Why the Military Helps Hollywood Make Movies

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Left of Boom Episode 9: Why the Military Helps Out Hollywood (Ft. Glen Roberts)
Left of Boom Episode 9: Why the Military Helps Out Hollywood (Ft. Glen Roberts)

Ever wondered how big blockbuster movie productions are able to feature real tanks and fighter aircraft -- or, in the case of the upcoming Top Gun: Maverick, actors actually launching off an aircraft carrier? Turns out the U.S. military gives many movies a major helping hand, from providing access to bases and ships to actually recruiting troops to serve as background actors. But first, scripts have to get vetted to make sure they're in line with the DoD's core values. In this episode, we'll talk to Glen Roberts, the Pentagon's liaison to Hollywood, who reads those scripts and works with studios to make military-themed productions as realistic as possible.

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Mentioned in this episode:

Top Gun

Captain Marvel

Hollywood and the Military

Filming Top Gun: Maverick

Aircraft Carriers

Forrest Gump

The following is an edited transcript of this episode of Left of Boom:

Hope Hodge Seck 0:01

Welcome back to Left of Boom. I'm Hope Hodge Seck, managing editor at Military.com. For me, this podcast is a chance to explore in more depth some of the most interesting people and ideas inside the military community. But today, we're doing a different variation on this theme, and talking to the man who holds one of the most interesting jobs inside the Pentagon. You may have wondered how Hollywood blockbusters can feature scenes of actors launching off an aircraft carrier, or driving around a military base in tanks. And the answer is the Defense Department's Entertainment Media Division, which vets scripts and can provide project support ranging from base access to equipment to uniform background actors -- assets that might be prohibitively expensive or impossible for studios to source on their own. The first step for all these scripted projects is Glen Roberts, DoD's branch chief for Entertainment Media, and I've been dying to pick his brain about how he decides which projects to recommend for support and just why the US military uses its resources to help out Hollywood. Glen Roberts, welcome to the show.

Glen Roberts 1:04

Thank you very much. It's great to be here, Hope.

Hope Hodge Seck 1:06

You are the Defense Department branch chief for Entertainment Media, a job that I've kind of thought of in shorthand as the Pentagon Hollywood liaison. And I know you got there pretty recently. When did you start at the job?

Glen Roberts 1:18

So I started on the sixth of July. So I've been here just about six weeks now.

Hope Hodge Seck 1:22

Oh, fantastic. Well, I'll try to go a little bit easier on you.

Glen Roberts 1:25

Thanks.

Hope Hodge Seck 1:26

So tell me what exactly do you do in that job? And why does that position exist?

Glen Roberts 1:31

So our mission, you know, our formal explanation is that we inform and educate the public, both the domestic and the foreign public, on the roles and missions of the Department of Defense. That's why we exist, really, to make sure that Americans know that their taxpayer dollars are being used in good stewardship. But if you put it another way, really our job is to project and protect the credibility and image of the Department of Defense in the entertainment space. And for us, the entertainment space is vast and includes movies, TV shows, documentaries, videos, games, live events and even a bit of social media.

Hope Hodge Seck 2:04

So you're an Air Force veteran, I looked you up, and you've held a number of jobs within the Defense Department and around the defense community. I saw that at one point you were a senior military advisor at the State Department and comms director at Pratt and Whitney. But you've also served as the head entertainment liaison for the Air Force. So was there something about the entertainment aspect of the job that appealed to you in particular? Are you a big movie buff? Or is this just kind of how things shook out for you?

