mission to reach out to them all. I want them to understand that I know what they had to do, I know the condition his body was in and that it no longer had to be “the silent memory” when they interacted with Shawn’s family. This last visual memory can be released, and they can remember Shawn laughing, telling jokes and just being a positive force in a place of war. I have heard amazing stories of the things my son did that saved the lives of many in this group. They hold his memory so dear, that we have become a part of their family as they are a part of ours. My marine sons are a very special group of men, they have my respect for their choice to serve this country and I am honored that my son touched their lives as he served and died for this great country. Helping to promote this movie “Thunder Road”, to educate America about PTSD and an understanding of just what war does to the hearts of these heroes, is so dear to me. We need to stand with my marine sons and all of our heroes, those who have stood in the gap for our freedoms, and help them to find peace, understanding, and a desire to go forth and live a long, happy and productive life. That is truly the way to honor Shawn and all of our fallen heroes” – Robin Hefner founder of Hico’s Hero her son Shawn P Hefner was KIA 11-13-09

“Woke up a 0300 to get a glass of water. I was extremely sore like most mornings but this was much worse. I pulled myself outta my bed using my attached bed-cane and walked about three steps and made it too the hallway when OH SHIT! My legs went out. I laid there for a moment, thinking what the hell. I tried to get back up but my legs were to sore. So I used my arms to drag myself to the kitchen sink to get water. Then proceeded to low crawl and drag my noodle legs to the recliner chair. It took everything I had to pull myself up. A while went by and eventually Dani (my wife) came out to see what I was doing. I told her “I can’t walk, everything I do to try and stand I fall.” I thought that the epidural I had from the VA went wrong or something. She call for an ambulance while I flopped on the floor with determination to somehow get the hell up using my canes the wall and anything around that was vertical. I know I have problems with my back and left legs after acquiring injuries in Afghanistan. But this was something new. I just seem to get worse as days go by.

Now imagine this is your everyday, pain and worsening pain. Your 29 and can’t hold a job and the government wants to take back some of your 100% disability check to save them money. What you do get does not add up in today’s economy and you still have the rest of your life to live..

The foundation for PTSD is set in stone for this young marine. What are we going to do to make sure he never feels like he’s better off dead? Suicide is a real problem with our young war vets, coping with a life that is nothing like he dreamed of just a few short years ago. Living with physical and mental hardship is something our grandparents deal with not a 20 something your old man with a family to support. Supporting this project to educate America is one the most important thing we can do as free American’s. Learn what PTSD is and lets stop this epidemic of suicide running through our young war HEROES lives.” -Chris O. –Wounded Warrior, Marine – served Afghanistan 2009 – served with Shawn P Hefner

“I just hope they depict PTSD & Veteran issues better than they do currently in the movies. Shit doesn’t end when they come home and attend therapy. The world they live in, we live in, is not the same. You can’t see it with the same eyes. Can’t judge their reactions by what is expected from society. Many have seen things that no human being should be exposed to, many have had to make choices that in a “normal” environment they would never make. And above all…they went to bed not knowing if they would wake up. The effects of PTSD on family members is almost as bad as the PTSD itself… and it is the number one reason for suicide among soldiers. The process of reintegration is too short and soon enough there is another deployment knocking at your door. No time to truly recover and try and pick up the pieces of what once was that person.” – Misplaced Soldier(currently enlisted so anonymity is required)

I’m grateful for these wonderful people for sharing their experiences and I’m hopeful that the public will respond in kind and prove to Hollywood that we as a society care about more than the next big blockbuster and want films to not only entertain but to educate. Pledge your support:


A Few Truths About Love

Anne is brilliant, this piece once again describes how I’m feeling so poignantly.

The Belle Jar

The truth about love is that there is a part of you that honestly believes that giving away all of your love will – no, must – result in receiving some kind of equal love back. If you didn’t believe this, your love would be impossible. How else could you justify all of the heartsick tears, the sleepless nights, the work and play that you’ve neglected?

The truth about love is that it’s not a physics equation. There is no law of conservation of love. Love can be created; love can be destroyed. The love that you put out into the world will not last forever, ricocheting between atoms, shifting shape as needed. A thoughtless heart can stop your love cold.

The truth about love is that someone can love you very much and still be careless or hurtful. Love is not a charm that protects you. Love is not…

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Thunder Road: More Than A Movie, It’s A Movement

Now into its second week the Thunder Road campaign by Astoria Entertainment still has a long road ahead of them. In support of the campaign the founders of Astoria Entertainment: Steven Grayhm, Charlie Bewley and Matt Dallas have headed out on the road with plans to visit cities not only in the United States, but in Canada and the UK as well. Each new day finds them running themselves ragged trying to spread the word through press interviews, corporate meetings, and fundraising events. And let’s not forget the intrepid endeavors of Charlie’s innovative PR stunt #Sweats4Vets, where each day he jumps rope for hours on end in front of national monuments and corporate buildings.
From its inception Thunder Road has truly been a labour of love, when Steven was inspired to create a script that would truly illustrate the realities veterans face when they return from service. After a life changing road trip in 2011 to research veteran issues, which brought them into contact with many veterans and their families, Steven found greater motivation to have his vision come to fruition. Which brings us to the present, after trying to have Thunder Road produced by traditional means Astoria Entertainment is now asking the public to help fund this important film and allow them to produce the film the way they’ve always intended it.

Thunder Road is the story of returning U.S. soldier SGT. CALVIN COLE (played by Steven) whom we meet in present day Detroit as a troubled veteran who suffers from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and tbi (Traumatic Brain Injury) from multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Initially resistant to the VA system COLE must find a way to assimilate back into civilian life before he ends up dead or in prison.
More than your typical war story Thunder Road aims to bring the human side of war to the screen, PTSD and other mental health issues are continually met with stigma in our society and this film would help create a dialogue and focus on such an important issue. Some may argue that you could be putting the money you donate to this campaign into veteran charities, which is valid, however helping to create this film will allow this issue to reach so many people on a global scale. Steven’s vision of creating a war drama with no political agenda is another way Thunder Road stands apart from its cinematic predecessors. Without the support of the public this film won’t get made, “It’s too real, almost uncomfortable.” says Charlie Bewley, in reference to why mainstream Hollywood hasn’t wanted to produce Thunder Road.

Every donation counts and truly no amount is too small, for as little as $10 you can access all the behind-the-scenes videos that are posted almost daily chronicling Astoria’s road trip, for $100 you can attend private screenings of the film once it’s been made. If you’ve been following the campaign but are waiting to donate there’s no time like the present, if you feel like you don’t have enough to make a difference you’re wrong, if each of Matt and Charlie’s current twitter followers donated $10 to the campaign they would have already surpassed their goal. Beyond the incentives you should support this campaign for its message and for the passion of the three men who are at the helm of this inspiring campaign. Hearing them speak about not only the campaign but of how their own lives have been impacted by the experiences of this journey is reason enough to support them.
More than a movie Thunder Road is a movement, please pledge today.