What first turned you on to the story of Sgt. Clay Usie and his recruits?
It was in 2004 at the height of the war and I was feeling very frustrated and disconnected from what was happening, particularly from the soldiers who were serving - seeing every day just names and ages and home locations but not really knowing anything else about who it was who was serving and giving their life. At that point I wasn't sure what I was going to do. I got subscriptions to all sorts of magazines and newspapers, one of which was The Army Times. And after a few months of reading, I happened upon an article about Sgt. Usie. He had just won the Army Times Soldier of the Year Award, in part for being one of the top recruiters in the country. So I called him and that's really what set it all off.
Was it difficult to get the Army on board and convince them to give you the access you'd need?
No. In fact I wrote them a letter explaining really honestly what I wanted to do, and they did a background check and then I signed a contract with them, which was one of the most film-friendly contracts I've ever received. I've heard since then that they're imposing more restrictions, but they were very open to it. I think they also felt that ultimately it would really be the discretion of Sgt. Usie - and then later in basic training the drill sergeants and the public-affairs officers - as to how much time, how much access they'd give. The only time I felt that I was restricted really was when I was at Special Forces training with Bobby at the very end of the film. But during basic training and everything leading up to that, they allowed me to do whatever I felt was necessary for the film.