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home in St. Louis, where the episode takes
place. Her fierce, mama-bear spirit is a big
part of it. Her voiceover narrative drives the
sequence showing Dennis successfully
showering. “You could see the pain in
Dennis’ face because he was so demoral-
ized,” she relates. “His mom has to do this
for him. He hated it, and I hated it for him.”
Najar herself has been involved with
troop support since the Vietnam War. She
runs her own nonprofit, A Soldier’s Wish
List, and knows this community. She has
nothing but the highest praise for WWP.
Once the Flow crew arrived and set up
shop, her fears were allayed. “They spent
the week here and were so good to Dennis,”
she insists. “They even went to the birthday
party,” she says referring to Cabanting’s
Hawaiian-themed 40th fête shot for the epi-
sode. “I adopted them.”
The subjects and their stories are cer-
tainly the ground force of the series. But the
unsung hero of the show is the original
score created for each episode. Flow co-
founder and President David Rice, among
many other things, oversees all music,
acquired and scored. On the day I visited
the Flow compound, score composer Billy
West was busy working on the soundtrack
of the current episode in the studio behind
Rice’s house. The studio served as the first
workspace for the burgeoning branded film
firm. Rice came to the project with a full
résumé (Nineties Houston songsmith,
major-label recording artist, television/com-
mercial composer, and music supervisor for
Modigliani’s
Crawford –
the 2008 doc about
George W. Bush’s transplanted hometown).
While the core of Flow remains small, a
cadre of established (mostly local) partners
in color correction, sound design, audio
mix, motion graphics, freelance editors, and
musicians – such as Tosca Strings, Ephraim
Owens, and Ramy Antoun – round out the
mix. The company has grown enough in
scope and logistics to require an office
across three different lots, located on the
same street as Rice’s home.
Rice feels this current project reflects
where Flow is at in its growth. “We feel like
we’ve been given the resources to make,
honestly, the best work we’ve been able to
do, to date.”
Dennis Cabanting, all big brown eyes and
goofy grin, directly addresses the camera
more than once during the show. It’s clear
what the filmmakers saw in him and why
they chose to ask WWP to include his story.
The combat engineer-turned-truck driver
whose life was obliterated by an IED attack
in Iraq had to come home to rebuild, land-
locked in St. Louis.
In the episode’s first few scenes, he’s
immersed. “I love the water. It feels like
home,” he says. As the camera peels
through a perfect swell (shot who knows
where – not St. Louis, that’s for sure), he
pines: “When I dream about surfing, it’s
like heaven. I dream of taking the bottom
turn, pulling into a tube, shooting it, and
coming out clean. Every time. But it’s just
a dream.”
In witnessing – through the lens of a few
Austin filmmakers – how far this ol’ surfing
soldier comes, just in the course of one epi-
sode, it’s easy to hope, to imagine, to believe
on his behalf, that maybe it’s not just a
dream after all.
n
Wounded: The Battle Back Home
next airs
on MSNBC’s
Taking the Hill
, Sunday, July 27,
with online teasers released Thu.-Sun., July
24-27, at
www.msnbc.com
.
a u s t
i n c h r o n
i c
l e
. c om
JULY 25, 2014
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