Beliefnet

With the new film “Act of Valor” — starring real-life U.S. Navy SEALs and real live-fire scenes in which the movie crew kept their heads down as live ammunition ripped overhead — movie makers Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh would like to think they’ve invented a whole new kind of movie.

“Act of Valor,” which is released this weekend, is a mixture of reality TV, live action feature and cinema’s early years in which Thomas Edison’s cameramen risked risked life and limb to capture the real world for audiences just getting hooked on “moving pictures.”

But the former actors, who have worked almost every job in front of and behind the camera, want to dispel a story going around about “Act of Valor” – that it began as a Pentagon training or recruiting film. That rumor has made some of the biggest newspapers and wire services.

Training under very real conditions

“We are laughing at the myth — and enjoying the story,” chuckles Waugh. “But it never started out like that. ‘Act of Valor’ has always

been a feature. The only thing that changed was using the real guys in the movie. But somebody published that story and everybody grabbed onto it. We just never had a chance to set the record straight."

“It started out as an exploration into what would even telling the story of the SEALS look like,” says Mike “Mouse” McCoy – whose credits include producing, directing, writing, acting and just about everything else except makeup and catering. He was a stuntman in 2004’s “Flight of the Phoenix.”

A chopper at sunset

The project began with the two exploring “How would you even go about” telling the SEALs story, says McCoy. The Navy “opened the doors to us. We got to meet the men, really connect with the culture and from there we figured out what it meant to be a SEAL — these truly incredible and heroic men, their depth of brotherhood and the sacrifices they laid down in years of deployment.

“We began to see,” says Waugh, “the only way to make this movie was to film the real guys and honor their real stories.”

Jungle deployments

“Initially we were going to make an action film with professional actors,” says Waugh. “But once we met the men, we realized that they

were incredibly talented and competent and there was so much honor in this community. We began to realize that the only way to do it was for real.”

But filming reality has its limits. For example, the Pentagon wasn’t going to let Waugh and McCoy tag along on the mission to take out Osama bin Laden — or any other real combat mission. The compromise was to allow them to, as Waugh explains it, “augment existing training evolutions.”

Desert deployments

That was real enough. SEAL training is brutal. It takes over 30 months to train a candidate to the point at which he is ready for deployment. Those who make the cut emerge ready to handle pretty much any task under fire, which includes diving, combat swimming, hostage rescue, navigation, negotiating with civilians you’re trying to rescue, improvisation under extreme stress, creative use of explosives, expertise with a wide range of weapons and jumping out of moving vehicles, boats and aircraft.

The explosions are real -- and so are the bullets

SEAL training pushes recruits beyond human limits – mentally, emotionally and physically. Having the absolutely impossible

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