Glen Roberts 2:33

You know, this is a great opportunity to see a different side of entertainment. I loved my job. It was my last job on active duty, out in LA as the director of the Air Force Entertainment Liaison Office, it was a great job. It was a lot of fun. I had a lot of great coworkers and colleagues from the various services and no two days are ever the same. So it was kind of a fun thing. It wasn't so much a movie thing, because it goes to be honest, quite far beyond movies, but it was really just a fun opportunity in a very unique role. And I never in a million years thought when I left, that there'd be an opportunity to come back in a different capacity. I really thought it was a great four years, something fun to do. And I enjoyed coming to work every day. And then when I saw this job come open, this job was held by my two successors. Phil Strub had this for over 30 years, three decades-plus, and he's a legend, he left very, very big shoes to fill. And Dave Evans did a fantastic job coming in after Phil and cracking the code on working with many different studios and kind of bringing us up to date on social media and kind of the new venues for for entertainment media. So I've got some pretty big shoes to fill there. And I'm just really excited about the people that are still working in the entertainment offices, the Army, the Navy, the Marines, and our Coast Guard friends, as well as my old Air Force office. It's fun to reconnect with those folks and be able to see the great work that they're doing.

Hope Hodge Seck 3:57

So what does your day to day look like? I'm aware that you just got started in your role, but how it is your sort of time break down.

Glen Roberts 4:05

You know, with COVID, it's a very unique time right now in the industry, not just for me, but for the folks in the entertainment industry writ large, whether it's movies or TV, or you know, clearly live events, there's just not a lot of production going on. So it's a bit quiet. And that was kind of a great opportunity for me to come in. There are no two days alike, which is another good news and that's kind of one of the things that draws me to this job. But I would say that on a given day, we are reading scripts, the one thing that's still going on in Hollywood is writing. They're furiously writing and we're trying to stay top of mind with writers in Hollywood for both television and movies. And also, you know, our unscripted documentaries as well. My documentary colleague, Christine Thompson, has been in the office for a couple years. She's fantastic and she has done an immense amount of work I do about probably 15 to 20 scripted movies or television shows a year. On a slow year for Christine, she does 115 to 120 production assistance agreements for documentaries, or unscripted things. So we are very, very busy in the documentary realm. So Christine's busy doing that stuff. Well, I'm kind of reading scripts and reaching out to studios and you know how it is in the first six weeks, letting people know that there's been a change, reconnecting with studios, with producers, with directors, with the guilds, with video game companies. So you name it. It's been a fun gamut of meeting people, reintroducing ourselves and kind of plotting the way forward.

Hope Hodge Seck 5:32

If I'm a movie or a TV show producer, and I want access to a base or get other DoD support on a project, I understand that can run the range from using equipment to having people appear in shots to a number of other things. What is that process? How do I request support? And how is that request then evaluated?

Glen Roberts 5:52

That's a great question. And there's a typical fighter pilot answer, right? There's more than one, you know, it depends. So there are plenty of ways, if you look at the individual services, each service has their own website, you can go to that website, if you know specifically, you want to work with that service. And you can click on a link and find a very, very simple form to fill out. You know, for the Air Force, I know we made it as simple as we could back in the day, it was one form, you can fill it out, send it to us. And that's all you have to do. It doesn't have to be anything more than that. And then that will get a phone call from our office to start the vetting process to see what we can do to work with you. I will tell you, there are some things that are pretty important. You have to have funding and distribution, as I was talking about with Christine's documentary and the load of work there. That's an easy discriminator early on to determine how far we're going to be able to get to help you and to assist you in your production wishes. There's a lot of folks that want to come shoot the movie, but they don't have funding, or they don't have distribution. And so for us that's a big lift, it's a heavy lift to go ahead and do those kind of things. So we need to make sure that we're good stewards of the taxpayers money and their resources. And we only utilize those resources and make them available for things that are really going to be seen in the public eye. So we look at your distribution, How wide is it? Is it a major studio? Or is it somebody that's going to take it to a film festival and try and sell it with fingers crossed? That's probably less likely to gain our support.

Hope Hodge Seck 7:21

Okay, so funding and distribution is a big part. What else? When you're reading these scripts and going through the vetting process? What are the things that are red flags where you say, OK, we can't support this, or what are you looking at when you're evaluating projects that you can support?

