Director’s Statement

When I was first approached to make a film about recovery and PTSD, Executive Producer William F. Brandt, Jr. mentioned that two things were particularly important to him: the film should help people who were struggling through trauma, and it should also provide a sense of hope. 

While the focus in HERE. IS. BETTER. is on the veteran experience, as we edited the film through this pandemic year, the unspoken counterpoint to the narrative on screen is the universal trauma the world has gone through and how those themes are amplified in the documentary — the loss, the isolation, the stumbling back to normalcy, all impacted by the scars of our collective experience. 

The film principally interweaves the stories of 4 veterans — 2 men and 2 women — whose wartime and life experiences couldn’t have been more different. John served in Vietnam as a door gunner; Teresa drove convoys in Iraq; Jason was a military intelligence officer in Afghanistan; Tabitha served in Iraq and Afghanistan as a welder and a member of the ‘Lioness’ program. Their willingness to tell their stories — to be heard for a common purpose — is one of the great gifts of making this film, and I only wish we could have featured all of the remarkable veterans we have met along this journey. 

Though John, Teresa, Jason and Tabitha all differ in age, background, and the type of trauma they had been through, there was nonetheless something universal among their shared experiences. They all desired a greater connectedness with family, friends, or others in their communities, but did not know how to get it back. As Teresa says early in the documentary, something was left in the desert, and she didn’t want to go back to find it. It was easier and less complicated just to let it stay there. Putting those pieces back together, the restoration of these lives, is a key pillar of the film: a sense of self had somehow been lost that they so desperately wanted to get back and make whole again, here. I am honored that they put their faith in us as a team to get their stories out in the world.

-Jack Youngelson

Director’s Statement

When I was first approached to make a film about recovery and PTSD, Executive Producer William F. Brandt, Jr. mentioned that two things were particularly important to him: the film should help people who were struggling through trauma, and it should also provide a sense of hope. 

While the focus in HERE. IS. BETTER. is on the veteran experience, as we edited the film through this pandemic year, the unspoken counterpoint to the narrative on screen is the universal trauma the world has gone through and how those themes are amplified in the documentary — the loss, the isolation, the stumbling back to normalcy, all impacted by the scars of our collective experience. 

The film principally interweaves the stories of 4 veterans — 2 men and 2 women — whose wartime and life experiences couldn’t have been more different. John served in Vietnam as a door gunner; Teresa drove convoys in Iraq; Jason was a military intelligence officer in Afghanistan; Tabitha served in Iraq and Afghanistan as a welder and a member of the ‘Lioness’ program. Their willingness to tell their stories — to be heard for a common purpose — is one of the great gifts of making this film, and I only wish we could have featured all of the remarkable veterans we have met along this journey. 

Though John, Teresa, Jason and Tabitha all differ in age, background, and the type of trauma they had been through, there was nonetheless something universal among their shared experiences. They all desired a greater connectedness with family, friends, or others in their communities, but did not know how to get it back. As Teresa says early in the documentary, something was left in the desert, and she didn’t want to go back to find it. It was easier and less complicated just to let it stay there. Putting those pieces back together, the restoration of these lives, is a key pillar of the film: a sense of self had somehow been lost that they so desperately wanted to get back and make whole again, here. I am honored that they put their faith in us as a team to get their stories out in the world.

-Jack Youngelson

Why This story Now?

HERE. IS. BETTER. chronicles the stories of four service men and women, whose grit, smarts, and perseverance are on full display as they allow cameras to witness their most deeply personal, inevitably tense, raw, and honest therapy sessions in real—time. The film seeks to bring understanding to how the human mind responds to trauma, to what a diagnosis of PTSD means, and how PTSD can impact daily life, far removed from a military setting. The film does not seek to be prescriptive, but rather illustrates how the right fit of trauma therapies and other beneficial modalities can transform darkness into light for these veterans who gave so much but came home with little understanding of what happened to them while serving their country.

While veterans can be up to four times more likely to have PTSD than civilians, the root causes of PTSD are wide—ranging. What needs to be understood is that trauma comes in all forms, including the impact of sexual or physical assault, natural disasters, abuse, exposure to violence, serious health issues, or the death of a loved one. Seemingly unexceptional events can adversely affect people in different professions, from frontline medical workers to EMS to grocery store clerks to delivery couriers. This film is meant to help veterans who have experienced trauma, but also to help audiences who may be experiencing the aftermath of any devastating event and have no idea where or how to find a path forward. As the world still grapples with the collective trauma of the pandemic, the need for effective mental health treatment — free from stigma — is more important than ever.

HERE. IS. BETTER. illustrates how the seemingly impossible mission to heal may become possible as John, Teresa, Jason, and Tabitha choose to face each day with the bravery to seek help and the hope of what help can bring. 

