Come celebrate Veterans Day weekend and join us for a FREE public screening of "Victory Remembered, Legacy of the Black Devils". It is the true story of the First Special Service Force who fought in WWII. They were the original Special Forces, predecessors of todays Green Berets and Army Rangers. Their bravery and skills made them one of the most feared units by the enemy. There will be a Q&A with the director, Les Owen, following the film which is approximately one hour long.
100 Entrepreneurs Project interviewed Les Owen recently for their Podcast program. In addition to discussing who the Black Devils were and the making of his film 'Victory Remembered", Owen spoke about his career, how he became a film maker and what led to this particular project.
Interviews with Entrepreneurs
Les Owen, Veteran and Documentary Filmmaker
September 13th, 2017
Les Owen, Army veteran, produced the documentary film, “Victory Remembered, Legacy of the Black Devils,” about the First Special Service Force and the first joint US and Canadian fighting force, created to fight in Europe during WWII. This secret unit was named the Black Devils by the Nazis. The First Special Service Fource was undefeated in a military campaign that liberated Italy and ultimately lead to victory for the Allies. The film is now distributed on Amazon, iTunes and various cable channels. He spoke with 100 Entrepreneurs about how he created and produced the film, how he funded it, and what he’s working on now.
The Alaska Highway and the First Special Service Force.
"Victory Remembered” will get a special screening this evening in Dawson Creek, British Columbia. John Hart, one of the producers of the film, will be making the presentation as part of festivities celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the building of the Alaska Highway. Dawson Creek is "mile 0” of the highway and Fairbanks is Mile “1543”. The connection between the Black Devils and the Alaska Highway starts with a gentleman named Ed Borders. Ed (Elden) Borders was an engineering student at the University of Alaska when he was hired to conduct a survey of the proposed route of the Alcan (now Alaska) Highway. Starting in January 1941, Borders skied 1600 miles from Fairbanks to Hazelton, British Columbia in 91 days which was a world skiing record at the time. He was joined by his dog "Butch" and a cameraman who filmed the winter trip. It was later in 1943 that Borders joined the Canadian Army and was commissioned as a captain in the newly created First Special Service Force which was to begin training in Helena, Montana. Sadly, he was killed in action on Dec 6, 1943 on Monte la Defensa, the Force’s first major battle.
This past MemoriAl Day issue of the Annapolis Capital Gazette and Bowie-Blade News here in Maryland contained a front page interview with Les Owen which helped spread the story of the Black Devils. Writer John McNamara did a wonderful job of tying a lot of moving parts together to help readers get a sense of who the Black Devils were as well as talk about the film "Victory Remembered" in a meaningful way. Many thanks to John and the Gazette for recognizing the value of letting folks know about these special heroes! See the full interview at the following link.
The story of The Black devils is far too broad and the footage we shot far exceeded the time limitations for a single film. Therefore, I have created The "Victory Remembered Video Library" where you can find individual chapters and moments from the Entire film project as well as expanded outtake footage that covers additional parts of the story but didn't make it into the film. This makes it very convenient to view and share specific moments that you find particularly interesting, informative or meaningful. The reason I did this is to make this entire story easier to "pass on" to others and help preserve the memory of the story of The Black Devils.
We've reached another milestone in sharing our film! "Victory Remembered, Legacy of The Black Devils" is now streaming live online! This means people around the world can now view these affordable links (see below) and learn firsthand from the veterans and family members the emotional and inspirational story of the Black Devils during and after the war. Viewers will also enjoy the powerful original score composed by Alex Hernandez.
Reviews are already praising the beautiful locations that were filmed, the deeply emotional interviews and a well told exciting and important story so few people know about.
Thank you Lifesize Entertainment for making this happen. Please share these links with your friends and help spread the word.
