In August 2005, Marine Lance Cpl. Travis Williams and his 12-man team were on a mission in Barwanah, Iraq, when their caravan was hit by a roadside bomb.
In “1st Squad, 3rd Platoon,” one of the finalists in TheWrap’s 2015 ShortList Film Festival, brothers Tim and Mike Rauch use animation and Williams’ own voice to retell the dramatic real-life story.
The audio of Williams recounting that day was recorded as part of StoryCorps’ Military Voices Initiative, in which veterans chronicle their experiences in the military. The visual portion of the story was developed by the Rauches for StoryCorps in honor of Veterans’ Day 2014.
Beyond simply accurately capturing Williams’ physical appearance through the animation, the directors were determined to accurately capture his spirit. “It was important for us to get to know him very closely,” Mike Rauch told TheWrap. “If his friends were to watch this, they should feel like they see Travis on screen.”
They spent a few days visiting with Williams to get a better sense of him as a person. “We saw where he works, what he does every morning,” Mike said. But it was when they stopped by for an unexpected visit that they saw the side of him they wanted to capture on screen.
Williams was preparing for a day of paintball with his friends. They were sitting around his kitchen telling jokes and laughing. Seeing him with his friends, persevering after a tragedy, “the thing that really stood out was his resolve to live on.”
“Every day for him is a challenge in many ways,” said Mike, “but seeing that aspect — that’s what we really wanted to get across.”