In Brief In addition to guiding visitors around the battlefields of Normandy, I have always enjoyed working on other projects about WWII, and have worked as a Battlefield Historian on several TV documentaries. If you want to discuss a project with me, please contact me.
In Detail Although leading tours keeps me busy, since 1992 I have had a secondary career in TV and film. I started out as an extra and took part in many shows, a lot of which don't appear on my resume. Since 2000 I moved to behind the scenes work and have worked under various titles such as "battlefield guide" and "military advisor." In many cases my contribution is acknowledged under "thanks."
My first media project of 2017 was taking part in a podcast about the 82nd Airborne, an officially created series of shows by the current 82nd Airborne Public Affairs Office. I appear in this show - talking about the famous DDay cricket.
In September 2016. The Smithsonian Channel aired a series called WWII's Most Daring Raids". I helped with Easy Company's First Assault with advice about the layout of guns at Brecourt Manor (as featured in my Band of Brothers Tour.) Some of my advice was not taken, but it is still gratifying to assist in getting Normandy stories into the homes of history buffs worldwide. In 2015 I helped organise the Band of Brothers reunion in conjunction with WarGaming Europe - see me at 3.20 minutes here in this clip. In 2014 I was asked to be the military advisor on Eagles of Mercy, a film about the two 101st Airborne medics I wrote about in my book. An interesting piece about the shooting of the film can be found here on the Johnston Sunrise website.
In March 2014, I was interviewed in a studio in front of a green-screen to appear as a talking head in a big 4 hour DDay in HD Special for History Channel. I featured in the first show primarily talking about the landings on Omaha Beach and the second show covering the fighting for St Lo. I also talked about the Mulberry Harbours and the British beaches for the History Channel website.
In February 2014 I was engaged by Windfall films from the UK, and spent several days filming with them on Omaha Beach. This was for a new documentary primarily about new methods of studying the invasion - DDay 360, which aired on PBS in the USA in June 2014. The team were doing some quite exciting things, including creating a 3D LIDAR model of Omaha Beach (Dog Green) sector into which they placed 360 degree photos of bunkers, troops and weapons to provide a new way of explaining the German defences. I was used as a guide and filmed leading American weapons and bunkers expert Steve Zaloga through some positions not normally visited by tourists. It was truly fascinating work and something I found stimulating and rewarding. I was initially only to work behind the scenes but ended up getting mic'd up and appear guiding expert Steve Zalogo through a mortar bunker - you can see me at 28 minutes 30 seconds here on YouTube.
If you are reading this and are looking for someone who knows Normandy and enjoys working with film-crews please contact me with details of your film.
In 2013 I was the local guide and on-screen historian in a two-part film about 30 Assault Unit Royal Commando. BBC One Show politcal and current affairs presenter Justin Rowlatt's Grandfather was killed in Normandy serving with that unit, and I guided the crew to the exact location where he was killed and explained some of 30 AU's role on camera to Justin. Despite the fact it was freezing cold that day it was a interesting experience. Justin referenced me (albeit spelling my name incorrectly) here in this magazine article.
It was particularly gratifying to get across (however briefly) the truly international nature of DDay. We filmed on Utah Beach, which of course was an American landing site on DDay. But men of many different Nationalities and backgrounds landed there, including Ian Fleming's (yes THAT Ian Fleming) 30 Assault Unit. To stand in a field very close to a well-used tourist road and consider the British specialists who died there in a German air-attack was humbling.
Another project I helped with in early 2013 was Mega Nazi Weapons Atlantic Wall for PBS. You can watch the show here. I am not sure I would have chosen the overly dramatic title, and my role was minor in the production. Basically I gave the director a tour of some bunkers in Normandy and answered a bunch of questions for the researcher.
I have worked with film crews on both large National TV projects and independent films. all are rewarding - in different ways. In 2012 I assisted with D-Day the Last Heroes for the BBC with Dan Snow and in 2011 I participated in an archaeological dig at Brecourt Manor, behind Utah beach for a brilliant BBC series called Dig WW2 - also presented by Dan Snow. I was the local historical expert and appeared on screen digging and identifing the various relics we found.
In 2009 I worked with director Keith Famie and his crew for the Normandy portion of the documentary Detroit our Greatest Generation. I scouted locations for filming, and arranged for permission to film inside museums and a chapel. I also acted as historical advisor with regards to connecting the memories of the participating veteran - Captain Merle Barr (US Combat Engineer on D-Day) to the places he fought on Omaha beach and towards St Lô.
If you are filming in Normandy I can assist with location scouting, permissions and historical advice. Plus (with notice) I can arrange for WWII military vehicles, re-enactors, weaponry and other props that may be difficult to bring to France if you are coming from overseas.
As a former military vehicle owner, and WWII re-enactor with 20 years experience I can offer advise on wardrobe, uniforms, weaponry, vehicles and serve as technical advisor. Which combined with my knowledge as a battlefield guide can be invaluable to film-makers. Plus, I am also familiar enough with the film industry to know how things work. I know when to shut up and let the film-maker pursue his vision and would not over-step my role. When I lived in the UK I worked on many productions as a specialist military supporting artist, including the Dunkirk scenes for No Bananas for LWT with Stephanie Beacham, Saving Private Ryan, The Memphis Belle, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, The Last of the Blonde Bombshells with Dame Judi Dench, Battlefields (Arnhem and Monte Cassino episodes) with the late Professor Richard Holmes and many more. I also worked as a technical advisor on some documentary series, notably The Blackout Murders, and War Stories for Discovery Channel. As such I have worked on productions both large and small and in addition to the actual film shoots, I am happy to work with your writers and/or post-production teams.
I do not always have to work for a fee, it very much depends on the project. For veterans' documentaries and/or independent films, I can work for just a credit. Please contact me with details of your project and what assistance you may require.