Glen Roberts 7:36

That's a great question. Thanks for asking it. It's some of the things we look for are really our core values, right? Does this project uphold the core values and show the core values of the Department of Defense and the men and women that work in the individual services? Both military, civilian, officer, enlisted, active, Guard, Reserve across the entire spectrum of defense? Does this script uphold the core values that we have as an organization, that are system-wide. So that's another very easy discriminator. It doesn't mean that there can't be a bad person, a villain per se, who is in uniform, as long as it actually upholds the integrity of the men and women in uniform and the ability to do their job. Also, we don't really want to be portrayed as incompetent technicians. Because you're not going to find an incompetent technician in the military. I mean, really, you're weeded out pretty fast, if you're not able to do your job. And so for us, we're looking for professionalism. Humor is good, we laugh at ourselves, we're happy to laugh at ourselves. Like I said, it's not unheard-of to have a bad guy or bad gal, so to speak in a you know, in a villain's role. As long as in the end we're upholding those core values. It's kind of really what we look for.

Hope Hodge Seck 8:51

Are you sort of the the one-man clearinghouse to make those decisions or do you ever call people in for a second opinion?

Glen Roberts 8:57

Oh, no, no, I'm so I'm never the one man. It's never a one-person show. So here at the Department of Defense we have the ability to approve the services doing any of their production assistance is, but we don't have the tasking authority. So I can't tell, hey, Air Force. go do this, or Hey, Navy. go do this. The services are very independent in a way that they can do that we help we give permission in the way of a production assistance agreement, or PAA. And that is usually pushed up from the services, they determine, you know, if they're interested in doing this, and we'll go through together, but it is seen by a number of eyes, I would say probably no less than seven or eight sets of eyes. Look at this and determine Is this something that we want to do? And is it a doable ask, how much, how heavy is the lift going to be for the services and the units that are involved? You know, that's a really driving factor, our operations, tempo and our personnel tempo, depending on what we can and can't give. And we also have classification issues that we're concerned about, but I would tell you in the four things I look for are security, accuracy, policy and propriety, right, those four things? Is it proper? Is it the right way that we want to represent ourselves in the public eye?

Hope Hodge Seck 10:08

So historically, yeah, for projects that do kind of get the green light, yes we'll support, we'll participate -- what is the high end of support resources that the DVD can provide or has provided in the past?

Glen Roberts 10:21

Well, that's another great question. I'll tell you a couple good examples. If we're talking scripted movies, Top Gun: Maverick, my colleagues at the Navy, I'm jealous that I wasn't in -- I missed all that when they did all that great work but that was two-plus years of heavy work that the Navy did with Paramount to get access for, not just Tom Cruise but the entire cast, on to naval bases onto aircraft carriers, into fighter jets. You can imagine the heavy lift that that is to get you know, they were using IMAX-quality cameras, six mounts inside of a jet inside of an F-18. There's a lot there and so our Navy folks did a fantastic job working that. And that was a very, very heavy amount of logistics that was involved. Conversely, for the Air Force, or actually, in addition to that, the Air Force did a great job on Captain Marvel.

Hope Hodge Seck 11:10

Oh, yeah.

Glen Roberts 11:11

Which you saw recently. And we're very proud of the depiction that Brie [Larsen] put into Carol Danvers, who is the fictional Air Force fighter pilot. We're proud of the portrayal that she did, we were happy to work with Marvel and Disney, just fantastic companies that have been great production partners with us, just as Paramount has. And so a lot of heavy logistics. They say that great, good generals, talk about tactics but great generals talk about logistics. I would say that's very true in the movie industry as well.

Hope Hodge Seck 11:38

Well, my audience is particularly interested in Top Gun: Maverick. Anytime we do a story, everyone is so excited for this movie to come out. And I know the first Top Gun was a real sort of triumph of collaboration, but were there any new trails blazed in supporting that sequel in particular that has just been in production?

