Last night, I attended the Beaufort International Film Festival’s Award Ceremony. My husband Landon, a retired Marine Colonel, presented the first-ever Patrick Conroy Lifetime Achievement Award, which was awarded to Dale Dye.
Actor. Writer. Icon. Hollywood Legend.
Mr. Dye is the man who single-handedly changed not only the way military movies are made in Hollywood, but as a result, the way the world sees and understands the military experience as presented on film.
How did he do that?
According to Mr. Dye, he came home from Vietnam (where he had been a Captain in the Marine Corps) with a vision. He wanted to change the way the military was depicted in Hollywood movies. He wanted them to show the “real deal” and not the cleaned up, antiseptic version of war. He wanted movies to depict the sacrifice, the suffering, and most of all, the inextricable bond that gets created when men and women learn to rely on each other in battle.
So he headed to Hollywood.
Hung out on Hollywood lots, until he was hauled off. Couldn’t get to the producers or directors. Did he give up? Did he go and get a job? No. He simply changed his tactics.
He decided to work through the writers, who he said were more accessible. According to Mr. Dye’s colorful story, one night he entertained a Hollywood writer over dinner (and drinks!) until he convinced that writer to share Oliver Stone’s telephone number with him and wrote it down on a napkin. (I love the fact that he didn’t try to reach a lesser known director. He went to the top.)
Then what? Did he wait until he had a position paper to present to Mr. Stone? A video? A presentation? Nope.
Mr. Dye called Oliver Stone a couple of hours later, early Sunday morning, and told him what he wanted to do. He said he wanted to help filmmakers create realistic military movies. He wanted to create a kind of boot camp for the actors to simulate the same kind of training that military men and women experience, both so that they could understand the hardships and sacrifices, but also the intimate bond that occurs when relying on each other in extreme circumstances. He wanted to create a “Band of Brothers.” (Yes, he was an advisor to that film.)
Oliver Stone agreed to his proposition. He sent young actors like Johnny Depp, Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe, Tom Hanks and others to Mr. Dye for this training. It worked. As a result, we got movies like Platoon, Band of Brothers, Saving Private Ryan and countless others. He went on to work with some of the most talented directors of all time.
One man. One vision.
He changed Hollywood. And, he helped to shift the perceptions of millions of people around the world when it came to understanding war and the military experience.
He refused to stop.
He refused to give up. When he hit a dead end, he didn’t think “I failed.” He created a new strategy.
He always believed. And, he turned his vision into a reality.
Think of what he did. What does this mean to you? What lessons can you learn from his example? What can you do to bring your creative mission forward? How committed are you? How dogged are you? How convinced are you? Let Mr. Dye inspire you. He inspired me.