It’s great to finally see "Military Motor Pool" air, be watched, and appreciated by so many viewers. The process has been long and often frustrating, since Dave Franklin and I first conceived the show in 2005, but we have at last proved that people are interested in historic military vehicles, and that a show about them has a valid place in the world of entertainment.
Dave and I first worked together in 1986 when he produced an author promotion video for my children’s book -- "Where The Pirates Are" -- which had won the Friends Of American Writers Award that year and made the Texas Bluebonnet Master List. For me, this led to a heavy schedule of book promotion and school tours which inspired our second video collaboration --"Jean Lafitte, Texas Hero" --. This docudrama, which chronicled the life of the colorful pirate/privateer and his contributions to Texas History, found its niche in the Texas School System and remained there well into the 1990's.
In the following years, Dave built a successful Houston-based video production company and I continued writing books while becoming more and more interested in both military vehicles and movie making. In 1995, I founded Toyland Combat Vehicles after getting a job driving tanks in the Denzel Washington/Meg Ryan film "Courage Under Fire". During two weeks of shooting outside El Paso, Texas, I logged over one hundred hours driving a British Centurion VII which had been rebuilt to resemble an M1 Abrams. Having once been a tank platoon commander, I had nothing but fun and fell in love with film making. I began tailoring my own military vehicle collection to the movie rental business, while developing a world wide network for locating other military vehicles. Sixteen years later, Toyland Combat Vehicles has supplied vehicles, weapons systems, and reenactors for somewhere near thirty productions ranging from instructional videos to major feature films..
My next collaboration with Dave Franklin came in 1999 on "Ferret 101". This thirty-minute instructional video covered basic maintenance, history and operation of the FV701 Ferret Scout Car. It was aimed at American collectors who purchased this rather odd British armored vehicle. For Dave and me, it was also a chance to try out a new generation of video equipment capable of producing broadcast quality footage while being small enough to easily shoot inside the tight confines of a tiny armored vehicle. "Ferret 101" became a test bed for our next, and much more challenging project.
We adapted a Howard Bushart short story --"Red Shoes_-- into a script and attempted to produce a thirty-minute independent film. From the onset, the production suffered from an endless problems and after weeks of shooting and thousands of dollars, became impossible to finish. Meanwhile, "Ferret 101" became what I would call "artistically successful". Although it sold to armored vehicle enthusiasts all over the world, financially, it barely broke even.
Fast forward to 2005. Dave is still producing TV commercials and I’m still writing books and playing war in the movies. Once again we’re looking for a new project. If there is one thing we had learned from past successes and failures, it was that: to produce a show, any show, without any money, you have to use what you already have, and what you can get for nothing. With that in mind, we conceived "Military Motor Pool".
I wrote the scripts, supplied the vehicles and the locations for the pilot episode. Dave directed, and did post production. To this we added a whole lot of help from our friends. Alan Bonny, a serious military vehicle collector, and one of the most knowledgeable people I know when it comes to early jeeps, joined us to help narrate the show. Marvin Schroeder, who now heads the Admiral Nimitz Museum "Living History Program", and whose movie credits include "Courage Under Fire", "The Alamo", "The Patriot", and "Wind Talkers", coordinated the one scene involving horses and cavalry uniforms. A neighbor supplied the overly talented chicken and the vintage Ford tractor which appear in scenes with the CJ2A jeep.
Only after post production was finished and we began trying to market our show, did we fully realize the hardest part still lay ahead. Hulu did not even exist at that time and we found there is really no one out there who had a clue as to how to market our show. One agent rejected it with the comment, "There’s already been a show about jeeps." The History Channel and several other networks looked seriously at it, thought about it, looked at it again, but ultimately said "no."
I must admit that, until they licensed "Military Motor Pool", I did not even know what Hulu was. I had seen their 2010 Superbowl commercial with aliens crawling out of Martin Sheen and thought it was neat, but had no idea what they were talking about. It was not until The Military Network (kind of like Hulu’s equivalent to The Military Channel on cable) began scouting shows in 2010, that I finally discovered Hulu. Less than a year later, here we are.
So what’s next? Now, just as with any show in pilot season, the future of "Military Motor Pool" is all a matter of viewership and ratings which create revenue and determine if we can afford to produce more episodes. Although we’ve only been on for a few weeks and the reality of it all is just setting in, I can only say we seem to be doing very well. As of this writing "Military Motor Pool" the most watched show on The Military Netwrok and plans are being made for future episodes, so thanks to all our viewers and to our friends, without whom this never would have been possible.
For the moment, please contact me directly at this email link. Thanks for your support.