Glen Roberts 11:57

You know, to quote that movie, we could tell you about it, but we'd have to kill you. You know, I'll leave that to Paramount. It looks like it's been pushed back to July 2 of next year, the opening. So we're very excited about that -- we're disappointed that, you know, it wasn't able to come out due to COVID. But we're excited. I think it was the right move. We're all in agreement that pushing it back into July is the right choice because that is a movie that begs to be seen on the big screen. And so and I love it because it's it's authentic, right? It is, it shot in such a way that you can't imagine doing that on a green screen. It's not something that you can use CGI for and have that same effect. So we're excited. The cast was phenomenal in the back of the jets. And I think you'll see that realism and that it just begs to be seen on a big screen. So I think it's the right move to push that back to July.

Hope Hodge Seck 12:46

Well, I have to ask just one more Top Gun Maverick question. I mean, you've got cameos from the F-35, which I know as a reporter who's covered the Joint Strike Fighter, they're very particular about how you can shoot it and you know what you can and can't reveal on this very highly networked fighter. And you've also got what looks like some Lockheed Skunkworks platform in the preview there. So when you talk about classification, how do you work around those particular challenges when you've got those cutting-edge platforms on the screen?

Glen Roberts 13:16

Well, you know, the bulk of the movie is really about the F/A-18. So there's of course other airframes in there that you've seen in the trailer. And I don't want to say too much more. I think I'll punt that to our friends at Paramount and let them discuss because I don't want to give anything away and spoil a great movie for you.

Hope Hodge Seck 13:31

We'll be right back.

Amy Bushatz 13:34

Hey, Left of Boom fans, this is Amy Bushatz, executive editor of Military.com. If you're looking to keep up with all the news and information you need to make your military or veteran life successful, we've got the perfect resource. Military.com is packed with need-to-know intel on everything U.S. military, from pay and benefit calculators to the latest from your military service, to deep dives into Pentagon policy, Military.com's reporters and editors are on top of it. Find more at Military.com. Now, back to Left of Boom.

Hope Hodge Seck 14:13

Let's back up to the predecessor and I know this must be a little bit difficult as an Air Force veteran with all these questions about this panegyric to naval aviation. But the first Top Gun sparked a lot of rumors. Basically, it was reported that the Navy set up recruiting tables outside movie theaters where Top Gun was playing, because it was such a hit and sort of this triumph of collaboration. Some say naval recruiting actually increased that year because of interest in the movie. Can you speak to that at all? Is that a true story? Or is that just a rumor?

Glen Roberts 14:43

Well, let me kill one rumor right away. And the rumor that week that I heard in the Air Force all the time from people in Hollywood was well, we heard the Top Gun was initially supposed to be an Air Force movie. I'll tell you that's absolutely not true. And I think Russ Coons, who is a retired naval captain who runs the Navy office, he would back me up here 100% and say that's absolutely not true. It's always been a Navy movie, always supposed to be a Navy movie, so good on the Navy for doing that. I can't speak to what they did back in 1986 when it came out. I know I saw it in the theaters. I was 17 years old, and I joined the Air Force, I enlisted in the Air Force as a aircraft maintainer not long after I saw that movie. No, so take from that what you will, I don't know, directly that it was that it had an impact on me. But I could just tell you that I think clearly it's in the zeitgeist of you know, is that a word, zeitgeist? It's in the Zeitgeist of American pop culture now, and it's kind of taken on its own thing, and it's a shame it's taken 34 years for a sequel, but maybe that's a great thing. And it's time for a new generation to see it. I think everyone's excited for it. I can't wait to see it. And I think clearly everything that I've heard over the years from my Navy colleagues and counterparts is that it certainly did a lot to increase the visibility of the Navy and kind of capture the imagination of naval aviation and young people that get them interested in naval aviation.

