Cast: AJ Johnston, Catherine Mersereau
In “This One Step,” a young Texan veteran and his wife must re-learn the rhythm of their relationship, complicated by lingering PTSD and physical difficulties. Oftentimes, it is bravery on the battlefield that is celebrated, but in this film, we wish to celebrate bravery on the home front and the transition back into civilian life. One common thread which combat vets attribute to their recovery is the teamwork and strength of their relationships. This is why we were passionate about depicting an amputee vet and his strong-willed wife working together as a couple. Each day, they take steps—forward and backward, to re-learn their emotional and physical rhythm. Filming this piece gave us the unique opportunity to get to know a real-life combat veteran whom we cast as the lead. An ex-bull rider an Army paratrooper, he spent four years in the military and one year on tour in Afghanistan before being shot in the knee. It was this man’s first time acting, and he drove 7 hours from his home in Amarillo, TX to Austin, TX to make our shoot possible. “This One Step,” shows how simple, everyday moments such as hiking a hill or dancing the Texan two-step can be huge milestone markers for a military veteran, who is adjusting to a prosthetic leg and overcoming PTSD. It is important to erase the stigma attached to being an amputee and to show veterans suffering from PTSD that they are not alone. As co-directors, we are so inspired by veterans’ personal stories and their families, that we hope they can watch and recognize themselves in this film we’ve created to celebrate their journey.
The RAY SISTERS, comprised of co-directors and sisters Austin & Westin Ray, grew up on an aquaculture farm on the Californian/Mexican border. When they weren’t picking up tarantulas, they were inventing stories of time travel to Ancient Egypt. Collaborating together, the RAY SISTERS have shot documentaries in Iceland, North Africa, and the Mediterranean. Their narrative films and branded content have won awards at Austin Film Festival, Savannah Film Festival, HBO, Moët & Chandon, & Directors Guild of America. In addition to their co-directing work, Westin has produced music videos for Interscope and short films that have appeared on VICE, Vimeo Staff Picks, and Short of the Week. Austin, as a film music composer, has scored films that have won Student Academy Awards and BAFTAs, premiered at Telluride Film Festival, and commercials for BMW and United Nations. They were recently selected for SHOOT Magazine’s 2019 New Directors Showcase, sponsored by the DGA. The RAY SISTERS currently work as a film/commercial co-directors/cinematographers.
This selection of shorts include projects that are made by or star military / veterans and local films.