HERE. IS. BETTER. chronicles the stories of four service men and women, whose grit, smarts, and perseverance are on full display as they allow cameras to witness their most deeply personal, inevitably tense, raw, and honest therapy sessions in real—time. The film seeks to bring understanding to how the human mind responds to trauma, to what a diagnosis of PTSD means, and how PTSD can impact daily life, far removed from a military setting. The film does not seek to be prescriptive, but rather illustrates how the right fit of trauma therapies and other beneficial modalities can transform darkness into light for these veterans who gave so much but came home with little understanding of what happened to them while serving their country.

While veterans can be up to four times more likely to have PTSD than civilians, the root causes of PTSD are wide—ranging. What needs to be understood is that trauma comes in all forms, including the impact of sexual or physical assault, natural disasters, abuse, exposure to violence, serious health issues, or the death of a loved one. Seemingly unexceptional events can adversely affect people in different professions, from frontline medical workers to EMS to grocery store clerks to delivery couriers. This film is meant to help veterans who have experienced trauma, but also to help audiences who may be experiencing the aftermath of any devastating event and have no idea where or how to find a path forward. As the world still grapples with the collective trauma of the pandemic, the need for effective mental health treatment — free from stigma — is more important than ever.

HERE. IS. BETTER. illustrates how the seemingly impossible mission to heal may become possible as John, Teresa, Jason, and Tabitha choose to face each day with the bravery to seek help and the hope of what help can bring. 

Production

Jack Youngelson20210601223157

Jack Youngelson

Director
Jack Youngelson is an Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker and writer. Most recently, he was the writer on All In: The Fight For Democracy, an Amazon Original documentary about the history of voter suppression as told against the backdrop of Stacey Abrams’ 2018 gubernatorial campaign. For this project, he received ...
Sian Edwards-Beal20210602223152

Sian Edwards-Beal

Producer
Sian is an Emmy Award-winning producer, writer, and director who has created and delivered a comprehensive range of film, television and web content for networks including HBO, the BBC, National Geographic, and Channel 4. Sian began her career running production for international companies working in the United Stat...
David Beal20210603223144

David Beal

Producer
David is a film, TV and music producer who co—founded Green Hummingbird in 2014 as a boutique studio to develop and produce thought—provoking storytelling. Prior, David served as the President of National Geographic Entertainment, the President of Palm Pictures, and as a music producer, producing movie themes such as t...
William F. Brandt, Jr.20210604214027

William F. Brandt, Jr.

Executive Producer
William F. Brandt, Jr. is a cofounder and former CEO of American Woodmark Corporation, which was formed in 1980 to acquire Boise Cascade Corporation’s kitchen cabinet business. American Woodmark is among the top three largest cabinet manufacturers. Annual sales have grown from $35 million to over $1.5 billion. Brandt h...
Chloe Hall20210604220034

Chloe Hall

Co-Producer
Chloe Hall is a producer and director whose work in film and television has awarded her two Emmy nominations. She has worked in reality and scripted television for Bravo, has produced and directed documentary series for PBS, Discovery Channel and The Travel Channel, most notably Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, Gour...
Karen K. H. Sim20210604222010

Karen K. H. Sim

Editor
Karen K. H. Sim began her documentary filmmaking career as editor on Maro Chermayeff’s Juilliard. She then further honed her skills in storytelling by working with Frontline producer/director Ofra Bikel, editing a number of her films, including the Emmy Award-winning An Ordinary Crime. Since then, she has contributed t...
Daniel Carter20210604224041

Daniel Carter

Director of Photography
Daniel Carter is a New York based Cinematographer working mostly in Documentary Films and Series that challenge and expand the social status quo. Daniel was Director of Photography on the docuseries Golden: The Journey of USA's Elite Gymnasts and We Are: The Brooklyn Saints. He was also DP on the feature documentaries ...
Kara DioGuardi20210605234550

Kara DioGuardi

Artist
Kara DioGuardi is a music creator and industry veteran whose collaborations with P!nk, Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson, Celine Dion, Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato and more have garnered 11 Grammy nominations and 23 BMI Awards. DioGuardi’s songwriting catalog includes 150 songs from RIAA Platinum albums and 50 cha...
Jeremiah Fraites20210606235130

Jeremiah Fraites

Composer
Jeremiah Fraites is a co—founder, songwriter, and multi—instrumentalist of The Lumineers. The GRAMMY Award—nominated and Billboard Music Award—nominated band have enjoyed substantial commercial success from their outset. Their 2012 self —titled debut album, which featured the hit single “Ho Hey,” is certified triple— p...
David Baron20210607002136

David Baron

Composer
Record producer, film composer, musician, arranger, engineer located in Woodstock, New York. The artists he has worked with include: Lumineers, Shania Twain, Jade Bird, Shawn Mendes, Vance Joy, Meghan Trainor, Lenny Kravitz, Jeremiah Fraites, Josin, Matt Maeson and Lana Del Rey. He blends retro and modern, orchestrated...
Josin20210608002730

Josin

Artist
Born in Cologne to a Korean mother and German father, both of whom are opera singers, JOSIN grew up in a household with music at its centre. Nevertheless, she decided to follow a childhood dream and studied medicine in Nice. “I did my first year of medical school, but there was something missing. I think I never really...

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