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Civil War Reenactors
Discussion Forum


59. "Gods and Generals, here we go again"
Dear Bob Tolar, Dennis Frye, Don Warlick, Dana Heim and Company,


Home of the FREE, land of the Brave(s).

Boy does this project bring new meaning to that phrase.


A Society that doesn't learn from the mistakes is doomed to repeat them!

As a professional reenactor coordinator, with many years of experience (see the article I wrote that was published in Civil War News in 1992 at here), I am amazed and distressed by what I am seeing here AGAIN. Does anyone, reenactors or production, remember "Gettysburg" the movie? Terrible fake beards and farb hats on principal actors, missed reenactor quotas, troops quitting because of changes in the deal, some groups were paid (not just the core group) while others weren't, lots of theatrical license, never received books, t-shirts and medals, etc.


Is $1,000,000.00 a good deal?

A donation of $1,000,000.00 for preservation? That is a very generous gesture, but has nothing to do with using slave labor. People who work on a movie set are not free to do anything that they want, they are expected to do what they are told to do.


Do the math!

OK, so what if there aren't 1,000 reenactors a day for 60 days? Try these figures:

3,500 reenactors for 3 days @ $150.00 for 8 hours is $1,575,000.00, if there is no overtime.

2,000 reenactors for 5 days @ $150.00 for 8 hours is $1,500,000.00, if there is no overtime.

350 reenactors for 60 days @ $150.00 for 8 hours is $3,150,000.00, if there is no overtime.

If you add the 350 reenactors for 60 days to the 3,500 reenactors for 3 days (major battle scenes) the total comes out to $4,725,000.00.


If none of these figures work for you give me the daily figures for scheduled reenactors and I will work up the actual numbers.


Why did I choose $150.00 for 8 hours? Because I just finished coordinating a shoot that paid that for Civil War, Indian Wars and World War One Reenactors. The Revolutionary War Reenactors made $200.00 for 8 hours. Overtime was time and a half for the 9th and 10th hour and double time for the 12th hour on. The production company even said that our rate was cheaper than they could do it on their own. (Wardrobe, prop and weapons rental; PLUS extra casting, wardrobe, prop and weapons production crew.)


What others are paid!

On all the projects that I have coordinated for the last several years the dis-mounted reenactors made $150.00 per day (some were flat rate. i.e.: no overtime) and mounted reenactors made $250.00 per day (some were flat rate. i.e.: no overtime).


Who ALL is supporting this historic preservation!

Also, are Dennis Frye, Don Warlick and Dana Heim donating their time for free to this project to promote historic preservation? After all if these people as so incompetent that they can't convince a production company that reenactors are worth money, how much are they worth.


Who gets the benefit and who bears the brunt!

How about this: Pay the reenactors a decent wage (at LEAST $100.00 per day for dis-mounted) and let them donate to historic preservation. Then they get the recognition and tax deduction for the donation.



You could accumulate the pay at a decent wage and then instead of writing a check to each individual reenactor, you could donate his accumulated earnings IN HIS name to historic preservation.


Or, even better

Let each reenactor decide whether he wants and can afford to donate all or part of his earning to historic preservation. Add it as a deduction to the payroll, allowing each reenactor to donate some percentage of his pay to historic preservation in 10% increments. THINK about it, perhaps all the reenactors would donate their whole payroll to it. That could be $3,000,000.00 to 6,000,000.00 depending on the number of reenactor (man) hours and their pay rate.


Other issues:


Workmen's Comp

Is the production company paying workman's compensation based on the reenactors $0.00 pay rate? If it does then if a reenactor gets permanently or even temporarily disabled on this shoot he will be able to collect 60% of NOTHING.


Bulldozing Brandy Station

Wasn't Don Warlick involved with the development project that bulldozed a portion of Brandy Station? How does that fit in with Historic Preservation???


Offset costs, i.e.: Don't Pay to Work!

Shouldn't the reenactors have income to offset their expenses and time off work, not to mention their investment in uniforms and equipment?


Valueless Reenactors?

Are the reenactors worth LESS than the extras that you will undoubtedly hire for $50.00 per day for non-union or $90.00 per day for SAG extras? Yet they don't bring any uniforms or equipment. Aren't the reenactors worth something more than extras, yet less than the SAG actors.


Will Work For Food!

If the food or other conditions are sub-standard, why should the production company improve them for people who "Will Work For Food".


Work for free, put someone else out of work!

How do the reenactors (not just those that worked on the film, but all their brother reenactors who didn't) explain to all the movie extras that will not work on this project to earn their daily living, why they were displaced by reenactors for free. Believe it or not there are people that earn their living working as extras on films.


Martin Sheen, Noble Champion?

Will Martin Sheen be General R. E. Lee on this project? How can he support all the noble causes, including boycotting grapes because of the low wages of farm workers, and then work on a project that uses voluntary slave labor.


Historically Correct or Not!

Will the reenactors have final edit control so that they can have any inaccurate historic representations removed from the film, or could they actually wind up participating in a less than historical film and do it for free. Many would call someone that sells out his ethics for money a movie whore (and do). But what is a reenactor that intentionally or accidentally participates in a less than historical film for free (a RUBE (Sucker)??)?

Terrance C. Leavey
CEO and Reenactor Coordinator
Leavey Foundation for Historic Preservation, Inc.