Understanding sacrifice: Seymour native, veteran contributes to film


A Seymour native is using his experiences as a U.S. Marine and his interest in writing to change how Hollywood portrays veterans.

Andrew “Andy” Dorsett, 37, now lives in Los Angeles, California, and hopes his contributions and work on the short film “Tango Down” will lead to a better and more realistic understanding of what veterans go through while fighting overseas and after they come back home.

“Hollywood is failing in that,” Dorsett said. “They sacrifice authenticity for drama or they overdo the comedy bit, but they never really capture what it’s really like.”

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He also hopes audiences will realize there’s more of a discussion to be had with veterans than just saying “thank you for your service.”

Dorsett sees “Tango Down,” a 35- to 45-minute film, as a way to bridge the communication gap between the veteran community, active duty servicemen and women and civilians.

After graduating from Seymour High School in 1998, Dorsett joined the U.S. Marine Corps. He devoted 12 years to serving and protecting the country he loves, doing tours in Iraq.

He left the service in 2010, came home and had a successful job in the corporate business world. But things caught up with him, and buried memories came back.

“I was in a dark place for a couple of years,” he said.

But the support of family, friends and loved ones pulled him out of that place, got him focused and woke him up, giving him the push he needed.

Dorsett is the co-writer and an associate producer for “Tango Down.” Merari Ramos of Columbus served as a makeup artist and had a small role in the film, too.

“I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I’d never done anything real with it like this,” he said.

The opportunity to get involved in the project was the result of a contact he had made years ago. A Marine he had served with reached out to him on social media after reading one of Dorsett’s posts.

“We hadn’t talked for years,” Dorsett said. “I had written one of my rambling posts, and she kind of liked it.”

It wasn’t long after that the woman, her film producer partner, Micah Haughey, and friend and former Marine Rick Swift, a writer/film critic, were asking Dorsett to jump on board with their creative project.

“They contacted me out of nowhere and said they had a fight scene that they had filmed, about 30 seconds, and they asked me if I wanted to help them write a movie around it,” Dorsett said. “It started out small, but then it just exploded.”

That scene turned into the short film “Bonds of Brotherhood,” which won in the Urban Action Showcase International Action Film Festival in New York last year. The film starred Julia Ling and Ryan Stuart, who has appeared in the HBO series “Game of Thrones” and the blockbuster movie “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

“Bonds of Brotherhood” led to “Tango Down,” an even bigger project that has resulted in not just another film but has led to the creation of a community to support veterans and give them an outlet to tell their stories how they should be told, Dorsett said.

Directed by Roger Christiansen, who directed the last four seasons of the television sitcom “Friends,” “Tango Down” tells the story of two best friends, Samantha (played by Ling) and Russell (played by Stuart), who are serving in the Marines together. Russell ends up stepping up to take the heat for something Samantha does, creating an even stronger bond between the two, Dorsett said.

After deployments to Afghanistan, the two Marines are weary and worn out. When a mission goes bad, they struggle to come to terms with the outcome, and it impacts their lives differently.

Dorsett doesn’t want people to think “Tango Down” is a movie about post-traumatic stress disorder.

“We’re staying away from the broken veteran thing. It’s mostly about brotherhood,” he said. “But it shows how that loyalty can be strained and pushing what it would take to break.”

About 85 percent of the cast members and crew of “Tango Down” are veterans, which was vital to the film’s mission.

“We wanted it absolutely authentic, from tactics to uniforms to radio call signs, everything,” Dorsett said.

It also was the best part of making the movie, he said.

“The best thing for me, honestly, was seeing all these veterans coming from around the country, and some of these guys, they’ve dealt with some pretty major stuff. And this was, I think, therapeutic, beyond therapeutic, actually.”

With filming complete, Dorsett said they are planning on entering “Tango Down” in the Palm Springs International Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival in 2019. There also will be a premiere of the movie at Reno’s Cigar & Martini Lounge in downtown Seymour.

Dorsett said there’s even a possibility that a major production company could be interested in picking up the film.

“It’s gotten a lot of attention, and I think as more people have seen what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, they’re seeing it’s actually legit,” he said.

The film is currently in post-production and should be finished in May or June.

Through Indiegogo, a crowd funding site, the “Tango Down” team is continuing to raise money to help pay for film festival admissions, screenings and other costs associated with marketing the movie and supporting the “Tango Down” mission.

Dorsett’s longtime friend and fellow Seymour native, Nathan Cozart, was named an executive producer of the film for contributing financially to the project.

Although filming is complete, the work of Dorsett and the others who made the movie is just beginning as they embark on making more movies, with the next ones to be documentaries, some full length, telling the true stories of real veterans.

One of those stories comes from Dorsett himself and is about a bombing he went through in 2003.

“I’m actually contacting all the other people who were there that are left, and we’re working through it so that we get everything really correct,” he said. “We’re writing the screenplays, and they are good stories.”

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For information about “Tango Down,” visit tangodownfilm.com. You also can learn more about the film on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

To donate to “Tango Down,” visit indiegogo.com/projects/tango-down-authentic-powerful-story-by-veterans-film#.


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