Soldiers of Paint

Paintball fans are not the only audiences who can enjoy the documentary Soldiers of Paint – “A Film About the World’s Ultimate Paintball Game.” Directors and writers Michael DeChant and Doug Gritzmacher and their crew create an intriguing, action-packed experience five years in the making.

Anyone can enjoy the Double Six Productions-produced the Soldiers of Paint, a documentary from 136 hours of total shooting at the famous annual World War II “D-Day” paintball re-enactment event (the “world’s largest”) in Wyandotte, Oklahoma. Paintball participants gear up in this large-scale event while filmmakers capture some surprising personal accounts throughout the massive battles.

Most footage comes from the 2008 “D-Day” event, which was the closest scored contest in the history of the event. Other footage origins range from the 2009 to 2011 “D-Day” events. Filmmakers cover all scopes of the annual event where participants as restage D-Day, the notorious 6th of June Normandy Invasion of Operation Overlord, but instead of bullets, it’s paintball; instead of the French coast, it’s Oklahoma.

Audiences get several personal accounts following a chronological timeline with special focus on event organizer Dewayne Convers, the grandson of a veteran of Omaha Beach. His strong feelings of history, military honor, and genuine care for the participants really shine through. Logistical challenges of the paintball event combine with the trials of hosting thousands of people from around the country and the world. Convers leads the annual meeting, which really kicks off the behind-the-scenes aspects of the events including some intriguing strategy, spying, and other tactics on both sides (Axis and Allies).

Filmmakers do a great job depicting every aspect of these events, especially personal accounts from the thousands of participants including the international participants. A German trio added some interesting perspective from an international and historical point-of-view. Audiences really understand the logistics behind the event on an individual level and can enjoy several personal accounts.

Personal story highlights include a father-son team who enhance their unique bond throughout the game with authentic feelings and World War II veteran, Jake McNiece who served in the “Filthy Thirteen”, the 101st Airborne unit that fought during D-Day and whose stories inspired the movie The Dirty Dozen.

Staged on a 700-acre battlefield, the organizers and managers always treat this competitive paintball event as a tribute to all veterans even the Axis side, by not concentrating on the political views and more on the strategy and military tactics. Colored smoke markers help the commanders in the field mark territories and accurately keep updating their status maps.

Players also have tanks as targets using specialized paintball guns, so the individual does not only have their guns and grenades to consider. Players must hit a certain area of these large targets with the anti-tank paintball guns, so personnel decisions and point scoring become extremely important in this extremely close battle.

Filmmakers use helpful color schemes, map animations and text captions throughout the main paintball event. Filmmakers usually explain overview rules early with specific rules right before they occur in the field.

As in the actual event, the event begins with Allies assaulting three beaches – Sword, Utah and Omaha. Filmmakers utilize helpful post-production visuals so audiences can easily understand movements.

On the ground, audiences get amazing views in the midst of the firefight and can often see paint flying across the camera lens. Filmmakers use red tint color for the Axis and blue tint for the Allies without sacrificing clarity. It would have been amazing (and logistically) challenging to get a few simultaneous shooter/target sequences (something similar to the above visual) in slow motion where viewers see instantaneous results.

Filmmakers don’t use many “helmet cam” shots, but audiences can tell the camera operators are right in the thick of the battle with some great tracking shots and handheld shots where they follow behind participants. Camera operators can easily capture the thrill and joy of the event among the thousands of participants (male and female) on both sides who are willing to share their experiences and current situation within this “D-Day” battle. Audiences get motivation, strategy (especially concerning supplies of ammo and water) and relevant background, which later factors into future events.

Filmmakers also keep audiences updated on the scores with clear graphics as the event progresses. With the initial rules explained near the beginning in different segments, which avoids information overload, audiences gradually get a complete picture of the stakes for the participants. Each area is worth a specific amount of points at specific times throughout this “battle day”, so the strategy really place a nice role here and adds extra interest.

All players on the Allies (United States, Britain, Canada, and France) and Axis (German) demonstrate respect, honor, passion, and care throughout all positions from the commanding officers to the players diving into relentless firefights. The next “D-Day” paintball event in Wyandotte, Oklahoma will be from June 11 – 16, 2017. If you cannot actually attend this event, the recommended Soldiers of Paint (*** out of four stars) offers a high quality account that entertains, educates, and enthralls throughout the 97 minute running time.

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

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This entry was posted in 2010s Film Reviews, Film Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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