Hope Hodge Seck 16:02

So be remiss if I didn't about a few projects that historically the DoD has said we prefer not to collaborate on these. And so I've heard that that list includes Forrest Gump and the Avengers franchise -- that they wanted military support access, but the scripts didn't pass muster. Again, I know these projects predate you by quite a bit, but are you able to talk through that and why those particular decisions were made?

Glen Roberts 16:26

So I don't know about Forrest Gump. I've heard that also. But I don't know specifically what happened with Forrest Gump. I can tell you, you know, Disney and Marvel have been fantastic partners, and they, they work with us to help us, you know, in the script, we were strong partners with them on Ironman 1 and Ironman 2, you've seen the part that partnership has grown with Captain Marvel, I think briefly, you know, we were looking at Captain America, the Winter Soldier back, you know, in 2013 or so. Some of those scenes were shot in Washington, D.C., but typically, I think I can't speak to exactly what it was in the scripts that didn't work out for the Department of Defense. But I can tell you that moving forward, I think you can expect a robust, you know, we're very excited to work with Marvel, we have a couple of projects that Marvel will, will talk about, and Disney will speak on later on. But we're already at work and we some of the things we've actually completed, that we're awaiting to see the final product. So just excited to work with Marvel and Disney and look forward to continuing that partnership.

Hope Hodge Seck 17:30

Well, that's a cliffhanger.

Glen Roberts 17:34

You know what happens, you can't speak outside the lines with Marvel or Disney. So we're very respectful of all of our partners, because they trust you with whether we can work with them or not. credibility is our currency in the movie business. And so if we can't be trusted to read a script, then really no one's going to want to work with us. It's going to be a very short career for all of us. So really, we have to be able to read the script vetted and even in the instances where we can't make it work, give it back without comments just to respect the process and respect the filmmakers. It's also important to say that we're not trying to change anybody's film. We love to work with the film writers, we've actually sat down in writers' rooms with, you know, screenwriters and production teams to help strengthen and add credibility to their stories. But typically, you're not going to see us suggesting stories, you're not going to see us trying to bend a story a certain way. We're happy to answer questions. We're happy to, like I said, add credibility. But typically, you will not see us -- our job is not to go out and sell a mission set or sell a story or tell producers, directors, even casting leads, how to do their job, we really leave that to them. And we are just here as a partner to help make their show better.

Hope Hodge Seck 18:46

Along those same lines. Is there an appeals process, or have you ever had in this office folks who were turned down once who said OK, on our own initiative, we want to go back and and rewrite and try again and see if we can make this work.

Glen Roberts 19:00

So the beauty of that is we work with a lot of folks multiple times. If you look at it, there's some some folks just like to work with us a lot. And we tend to work with those people more and more. For instance, if you look at television, we have had a robust relationship with NCIS, NCIS New Orleans, Hawaii 5-0, which has completed its run, Magnum PI. So CBS knows they understand us going back to JAG and Donald Bellisario's TV shows, they understand kind of how to work with the Department of Defense. Conversely, on the on the movie side, you have folks like Ian Bryce, who's a producer who has worked with us on multiple platforms and shows, the Transformers movie franchise, for example. And they understand how to work with us because they've done it multiple times. In those instances, of course, it's not really an appeals process per se. They kind of learn as we go kind of what the Department of Defense is willing to say yes to and what we're not, what are kind of what's the third rail and what are the red flags that we would look for. Some of the folks, I would tell you some of the things that we do that we turn down, we're just not able to support, flat out. There are some things that we've seen that there's almost no way that they're going to be able to 00 it's so integral to their story, but it is so not falling in our core values that we're not able to support, regardless. And we'll make that pretty clear early on in the production. It's always respectful. It's always good. And we always have the door open for folks to come back. And then lastly, I would say, people do come back. It's not really a formal appeals process. But we work with writers, particular writers, but everybody, like I said, will say, Hey, as this stands, we can't work on this project. But let me tell you, here are some of the red flags that we have. And here's why we'd like to give it back to you maybe think about it come back to us if you're interested. And sometimes they'll come back and they'll say, Well, what about this or what about that? So it is definitely a collaborative effort. And we like that collaboration with industry very much.