Here are the links:
Vimeo On Demand
I'm happy to announce that Life Size Entertainment is now distributing Victory Remembered worldwide and will officially launch it on May 9th! They distribute to television programmers such as American Heroes, H2 and Histoire in Quebec as well as online streaming services HuluPlus, Dailymotion, AmazonPrime, Fandor, Dish Network, Google Play, Rogers VOD, Shaw VOD, Roku, Vimeo On Demand and iTunes!
At this time they are featuring Victory Remembered on their homepage along with other new releases which can be seen at http://lifesizeentertainment.com/. I'm so proud of this project and grateful to Life Size Entertainment for helping to spread the word! The version they stream is edited for television and is 55 minutes long and I hope everyone rushes to watch it! You can still purchase the original 2 hour DVD on this site at http://www.victoryremembered.com/store/ .
But WAIT! There's MORE!
COMING SOON there will be another exciting announcement regarding the NEW, FREE, "Victory Remembered Video Library". With so much great additional footage and emotional content that was never used in the film, I knew I needed to create a comprehensive library to serve as meaningful documentation of the entire project. I will be posting these individual chapters on Youtube which will allow everyone to select and view over 50 chapters from the entire film project, to include extended chapters, deleted scenes, and lots of great outtakes from the interviews and the FSSF Association's 70th Anniversary trip to Italy and France in 2014. The Victory Remembered Video Library will allow anyone to enjoy and share the various portions of the story that interests them most. It is perfect for educating others about the Force's history as well as getting personal insight from the vets and their family members. The best part is it will be FREE to everyone! It's my way of saying Thank You to all of you who supported this project from the beginning.
prices has been reduced on "Victory Remembered" and "FSSF Congressional Gold Medal Ceremonies" DVDs! They will make great stocking stuffers for history buffs and fans of the Black Devils! Buyers will enjoy the discounted price for the Holidays, so if you were thinking of buying one NOW is a great time! We can ship them directly to friends and family members! You can order them on the STORE page! Happy Holidays everyone, and as always, thanks for supporting our vets!
Today marks a big day for Victory Remembered. I recently negotiated a contract with Lifesize Entertainment to distribute Victory Remembered, and today is their launch day for the film on various digital platforms. Lifesize Entertaiment is a North American distributor for film and television programming and also provides programming worldwide when requested.
( http://lifesizeentertainment.com ) Their primary goal for VR is to distribute it through digital streaming outlets, such as Hulu plus, Dailymotion, Amazon Prime, Fandor and others. This means it can be seen through online streaming as well as television programming. It will be a couple of weeks before Victory Remembered will appear on their public website but I'll keep you posted on that. I'm very grateful for their enthusiastic support.
The original film was 2 hours long (I call it the Director's Cut) and was well suited for the audience it was originally intended for, YOU, and the First Special Service Force fans! However, it was necessary to create a 55 minute version to accommodate programming demands and enhance viewership, which I accomplished and am very happy with. That will be the version Lifesize will market primarily.
As I cut, gleaned and edited my way to that 55 minute target I focused on what the most relevant and precious moments were in the original film. The wonderful result is I now have an 86:30 minute version that I consider to be the definitive and most effective product from our efforts. It is better suited for screenings and presentations and carries the most emotional content home for the audience.
I will continue to reach out to organizations and groups to share the story. More screening announcements are coming very soon! I STILL feel we are just at the beginning! We're making progress and people are responding to the story. Thanks, as always for your help in making this film a reality.
As the amazing conclusion to the story of "Victory Remembered, Legacy of The Black Devils", Les
Owen has produced a DVD of the historic Congressional Gold Medal Ceremonies. February 3rd, 2015 was a day to be remembered. The United States Army Band "Pershing's Own" kicked off the day with a visit to the hotel where the veterans and their families were staying. There, they performed the premiere of "Frederick's Black Devils March" in front of members of the Force who were in attendance along with their friends, families and dignitaries. That was followed by a beautiful ceremony hosted by the Canadian Government, recognizing each individual member of the Force who made the trip to Washington. Then the U.S. Congress presented their Gold Medal to Eugene Gutierrez and Charlie Mann, who were selected to represent their comrades from both countries.
