FIELD OF VALOR:
Air Activities of Texas
The Story
Europe was burning in 1939 and the Pacific was primed to explode. In Washington, as in most of the United States, people viewed the rise of the Axis powers as a problem that was over there. Still reeling from World War I, the American public was not interested in thinking about a new war and the politicians were reluctant to even hint at it. So it was pushed aside for as long as possible. And both the politicians and public turned their backs on the warnings from the military that the war could not be ignored.

When the storm finally broke over America, we were not prepared. We did not even have plans in place to provide the men and machines needed to execute a desperate attempt to stave off the forces poised to attack.  The fledgling Army Air Corps was not even prepared to train enough pilots in a year to replace losses for a month.

But General “Hap” Arnold had an idea: why not partner with civilian flying schools to help weed out the volunteers and provide some basic military flight training? After all, many of the instructors at these schools were former military pilots. While many thought he was pursuing a hopeless cause, General Arnold called together a small group of civilian flight school owners and made his pitch – primary training for pilots and initially at their own expense. It was a good pitch.

Across the country, approximately 60 schools sprang up, producing enough pilots to fill the cockpits of the fighters and bombers that shattered the Axis. The attrition rate was high, but the civilian training fields, with cooperation from the Air Corps, came through. Now, most of the fields are memories. But in Corsicana, Texas, just south of Dallas, there remains an air field that exemplifies the effort put forth by one of the most successful civilian-government partnerships in history. A look at Corsicana Field provides a great insight on how an old tank farm could become a Field of Valor at a time when America needed it the most.

RELEASE ANNOUNCEMENT

Ignite Productions & Entertainment, LLC and Brandt Media  have concluded a sales representative agreement for Field of Valor: Air Activities of Texas with Wonderphil Entertainment, LLC of San Francisco. 

We will announce the release date and types of media the film will be available on as soon as the information is available.
Production Team
James A. Willis, Producer/Director/Co-Writer
Mr. Willis has had vast experience in film, television, and video. He served as Producer/Co-writer of the low budget feature The Dreaded in 1990. He served as Producer/Production Coordinator for VideoPlus, Inc. (now Success Partners) where he oversaw editorial operations, freelance producers, and project budgeting for the nationally known organization. James wrote and produced the independent television pilot West Texas Khaki, a rural comedy shot in North Texas in 1997 and later served as Art Director/Location Manager on the award winning feature film Love Land in 2014. 

Expanding his knowledge in the film industry, James gained valuable experience on studio films such as Paramount Pictures Necessary Roughness and Warner Bros. Any Given Sunday as a Production Assistant. He went on to obtain the rights and pen the screenplay version of best-selling author Fred Saberhagen's novel After the Fact.

Mr. Willis has experience in other facets of the industry including motion picture exhibition. He has worked for companies such as United Artists Theatres, Regal Entertainment Group, Movie Tavern Partners, and Cinergy Cinemas.

James founded Ignite Productions & Entertainment in 2012 to create television, film, and corporate product.
James B. Brandt, Writer/Co-Producer
Mr. Brandt’s first production, Dr. Who in America (1983), went into international syndication and was purchased by the BBC. He has written, produced, and directed numerous film and television programs since then, including projects for major international release.

For eight years, James served as President of Scorpio International Ltd., a film and television distribution company located in Dallas, Texas, where he managed the distribution of film and television programs on the international market.

Mr. Brandt also served with Mr. Willis as Co-Producer on West Texas Khaki, a television pilot shot in North Texas, consulted on the screenplay After the Fact and collaborated on the proposed series Miles Chancey. Later, he managed the on-screen content for Advision Media, an ad agency in Phoenix, Arizona and wrapped three television shows, In Sessions, The Arizona Soccer Show, and The Breakfast Club with Kimber Leigh. James also served as the producer for the proposed paranormal series Strange but True with Gary Williams. His latest work, the feature film The Miller Prediction is now in release.

Mr. Brandt has  optioned his screenplay Carrot and continues work on numerous projects through Brandt Media.
Production Background

Production News

LATEST NEWS

We have agreed on sales representation for distribution of the film. Once the final deal is inked an announcement will be made.


HISTORY OF THE PROJECT FROM PRODUCER JAMES WILLIS

The project and title originated for me back in 2014 when I was searching for a possible subject for a documentary. I had heard about the Corsicana airport having originally been an Army flight training facility and had seen a short video that local businessman Lloyd Huffman had made in the late 80’s or early 90’s on the subject.

Being an avid history buff this story intrigued me. Soon after starting to do some preliminary research I meet Sarah and Gary Farley of the Corsicana Municipal Airport. They were a treasure trove of information and it was then that I became aware of the Glenn Cumbie Museum of Aviation and Military History and the Corsicana Field Aviation Heritage Foundation. I asked them to come and speak about their work at a local service club, which I was a member of at the time, and their talk remained floating around in the back of my head for some time.