Hope Hodge Seck 20:54

When people come and they say we want active-duty troops as extras. Are you able to say yes to that? And what does that process look like if that's something that they want?

Glen Roberts 21:04

And there's different processes. So thanks for that great question. For background actors -- yes, we robustly cast members of the military into roles in movies and television as often as we can. That adds to the credibility and the realism that goes on. There are some requirements, those folks that are there are getting paid by the production company. So they must be on leave. They have to have permission from their commander, we vet them to make sure that they're good representatives of the Department of Defense that there's no impending discipline problems or any other issues, but generally speaking, we strive to have them look like you know, reflect the ranks of the active-duty military. So we strive for the diversity aspect. You know, we want to show the wide diversity of folks that are in the Department of Defense. We want to show the wide range of jobs that are available. We want to show you know all of the best things about being a member of the military and the way the process works is very simple. They have to volunteer, we'll usually put out a call the day before, not generally longer than one or two days before. And it's usually very early start, it's a 4 or 5 a.m. show time and the producers will come by a lot of times and we'll ask them, you know, they'll, a lot of times they get put into different uniforms with different names on them. And there's a lot of legal reasons for that, but often you'll see a different name on their name tape. We cast them, it's very simple. I've seen producers come by with a line of 20 different tr00ps and say, I'd like him, him her, her and him those five out of 20 come, and they'll put them over here. I'll put 10 more over there. And before you know it, I mean you have a very credible-looking scene because it is these are the actual Airmen that know the jobs and that are doing the work. And it's great for us to show off. There's no better actor than an actual, you know, soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, Coast Guardsmen that is out there doing their job on a day-to-day basis.

Hope Hodge Seck 22:55

Well, what a fun day's work. Kind of transitioning, I wanted to talk about some of the more sort of proactive engagement focused parts of your job. You mentioned that you don't pitch narratives necessarily, but how do you help kind of communicate what the military is and what it does and and sort of how to portray the military before people approach you with a script or a particular ask?

Glen Roberts 23:17

That's the fun part. So this is the project part of project and protect, right. And to me, that's much more fun. The project is much more fun than the protect part. But I will tell you that the services do a great job at this all for the branches, plus our coast guard colleagues and the Department of Homeland Security. They all do a great job -- and soon to be our Space Force. For instance, the Navy does a program called Hollywood to the Navy, where on weekends, they'll take reporters or civic leaders or people in the entertainment industry, whether they're writers or producers, directors, actors, location managers, and drive them down to San Diego and show them around destroyer or a sub or an aircraft carrier. And that's pretty impressive to do. Take him out, see some, some aircraft, show them Special Forces that are, you know, down operating down in that area. And it's just a great way to get the imagination flowing. Also, we will do things like on the Air Force, we did what we call an industry leader tour, where similar we filled the C-17 at Edwards Air Force Base with about 40 different people, 40 to 50. And those are writers, producers, directors, we flew them up to Alaska. We put them through Cool School, the Arctic survival training school, we made them eat squirrels and fish, fresh cod fish from you know, Alaska right there. They had to endure sub-zero temperatures just for a few minutes just to get an idea to get a taste of what the military folks are going through. They got to see F-22 fighters, they got to see the Air National Guard, combat search and rescue folks in action. So it's really an immersive experience. And it's a great it's fun for us to show off. It's fun for them to see and it's fun for them to meet each other and mingle with each other, make those connections in the industry as well. So it's really, I keep in touch with all the various folks over the years, even after I got out, who are just continue to rave about those kinds of experiences. The Army does a fantastic thing. They went to Fort Irwin last year, and took a bunch of folks up there. So all of the services tend to do their own way of doing that. And then here at the Department of Defense, my colleague, Christine Thompson, and I will kind of reach out I spend a lot of time talking to the studios, I spend time talking with the guilds. And in fact, I just reached out to the Writers Guild last week, to kind of see hey, what would you guys be interested in in a time of COVID? When there's not a lot of production going on? What can we do to help you guys continue to do your writing with authenticity towards the military, and they asked for some folks on a chat room actually said, it'd be great if you could put together a panel that taught us military jargon, jargon and lingo we want to know you guys have a funny way of speaking You use a lot of acronyms. You use a lot of funny terms, can we have three or four people sit down and do two hours of just, you know, teaching us military lingo and what it means and how you guys talk the way you talk. And I said, that would actually be good for us. Because with the five different services we have, we have vastly different lingo amongst ourselves. So it's a learning experience for everybody when we have it, but really, it's just a fun way to to keep in touch with with screenwriters and folks that are interested. So we're looking at setting that up. We also attend things like ComicCon. We attend South by Southwest, we do panels, we do panels at the locations managers' guild, we do a lot of different panels that are produced by a conference that they have, The Contenders is an event that is held in LA every year, around awards time, so we attend these events, often wearing uniforms, and that sparks interest and conversation. We always get the UFO question, people think when we're at ComicCon when we're in uniform. People think that we're doing cosplay, we're not really military members. And then when they find out you are a military member, they all want to know where the UFOs are and where the alien autopsy is, and I'm sorry, Hope, I can't tell you that.

