Lake Forest man produces an unconventional look at war’s impact
Steve Platcow in his home Lake Forest . Platcow is executive producer of "Not Yet Begun to Fight" documentary about 5 vets under 30 years old and their struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder that is premiering around country and will be shown in Chicago on Feb. 9. His grandfather struggled with PTSD after WWI and the film is in memory of his grandfather and his mother. | Rob Hart~Sun-Times Media
What: Screening of the documentary ‘Not Yet Begun to Fight’
Why: Executive producer Steve Platcow is a Lake Forest resident
When: 12:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 9
Where: Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St., Chicago
Updated: March 8, 2013 6:06AM
LAKE FOREST — When Steve Platcow’s mom died, he felt the best way to honor her memory was to help veterans who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, an undiagnosed condition that haunted his grandfather.
The resulting award-winning documentary, “Not Yet Begun To Fight,” is described as an unconventional look at the impact of war and the journey to recovery.
Q. What inspired you to produce the documentary?
A. This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. In 2007, my mother passed away. Her father, who I didn’t have an opportunity to meet, was a World War I veteran who was blown up and badly injured when he rode a motorcycle from front line to front line delivering messages. He was in a military hospital for two years — this was pre-antibiotics. They wanted to amputate his arm because he got infection after infection. He was a carpenter, so he wouldn’t let the do it. They did eventually save his arm, with great peril. He also had severe head trauma and burns from mustard gas all over his body. My mom said he woke up two to three times a night screaming years later. He was suffering PTSD before we knew what PTSD was. At age 48, he laid down with a headache and died of a cerebral hemorrhage. Working with wounded warriors was a real opportunity for me to get to know my grandfather better and get to know my mother’s childhood.
Q. What is the setting of the film?
A. It’s really neat. There’s a foundation aligned with wounded warriors that sends guys recovering from their war injuries to retired Marine Colonel Eric Hastings in Bozeman, Montana, who teaches them fly fishing. Hastings was a fighter pilot during the Vietnam War who has found incredible solace in catch-and-release fly fishing. He finds redemption on the river and finds it a way to stay sane and safe in order not to be a danger to himself and others. His program is doing quite a bit of healing for these veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Q. How have viewers reacted?
A. It can be very difficult for people to see a soldier missing a limb. They have a tendency to look away and not see a person. We chronicle soldiers’ stories so we no longer look away. It’s a beautiful story. It’s not quite as shocking or hurtful to see someone in a wheelchair afterward.
Q. How was the film produced?
A. We were working on it two and a half years. We first met our veterans in the veterans hospital in San Diego. We had our principal photography there and in Bozeman during fly fishing. We follow up with the soldiers to see how much further they have come in their recovery.
Q. When did you release the film?
A. We first opened about six months ago on the film festival circuit. We’re really doing quite well.
Q. What is your ultimate goal?
A. We’re trying to raise awareness of the special needs of veterans suffering from PTSD. We want people to not look away. We want to make the point that it’s in society’s best interest to not look away, but to embrace these veterans.
More information about the film is available at www.notyetbeguntofightfilm.com.