A few months later, the Gold Medal was transferred for permanent keeping at Ft. William Henry Harrison in Helena, MT. "Home of the Force". The ceremony, a special parade and the memorial service are all captured in this new video in an emotional conclusion to the story of The Black Devils. The DVD can be ordered on the Store Page of this website, or click here: http://www.victoryremembered.com/store/
Enjoy the trailer. https://vimeo.com/183845434
I returned to Ephrata yesterday to help present a cheque for $2000 to the local VFW. The money was raised at the screening of "Victory Remembered" on July 13th. Once again, blue Ridge-11 was there to help spread the word. I'm so humbled that so many people and organizations came forward to support the event. Thanks again to Kevin Carvell, the Winters Leadership Memorial, Rebecca Gallagher, the Ephrata Main theatre, Blue Ridge-11 News, "Behind The Lines" with Diane Dayton, Laurie knowles of The Ephrata Review and Ephrata VFW Post 3376 for all they do in their community!
The screening event that took place at the Main Theatre in Ephrata, PA couldn't have gone better! Kevin Carvell really knows how to organize an event and our film was the centerpiece for a benefit for the local VFW. I believe this experience points the way for such future events and continued opportunities to share the story of the Black Devils. Laurie Knowles, a writer for The Ephrata Review, attended the screening and wrote this wonderful article which was featured in the paper. We were honored to have Bert Winzer, an original member of the First Special Service Force, in attendance. He was the star of the evening. Check out the lipstick on his cheeks!
Thank so much to everyone who came. Thanks for supporting independent filmmaking and the great work of the Ephrata VFW. Thanks to everyone who helped get the word out. Thanks also to the Barry & Lisa Welsh for their jeep... the crowned jewel that greeted folks as they entered.
I have been editing a video of last year's FSSF Reunion events in Helena, MT. The 2015 Reunion was special in that the Congressional Gold Medal was brought to Ft William Henry Harrison and presented for permanent keeping. During the presentation ceremony a special mention was made of the original march, "Frederick's Black Devils", written by Sergeant Major Paul Murtha of The United States Army Band. The story was told how the march came about and that it was performed at the Gold Medal presentation on Capitol Hill. I was thrilled to have a played a part in bringing this important tribute to the Forcemen. I produced a video of The United States Army Band rehearsing the piece and it was shown at the ceremony in Helena. The FSSF even announced "we now have our official march!" What a thrill! Enjoy
On June 22, 2016 Les Owen was interviewed by Diane Dayton, host of "Behind the Lines" which shows on BRC Channel 11 in Ephrata, PA. Owen's film, "Victory Remembered, Legacy of The Black Devils", was scheduled for a benefit screening in Ephrata and was the topic of the discussion. Owen was joined by Executive Producer Kevin Carvell. You can see the entire interview on the "Interviews and Reviews" page!
As I work to promote the film I have reached out to others who have valuable public relations experience. Anyone who watches the film understands it's unique value and is eager to help. Recently one of those associates introduced me to General David Petraeus through Linkedin and told him about the film. Here is what I shared with him:
Dear General Petraeus,
It is an honor to meet you and be able to share this valuable story. The First Special Service Force, also known as The Black Devils, was the first combined U.S and Canadian military unit and were the forefathers of all Special Forces. Most people, however, have never heard of this top secret unit. They fought in Europe during WWII and were the first boots into Rome two days before D-Day. Last year they received the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of their unique and valuable service. I have spent time with these veterans and had the privilege of making this film about those brave men and their families and am committed to sharing their story with everyone I can. The message of the film goes beyond the events of their service and explores their legacy to include the villages they liberated, the families they continue to affect today and their personal struggles following the war. I hope you have a moment to watch "Victory Remembered" and perhaps join me in letting others know about these amazing soldiers and true heroes that set the standard for bravery and training that our troops aspire to today.