Hope Hodge Seck 27:11

Well, there's a new DoD task force that was formed for exactly this. So truth is stranger than fiction. On the same topic, I was talking with some people in the last year from the National Commission for Military National and Public Service that recently completed a report for Congress. And one of the things that they raised was the importance of communicating to the public the diversity of military roles. So not everyone in the military is a grunt or a fighter pilot, no matter what you might see in the movies, and I'm aware of things like the DoD's Know Your Mil campaign, which at least internally kind of seeks to communicate that same thing. So is that one of your priorities? I mean, is that something that you seek to communicate, expanding sort of the portrayal of military roles and positions that serve the country in the national defense?

Glen Roberts 27:59

There is such a huge amount of different jobs. And again, this goes back to lingo, right in the Air Force, we call it the Air Force specialty codes or AFCS. In the Army, it's called the MOS, the military occupational system. So there's a lot of different ways, but there's so many jobs out there, and we want to represent all of them. That's what we love about it. And really, that's what's exciting to me about the Department of Defense job as opposed to the Air Force job, which I also loved. But it's it's getting to see this incredible breadth and depth of experience in the military. And to people who have 30-year careers in the military can have such an incredibly different experience. Because you're literally in every single, air space, cyberspace, land, sea, it doesn't matter. There's something going on everywhere. And it's, you're in the Arctic, you're in the desert, you're in the jungle, and the various jobs that you're doing are just so widespread. It's hard to fathom and to get an actual count. I know just for instance, in the Air Force, I think about 250 different AFCS across the active officer and enlisted ranks, it's 250 different jobs you can have just inside the Air Force alone. And every one of them is interesting in its own way. And it's really fun when you can mix them together and kind of see exactly how this is happening. And then take a look at the Navy. The Navy, as we just talked about, they have folks that are on surface ships, they have folks in submarines, they have folks on aircraft carriers or in aircraft or who are special operators, or folks that are, you know, not out in the fleet, but are, you know, back at the headquarters. I mean, all of these are, you know, our intelligence operations, Space Operations. It's just such a wide variety, Hope, we can talk all day about it, but it's so much. It's such a rich area for storytelling and for creative minds and innovative minds to tell stories and that's what we're here to help. We are open for business to help screenwriters and producers and directors tell those stories, the protect part is saying no to the hard things. But generally speaking, all of the services are do a great job of being open and actively seeking to help filmmakers at all levels tell their story.

