How Sebastian Junger Went Hobo for HBO Doc ‘Last Patrol’ (TRAILER)
How Sebastian Junger Went Hobo for HBO Doc 'Last Patrol' (TRAILER)
Vanity Fair writer Sebastian Junger
is well-known not only for “The Perfect Storm” (which was made into a George Clooney action movie) and his intrepid war reporting–which he ended after the untimely death in Libya of his long-time partner, British Vanity Fair photographer and cinematographer Tim Hetherington–but the Oscar-nominated documentary
“Restrepo” and its sequel “Korengal.”
Read: Why Sebastian Junger Made and Self-Released ‘Restrepo’ Sequel ‘Korengal’
Concluding his trilogy on war is HBO-backed “The Last Patrol” (which will also be a book), about four men who have given up covering war. The doc debuts Monday, November 10 (9:00-10:30 p.m. ET/PT), the day before Veterans Day, exclusively on HBO.
On a train trip from New York to Washington, D.C. with Hetherington, Junger noticed looking out the train window that “the railroad tracks go straight through the middle of everything–ghettos, suburbs, crumbling industry, farms and swamps,” he told me. “You see America from the inside out. I realized that for the entire length it’s very easy to walk alongside the rails safely.” So he proposed to Hetherington that they should walk the train tracks from D.C. to New York, carrying everything they needed.
“And then Tim got killed and I decided never to go to war again,” Junger says. “I’m done with seeking out situations where I’ll get shot at.” So Junger took the trip with two combat vets from “Restrepo” (Brendan O’Byrne and Dave Roelsand) and photojournalist Guillermo Cervera, who was holding Hetherington’s hand when he died. (Manhattan Anastasia Photo’s first solo exhibition of Guillermo Cervera work covering 20 years runs Oct. 24 to Jan. 4.) Junger clipped a Sony A7 to his backpack straps. Cameraman Randy Velez shot with a Canon C300 loaned by Canon. And Junger brought Daisy, a sweet but intimidating Rottweiler/Retriever/Shepherd mix, equipped with a GoPro on her back.
The men hiked at high speed the 300-mile trip from D.C. through Philadelphia to Pittsburgh in stages over the course of a year without tents, freezing in winter, boiling in summer. They carried their gear in 60-70 pound backpacks complete with bear spray, machete knives and dog chow, buying food as they went. They washed themselves and their dishes in rivers and creeks, slept under bridges or in derelict buildings or the woods, cooking over open fires. As they walked they had long conversations, dodged police–they were trespassing on Amtrak property–and were startled, to say the least, when one man fired a shot over their heads. Along the route they asked various people they encountered what they thought of America. Says Junger: “I wanted to see what America was made of.”
“The Last Patrol” was directed by Junger; producers, Junger and Nick Quested; editor, Michael Levine; cinematographer, Rudy Valdez. For HBO: supervising producer, Sara Bernstein; executive producer, Sheila Nevins.