War Tapes, The (2006): Deborah Scranton’s Docu of Iraq War, Filmed by Soldiers Themselves

Deborah Scranton’s The War Tapes is the first documentary of the 2003 invasion of Iraq to be produced by the soldiers themselves.

The film follows three New Hampshire Army National Guard soldiers before, during, and after their deployment to Iraq, about a year after the invasion.

Their unit was Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry Regiment (Mountain), which deployed from March 2004 to February 2005.

The three soldiers equipped with cameras are SPC Michael Moriarty who signed up in a burst of patriotism after 9/11 and asked to be shipped to Iraq; SGT Stephen Pink, who joined the National Guard to help pay for college, and SGT Zack Bazzi.

Two other soldiers, SGT Duncan Domey and SPC Brandon Wilkins, also shot their entire deployments.

In all, 17 soldiers were given cameras and recorded 800 hours of tape in Iraq. Stateside interviews with the soldiers and their families made up an additional 200 hours of tape.

The “cast” was narrowed to three soldiers for the final feature, chosen because they were seen by the director as the “main characters”.

The film won the prize for Best International Documentary at the 2006 Tribeca Film Fest and also Best International Documentary at BRITDOC.

The reporter did not go to Iraq, but provided cameras to the soldiers, and offered direction on filming via instant messaging and email.