Paintball fans are not the only audiences who can enjoy the documentary Soldiers of Paint – “A Film About the World’s Ultimate Paintball Game.” Directors and writers Michael DeChant and Doug Gritzmacher and their crew create an intriguing, action-packed experience five years in the making.
Audiences get several personal accounts following a chronological timeline with special focus on event organizer Dewayne Convers, the grandson of a veteran of Omaha Beach. His strong feelings of history, military honor, and genuine care for the participants really shine through. Logistical challenges of the paintball event combine with the trials of hosting thousands of people from around the country and the world. Convers leads the annual meeting, which really kicks off the behind-the-scenes aspects of the events including some intriguing strategy, spying, and other tactics on both sides (Axis and Allies)
Filmmakers do a great job depicting every aspect of these events, especially personal accounts from the thousands of participants including the international participants. A German trio added some interesting perspective from an international and historical point-of-view. Audiences really understand the logistics behind the event on an individual level and can enjoy several personal accounts.
Personal story highlights include a father-son team who enhance their unique bond throughout the game with authentic feelings and World War II veteran, Jake McNiece who served in the “Filthy Thirteen”, the 101st Airborne unit that fought during D-Day and whose stories inspired the movie The Dirty Dozen.
Staged on a 700-acre battlefield, the organizers and managers always treat this competitive paintball event as a tribute to all veterans even the Axis side, by not concentrating on the political views and more on the strategy and military tactics. Colored smoke markers help the commanders in the field mark territories and accurately keep updating their status maps.
Players also have tanks as targets using specialized paintball guns, so the individual does not only have their guns and grenades to consider. Players must hit a certain area of these large targets with the anti-tank paintball guns, so personnel decisions and point scoring become extremely important in this extremely close battle.
Filmmakers use helpful color schemes, map animations and text captions throughout the main paintball event. Filmmakers usually explain overview rules early with specific rules right before they occur in the field.
As in the actual event, the event begins with Allies assaulting three beaches – Sword, Utah and Omaha. Filmmakers utilize helpful post-production visuals so audiences can easily understand movements.
On the ground, audiences can and get amazing views in the midst of the firefight and can often see paint flying across the camera lens. Filmmakers use red tint color for the Axis and blue tint for the Allies without sacrificing clarity. It would have been amazing (and logistically) challenging to get a few simultaneous shooter/target sequences (something similar to the above visual) in slow motion where viewers see instantaneous results.
Filmmakers don’t use many “helmet cam” shots, but audiences can tell the camera operators are right in the thick of the battle with some great tracking shots and handheld shots where they follow behind participants. Camera operators can easily capture the thrill and joy of the event among the thousands of participants (male and female) on both sides who are willing to share their experiences and current situation within this “D-Day” battle. Audiences get motivation, strategy (especially concerning supplies of ammo and water) and relevant background, which later factors into future events.
Filmmakers also keep audiences updated on the scores with clear graphics as the event progresses. With the initial rules explained near the beginning in different segments, which avoids information overload, audiences gradually get a complete picture of the stakes for the participants. Each area is worth a specific amount of points at specific times throughout this “battle day”, so the strategy really place a nice role here and adds extra interest.
All players on the Allies (United States, Britain, Canada, and France) and Axis (German) demonstrate respect, honor, passion, and care throughout all positions from the commanding officers to the players diving into relentless firefights. The next “D-Day” paintball event in Wyandotte, Oklahoma will be from June 9 – 14, 2014. If you cannot actually attend this event, Soldiers of Paint offers a high quality account that entertains, educates, and enthralls throughout the 97 minute running time.
Production Company Background:
Gritzmacher and DeChant founded the Double Six Productions film production company in 2004. Doug and Mike first met in graduate school at American University where they collaborated on several short films. In 2005, they completed the short documentary Bone Mixers, about a diverse group of individuals united by the game dominoes. The film screened at numerous festivals and won four awards.
Buoyed by the success of that film, they focused their attention on a feature-length documentary project. In 2007, they came across “Oklahoma D-Day“, the largest paintball game in the world. After meeting the tight-knit community of people who play and even embedding themselves in that year’s battle with a camera, they were sold on making a film about the event.
The distributor, First Run Features, was founded in 1979 and released in Soldiers of Paint in May 2013. Filmmakers receive the largest percentage of the purchase price if you purchase the DVD from the distributor First Run Features. Soldiers of Paint will also debut on Netflix in October 2013.
Type of DVD: Documentary
Developer: Double Six Productions / First Run Features
- Director’s commentary by Doug and Mike (the directors)
- Eight deleted scenes totaling 25 minutes of additional footage featuring World War II veteran Jake McNiece.
- Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound audio option.
- Extra D-Day event paintball battle footage
- Other D-Day weeks events like the officers party and D-Day parade
- Promo for Oklahoma D-Day Adventure Park
Overall presentation: An all-around snapshot of a paintball event with great themes of military history, the paintball sport, and behind-the-scenes strategy, event planning, and strong background/personal side-stories.
Recommendation: Three out of four stars (solid recommendation)
Price: Varies in ranges between approximately $17 and $25 to own the video and $2.99 to $3.99 to stream or rent
Source: Reviewer copy from publisher