Oakland-based filmmakers Carl D. Brown and Sean Donnelly arrived in San Diego on Wednesday, January 19, to film footage for a documentary on the Young Marines, a training program for children aged 8 to 18. The feature-length documentary will follow four main characters and their families over the course of nine weeks.
“We’re interested in the young people involved in the program,” says Brown, director and founder of Corduroy Media. “The questions we hope to answer are about the changes the young people go through in this kind of training program.”
The Young Marines website claims the organization “is the focal point for the U.S. Marine Corps' youth Drug Demand Reduction efforts.” It is partially funded by the Department of Defense but is not an official offshoot of the United States Marine Corps. Besides calisthenics and rock climbing, marching drills and rifle training are included in their program.
“We’re getting a wide variety of folks,” Brown says. “Some think it’s a great thing, and others are conflicted about the training and their children’s involvement.” Although the Young Marines is a voluntary program, Brown and Donnelly give an example of one parent from the film, a Marine who supports his child’s involvement but who has also expressed reservations. “On camera, he’s said Tommy can gain a lot from the principals and the discipline, but that he doesn’t want him to become a toy soldier,” Donnelly says.
The Young Marines website claims “over 300 Young Marine units nationwide, including international units and affiliates in Okinawa, Japan, Germany, and Australia.” Nine of those units are within 60 miles of San Diego, and three are inside San Diego city limits.
The Corduroy Media film crew plans to fly in and out of San Diego every two to three weeks for the next few months, using a house in Golden Hill as their home base. They hope to have a version of the film ready for the fall film-festival season.