Hope Hodge Seck 30:14

So you've been at pains several times to communicate that creators retain their independence, you're not out to kind of squelch any narratives or say, Rewrite your story. It's mainly a Yes or No function, like, Yes, we can support, Yes, we can help, No, this doesn't really serve our interests, so we're not going to be a part of this. But I know, you know, you still get sort of the criticisms that this is sort of a propaganda arm of the U.S. military, for lack of better words. So I thought I'd be remiss if I didn't bring up that criticism and just let you kind of address it as fully as you wish to. I mean, how do you see that role? I guess, just how would you respond to that criticism?

Glen Roberts 30:53

I would say that the thing that differentiates us from you know, the word that I think was used was propaganda, is that you know, propaganda generally is not truthful or accurate. I would say that here we strive only to tell the truth and accuracy. And that's what we offer to filmmakers. And they know that I think that's why filmmakers come back and utilize us over and over, because they know that they're going to get credible and truthful, authentic information that will help add that authenticity and credibility to their end product. I don't really feel like it's propaganda in any way, shape, or form, because they're coming to us and asking the questions, we're giving them honest answers. And in the end, it makes their product better and gives it that extra amount of credibility and truthfulness. Even if it's, you know, a fictional story clearly, Iron Man doesn't exist, but we're happy to help make that you know roadies time in the Air Force as authentic as we possibly can and kind of what would happen if Ironman did exist? How would this work with us? How would that fit into the Department of Defense as realistically as it could? And so we strive for that authenticity, whether it's a true story And sometimes to be honest with you the true stories are the best ones. There's so many great stories that are happening. And we have some coming up. I wish I could tell you about that. And also many more that we've already done that you've already seen that point to the heroism and the great things that the men and women of the Armed Forces do. on a day to day basis, the best stories are the true ones. And that that's not propaganda.

Hope Hodge Seck 32:22

Well said, Well, that's a great note to end on. I do have a final question as we wrap things up. You mentioned Space Force in passing as they kind of stand up their operation. So there's this Netflix show that came out and I just was kind of curious, did they come to you guys at all and look for help? I know that there's been some challenges with even disambiguation there since they are feuding with the real one on Twitter and all that. But I was curious if they tried to collaborate at all.

Glen Roberts 32:49

Is General Naird based on anybody? No. I thought it was a it was a funny show. I watched it myself. To my knowledge. They didn't come to us directly, but certainly they had consultants who have worked in the Department of Defense and inside, you know, Space Operations. And so several things they got were true and accurate. But clearly it's funny. And you know, and we'd like to poke fun at ourselves. But we have a limit. We want to, like I said, accurately portray our men and women in uniform that didn't entirely accurately portray our men and women. It's a good parody. Certainly, it's funny. You know, I love Steve Carell myself, I think that he's a very funny guy. But I don't think that was an accurate, incredible portrayal of the Department of Defense or the space force. So I think, and they probably knew that coming in, so that's why I think we didn't get a call.

Hope Hodge Seck 33:37

Well, thank you so much for your time today. This is a very fun conversation, and I learned a lot. I really appreciate your insights.

Glen Roberts 33:44

Thanks, Hope. Thanks so much. Come back anytime.

Hope Hodge Seck 33:52

Thanks again for listening to Left of Boom. Will you be watching Top Gun Maverick? Do you know of a unique military-related job that we should feature in a future episode? You know what to do. Send me an email at podcast@military.com we have some really fascinating interviews lined up that I promise you will not want to miss. So make sure you're subscribed to the podcast on Apple, Stitcher or wherever you get your shows. Your ratings and reviews help other people find the show. So please take the time to do that. And don't forget that you can subscribe to our brand new entertainment newsletter, At Ease, for free if you want to learn more about military-related film and TV projects, and much much more. That, and all the news and information you need about the military community, is available every day at Military.com.

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