To take on a new production, it involves a great deal of time, energy, money, and effort and pretty much takes over your life for a year or more. So if you’re going to move forward you have to push yourself and remain committed and that’s not always easy. You also have to enjoy the process. I love the production business, and yes it is a business. However, it’s a unique industry in that you’re dealing with many different types of occupations ranging from writers and actors to carpenters and electricians and the personalities you’re involved with can be very interesting. You tend to learn something new every day and that keeps your job from getting boring. However, there are those times where you feel like you’re up against the world and sit back and wonder how you got yourself caught up in an all consuming project. Therefore, you have a lot of projects that you would like to do but just don’t have the support and backing necessary to accomplish them.
  
After a few more years and several attempts to launch a new project I returned to the idea of telling the story of Corsicana Field and its World War II operations. I thought the subject would be an interesting but manageable project that would also be fun to do. I had no idea just how complex the story of Corsicana Field was. Upon sitting down with the Farleys, I quickly realized the story would be more difficult to tell than I originally thought. To be honest, I felt a little overwhelmed after our meeting. There was so much information and material to work with but here were two very dedicated people (the Farleys) who were willing to help in any way necessary to get the project moving and they would become our consultants and so much more. So the decision was made, “Field of Valor” would be my next endeavor.

At that point, I felt that to do the project right we needed to incorporate some re-enactment scenes within the documentary to add a dramatic quality to it. I called an associate of mine in Phoenix, James Brandt, and asked if he’d be interested in writing the program if I would produce and direct. He accepted the role as writer as well as co-producer and we began working through script ideas. Then, I sought out Lloyd Huffman as director of photography who I have known and worked with since the late 80’s. He would work with us to set up the shots for the local interviews and re-enactment scenes which were to be a key part of the production.

One issue with producing a project based on a subject over seventy years old is available material. Luckily, in this case we had vintage photographs, some original buildings that we could shoot, and even three PT-19 Fairchild training airplanes from Gary Farley, the Corsicana Field Aviation Heritage Foundation, and the local Commemorative Air Force branch, the Coyote Squadron. These airplanes were exactly like the ones used at the field originally and were available for the re-enactment scenes. However, our luck also extended to several original personnel from the field. The Farleys arranged contacts with two living cadets, one in West Virginia and the other in California and one original flight instructor who resided in Oklahoma. We also discovered we had access to the nephews of another cadet that trained here in Corsicana, one of which had authored a book about his uncle’s time during the war. We certainly could not do the project justice without interviewing these participants so the project expanded once again and crews were assembled for their interviews here and out of state. We also arranged an interview with historian Dr. Tommy Stringer because of his knowledge and writings about the airfield as well as the Corsicana area.   

Once we had a rough script draft in our hands we began planning our shooting schedule. First, we would complete most of the interviews and build the final script and re-enactment scenes around them. The interviews themselves were shot throughout the summer and fall of 2017. At the same time, we had to cast the primary and secondary roles for the re-enactment scenes.

Casting “Field of Valor” was changeling because most of our actors were to play cadets and had to meet certain qualifications such as age, weight, and height just like those that joined the program seventy-some years before. So I spent a lot of time running pictures and stats through the Farleys. Finally, we selected our recruits—actors and moved to the next stage in the process. If our actors were going to portray new cadets then they had to act like they knew something about being cadets so a meeting was set up between them and Gary Farley at the airport. During this meeting, Gary explained the details of the flight training program and familiarized them with the PT-19 airplane and its equipment including suiting them up in vintage parachutes. Then we had to address their wardrobe. Their uniforms had to be authentic down to the shoulder patches they wore so they all had to go through fittings with our wardrobe staff supervised by the Farleys. The re-enactment scenes were eventually shot in September and October of 2017 at the Corsicana Municipal Airport with cooperation from the airport administration, the city of Corsicana, the Corsicana Fire Department, the Farleys, and the Coyote Squadron. Our pilot for all the aircraft flight scenes was Bobby Grantham who did an excellent job maneuvering Gary Farley’s vintage PT-19 for the camera.   We ended up with cast, crew, and interview participants from all over the country including Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, California, Louisiana, West Virginia, and of course Texas.

The reason for the project is to tell an important and mostly unknown story about our history. As far as I’m aware, no one has done such an involved documentary about the subject before. I believe it’s important to know our past so we can effectively chart our future. So many in our society know very little about our history and why things are the way they are today and I think this leads to a lot of our current problems. We hope “Field of Valor” can help educate its audience in an entertaining way at special showings, film festivals, and beyond.
© 2017, 2018 Ignite Productions & Entertainment, LLC and Brandt Media
© 2017, 2018 Ignite Productions & Entertainment, LLC and Brandt Media