Master Sgt Les Owen (retired)
He responded immediately, thanking me for sending him the film and saying he would try to make time to watch. The next day he sent me a simple message. "Very, very nice, Les". He had watched the film! We at least know he has a positive first hand knowledge of the film and perhaps will mention it to others who will want to find out more. Keep spreading the word!
"Victory Remembered" has been recognized by the 2016 Northern Virginia Film Festival and included in their "Artist Circle" of film submissions. Many thanks to the festival committee for this honor as it creates opportunities for more people to find out about the Black Devils and their brave sacrifices for freedom.
The purpose of the composer interviews was to make people more aware of how valuable the music is in the film and recognize the talents of the composers. This review by Mark Earnhardt says it all. As the Director's Assistant, no one was closer to the production than him, yet until he heard the composers describe their process he didn't fully appreciate their music.
"I went on your Victory Remembered website last night... I found and watched the short videos about the music and I wanted to say I throughly enjoyed them. It was just awesome to hear what the two composers were thinking about and trying to convey when composing their music. It delivers so much more insight to the march and the production, insight that I think most folks tend to overlook. Not intentionally, but just because compositions and soundtracks are so easy for most viewers to overlook, especially when it's successful. "Hidden in plain sight" so to speak.
"I was really blown away when Adrian explained the soundtrack theme notes. Just 4 notes that define the entire soundtrack, and reappear in variations and texture throughout the doc. I remember first hearing about this years ago when watching a Star Wars making documentary, and George Lucas explaining the technique, and then rewatching the episodes with that extra insight into the music and the movie. It added so much more. I am excited to now rewatch VR and follow those 4 notes through all their complexities and variations! "
I know many of us acknowledge the importance of the musical soundtrack when we watch films. The music can make or break a story. It probably does more to create the emotional experience than any other single feature of a film. I knew Victory Remembered deserved the right music. There are so many rich and emotional stories that would find a deeper place in people's hearts if the music was right. Adrian Hernandez is a brilliant composer and served as my angel when he agreed to write the score for my film. I could never have asked for better. There is also the story of the original march, "Frederick's Black Devils", that was written by Paul Murtha for the Force in recognition of the Congressional Gold Medal . Last, but not least, is the story of the music behind my film company's logo "Treehouse Dreams Films". The music for that was written by my son, Steve Owen. Check out his very personal reflections regarding his process. These three interviews are unique stories in themselves. Watch the interviews on "The Music" page of this website.
Today is the day I officially go public with the DVD! Thanks, everyone, for your patience. The reason for the delay was because of restrictions on distribution required by certain film festivals, particularly the Sundance Film Festival.
Yes, that’s right. I submitted our little film to Sundance. Hey, why play if you’re not going to take a full swing? Sorry to say we did not get accepted. The very polite letter from the Sundance folk apologized and expressed their best wishes for the film but they had almost 13,000 submissions this year to choose from. 13,000!! A new record for them. There are only 122 feature film slots in the festival. We move on.
I have submitted the film to several other festivals around the U.S. and Canada and will continue to do so. I’ll post those festivals later. There has also been interest in private and public screenings by veterans groups, universities and private supporters. I’m happy to say that the screenings so far have met with emotional and positive reviews.
I know there is a great audience out there who will enjoy and be affected by this particularly meaningful story about the FSSF and their families. We are just at the beginning and I am very excited to share the film with everyone!
Please go to the “Store” page on this website and order your copy of the DVD today, and share the website with your friends. There are many out there who never heard of The Black Devils, but live in a world that was kept free by soldiers like these. Their story needs to be shared.
It has been a real roller coaster ride the last few weeks. With visiting Montana and getting the DVD ready to publish as well along with getting the poster and DVD case ready Les has been a very busy man.
In preparation to promote the documentary Les has created the latest trailer which is just over two minutes. You can watch the trailer below . Enjoy.