“Write what you know.”
That’s the old adage for screenwriting. You write what you grew up with, what you interact with on a daily basis, what you know to be true from personal experience. You write for your friends and those you honor, and you write what you most deeply believe. For me, SARGE reflects all of these sentiments.
I was raised by my grandparents Hildreth and Elmer Spencer, and they provided me the name for SARGE’s title character (Franklin was my grandma’s maiden name). When my grandpa was ailing later in his life, I spent a lot of time in hospitals and nursing homes. These environments were simultaneously dreary and full of love, filled with patients and their families. A WWII veteran, my gruff yet kind grandpa always kept a stiff upper lip, but even he was shaken at some of the sights of loneliness and dementia in the homes.
In speaking to veterans like my grandfather, I grew up with a sense of pride in our military and those who have served. Many of my closest friends have served and are still serving today. I wanted to capture some of the essence of an authentic WWII GI with this film and even some of the horror of war. I also wanted to raise awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder, its triggers, and its connection to dementia later in life.
Finally, as an adult working as a producer and medical storyteller, I have witnessed firsthand many personal and harrowing stories of what psychological diseases can do to patients and their families. These productions have influenced me to craft a story that also draws awareness to those who suffer from diseases that cause dementia as represented in SARGE.
For me, SARGE is more than a culmination of what I know. It is what I believe in. I hope everyone who views this film will feel the sense of reverence for veterans and those who ail from psychological disorders that I do. I hope everyone leaves the theatre with a lump in their throats and an urge to call or visit their loved ones in assisted living facilities. I hope this film means as much to those watching it as it does to those making it.
And above all, as a filmmaker, I hope to do this through a kind, heartfelt, and even fun film. Thank you for reading and for your support of this story.