KeystoneEdge.com: Iraq War Vet's PA-Made Film A Reflection of Time Served

In January, 2007, then-President George Bush ordered more than 20,000 troops to Baghdad, beginning what is known as the "Surge" in the long-running Iraq War.
 
Daniel Speers was serving in the U.S. Army's 1-12 CAB unit not far from the Iraq capital. He was stop-lossed -- his stay in combat was involuntarily extended -- and his second tour in Iraq lasted 15 months before returning home to his native Southeastern PA.
 
The budding filmmaker who grew up in Downingtown and graduated from Temple University already had a different way of looking at the world. He was enamored with the history in and around Philadelphia and the diverse natural landscapes that change with the seasons as you travel futher into the suburbs.

But the 30 months he spent in military combat fundamentally changed his worldview.

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The Morning Call: Army lifted aspiring director Daniel Speers of Chester County

Transient

Even though Downingtown native Daniel Speers grew up obsessed with movies, particularly Mel Gibson's "Braveheart," he never imagined he'd have the confidence to direct his own films.

It took a stint in the Army for Speers to realize that he owed it to himself to try and realize his dreams.

"The Army changed the way I viewed life," says Speers, 28. "They broke my pride down. Basic training was miserable. But once I stopped questioning [the process], they started building me back up. And I begin to see what's possible with discipline.

"It's actually one of the themes I return to again and again in my movies. Even a person who's afraid of failure can achieve their goals if they're willing to put in the time."

After five years in the military, 27 months of which was spent in Iraq, Speers returned to Pennsylvania with a determination to make movies. He enrolled in Temple University's film school and quickly turned out two shorts, including "Divided," which earned best first film at Temple's Diamond Screen student festival and "Clara Te Foveo," the story of a man grieving for his late wife.

Speers' latest film "Infinite" is his most ambitious project. The 20-minute sci-fi thriller centers on an astronaut who awakens from a long sleep aboard a spacecraft only to discover the presence of an otherworldly being. Unlike Speers' previous shorts, "Infinite" required the extensive use of computer-generated special effects.

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BroadwayFilm.com: Infinite, Continues Work In Reading, PA

Local independent filmmaker, Daniel Speers, and his upcoming film, Infinite, will take viewers into the future and to The Edge of time to a point of ultimate decision. A man awakes from cryogenic sleep aboard a space craft to find that his mission to start things over on a new planet has failed. The themes of human connection, and the power of choice amidst fears and hope are explored.

Utilizing the revolutionary Red One camera, and extensive use of green screen photography and constructed sets for interiors of a space craft serve to set this film apart. The film was largely shot in Reading, PA at 6 O'Clock Studios earlier this year, as well as on-location spots and landmarks within Berks and Chester counties.

Infinite features the talent of lead actors Mark Kochanowicz and Peter Phillips, as well as accomplished local producers, cinematographers, and crew. Notable names are visual effects and mold maker, Greg Kochan (The Lovely Bones, Blue Valentine, Bereavement) and set designer, Gillian Speers, who works set design on the show Saturday Night Live.

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PressandJournal.com: Student films draw big crowd at MAAC

It was standing room only at the Middletown Area Arts Collective Friday for the kick off of the Traveling Diamonds movie roadshow, a collection of 13 short films by students at Temple University. 

Extra chairs had to be brought into the spacious gallery seat everyone.

 “This is the first time we’ve had strangers come to see our films, and then had them come up to us afterward to say they enjoyed it,” said Max Einhorn of Middletown, chief director of the Traveling Diamonds show and producer of one of the films. 

“It’s a great feeling.”

The films premiered at the show were created by students at Temple University where Einhorn is studying film, mostly as class projects. Most had only been seen in classrooms or by family members.

Einhorn organized The Traveling Diamonds exhibition to promote student work from Temple. 

The show was an out-of-classroom experiment in professional film for these talented Temple students.

“You could say that this whole festival is a training experience,” said Daniel Speers, director of the short film “Clara Te Foveo.” “By showing our work on the road we’re training for the next film and the next one after that, working our way up to feature-length productions.”

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Reading Eagle: Daniel Speers' cinematic stories hit home

Looking back over the narrative of his own life, Daniel Speers can find the moment that turned him into a filmmaker. 

A fifth-grade boy who enjoyed creating epic battles for his toy soldiers to carry out, he saw Mel Gibson's "Braveheart," with its battle scenes and warrior hero, and thought to himself, "I can do that." 

"I was already doing it, basically," he said. "Just without a camera." 

It would be nearly 15 more years - five of them spent as a soldier himself - before Speers got to test that theory.

In 2008 he finally got his chance, enrolling as a film student at Temple University after five years of serving with the Army, half of them in Iraq.

He filmed a short, "Divided," in Berks County last year, and is now at work on his second, "Closure": Late last month, he shot a scene for the new picture at the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts.

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