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Realism Highlighted in ‘Act of Valor’

31 May, 2012 By: Chris Tribbey

Director Scott Waugh (left) and Mark Divine, a 20-year veteran of the Elite Navy SEALs, promote 'Act of Valor.'

ENCINITAS, Calif. — On May 30 a half dozen reporters were given a glimpse of what it takes to become a Navy SEAL, lifting 250-pound logs, running drills in knee-deep ocean water and covering themselves with sand.

It’s something Scott Waugh hasn’t done himself.

“I’ve only observed,” said the director of Act of Valor, a military action film starring eight real Navy SEALs, out June 5 on DVD and Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. “I realized my body probably wouldn’t do that well. ‘Never quit’ is the motto, but as a civilian you don’t really understand until you see it. I’d ring the bell.”

The reporters made it out in one piece — barely — and were given a better understanding of what’s required every day from the stars of Act of Valor.

“We just wanted to give you a taste,” said Mark Divine, a 20-year veteran of the Elite Navy SEALs and owner of the Seal Fit training center in Encinitas. “Because we operate in the water, you have to be extremely fit and mentally tough. No slackers, everyone on the team. fully charged, ready to rock and roll, all the time.”

Divine praised the realism and combat scenes in Act of Valor, saying, “I felt like I was back in active duty.

“The fact they portrayed how difficult it was for the families brought it home for me, because that’s the decision I had to make myself,” he added.

The film came about because the Navy wanted a promotional video made about SEALs, Waugh said. It wasn’t until after speaking with the real men that the idea for a feature film came up.

“We truthfully didn’t know much about that world,” Waugh said. “We were going to use actors, but once we got to know the complexity of their character, their homes, their wives, their kids, and see them in operative mode, we suggested a film.

“They all said no,” he added. “They all turned us down.”

It took promises of a proper, respectful portrayal of Navy SEAL life — and the promise that the SEALs could be themselves instead of acting — to convince the eight to do it.

Divine said the dialogue was intense among the SEALs about whether or not to do the film, “because they’re not Hollywood,” he said. “But the movie was done in a way that honored the operators, living and dead. They’re focused on hunting down the next bad guy.”

For the bonus features, Waugh points Blu-ray owners first to the interviews with the SEALs, something he says nobody has ever seen before, because “Navy SEALs don’t do interviews.” The interviews were first meant to be background for the film’s writers, but they turned out to be so compelling, they were edited down and included in the bonuses, Waugh said.

Also included are deleted scenes, a director’s commentary, six featurettes, videos and more, so much that “there isn’t an ounce of space left on the disc,” Waugh said.

Fox and Relativity Media are donating a portion of the proceeds of each DVD and Blu-ray sale to Operation Homefront, a national nonprofit that provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of service members.

“We wanted to give back to all branches of the armed forces,” Waugh said.

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