Filmmakers highlight post-traumatic stress disorder

Two days left to make contributions toward funding

What started out as an intense drama in a police station has evolved into a movie with a message.

Co-writers Scott Cornfield and Erik Colandone, who met when working at the San Jose Police Department, were planning an independent short film that tells the story of one night in an interrogation room. It's being produced by Reel Good Pictures, a production company owned by Cornfield and his partner John Reinert.

Now it turns out that "In the Box" is about a suspect, back from multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, who the detectives begin to realize is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

"We discovered that our real theme – more important than our original story – was that PTSD is another reminder that perhaps we train our warriors for battle but not for peace," Cornfield said.

Police, especially in larger cities, run into a lot of PTSD, he explained.

"It's a form of mental illness and we deal with a lot of mental illness," Cornfield said.

The movie ends with information on where sufferers can get help.

The script for "In the Box" took two years to complete and the men wrote and rewrote as the characters developed.

"In screenwriting it can take a long time to figure out what your story is," Cornfield said.

Then it was more months finding the crew and actors, meanwhile working on funding.

Cornfield, Colandone and Reinert – three guys with a combined 60 years of law enforcement – are seeking support for "In the Box" via, a website that posts art projects for funding, after reviewing the applications. Contributors to "In the Box" receive military ranks, from private all the way to commander in chief, and get gifts including personalized dog tags and DVDs of the film. See the details at

The financial goal is $3,750 and they have until 12:18 a.m. EST July 7 to reach it. If they fall short, they don't get any of the pledged money.

Funds will go mostly toward feeding the 15-member cast and crew, which is also about 15, Cornfield said with a laugh. "Everybody's a volunteer."

Cornfield, who lives in Pleasanton with his wife Sandi, joined the San Jose Police Department in 1980 and two years later was making videos. Throughout the years he has shot everything from weddings to travel videos.

"It started as a hobby then become a job," he said.

He also enrolled in the UCLA Professional Program in Screenwriting to hone those skills and wrote two scripts during the course of study.

"In the Box," at 31 minutes, is long for a short film, Cornfield noted. And there aren't many venues for short films except festivals.

"There are tons of film fests," he said. "We'll pick and choose which to enter."

His "Children of Alcatraz," a one-hour film that combines interviews with subjects who grew up on the prison island with footage from news reels, won Best Documentary of 2005 in the Danville International Children's Film Festival.

Cornfield also placed first a few years ago in the California Independent Film Festival's Iron Filmmaker Contest where he had to create a three-minute film in 24 hours.

Although that was fun, said Cornfield, it is frustrating to create a film that is good but could have been great. He had the luxury of time with "In the Box."

Although this project is serious, Cornfield says his first love is comedy. He did standup while in college and is in an improv troupe called Freedom of Espresso.

"In the Box" begins shooting an Army base scene July 31 at Ford Ord, where his son attends CSU Monterey Bay and whose condo was once base housing. Then it's on to Dublin, where the India Spice House will serve as a convenience store for the film. Bar scenes will be shot at Gallagher's in Dublin for the exterior and the Blue Bar in Livermore for the interior. Goodwill offices in San Jose will serve as the police department set.

"I'm very excited," Cornfield said. "The scariest part was, can we get good actors? We got really good people."

They plan to finish shooting in September. Then there will be the editing and adding original music. His sons Clint and Ty, 23 and 22, are musicians so they may help.

"We're so lucky we can do this. It's an important subject and fun to do," Cornfield said.

He is hoping that someone will pick up the short film and expand it so the message will reach a larger audience. The government is doing more than it's ever done to help those suffering from PTSD, Cornfield said, after statistics showed the rising suicide rate of returning GIs.

"So many people are coming back now after multiple tours," he commented. 'We're hoping the movie will make PTSD more known and lead people to get help."


Like this comment
Posted by Fiscal conservative
a resident of Foothill Farms
on Jul 8, 2011 at 6:26 am

Look, we've got to admit it. A lot of these soldiers go into the Army because they don't want to get a real job. Then they come back and fake ptsd and expect us to pay for their bad decisions and-or phony claims. Now we've got a new entitlement group that does nothing but suck money out of my pocket. Just listen to McNerney talk about his issue. He only cares about the soldiers, not us. I asked him a question about this and he sidestepped it. Coward.

Like this comment
Posted by sandra harrison kay
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 8, 2011 at 10:00 pm

so pleased to see PTSD being featured in this film -i'm a survivor.. 10+ long, hard, years...

new creature today.. but what a journey! my PTSD began in the early 80's -before it was a household name.. went undiagnosed, untreated.. in fact, didn't know what the hell was wrong with me until i happened across a documentary about a veteran with the same symptoms

thrilled they've made the advances they have -but, like so many others things.. we've come a long way, but still have a long way to go

love, prayers, blessings.. for the crew, and the audience..

Like this comment
Posted by Fat Willy
a resident of Foothill Farms
on Jul 9, 2011 at 6:27 am

They don't give out entitlement payouts to fake ptsd-ers in the private sector. We need to get govt out of our lives.

Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Jul 9, 2011 at 10:53 pm

I'm delighted that soldiers that have served the USA in combat zones are eligible for medical and financial assistance. I don't believe that soldiers that return from a war zone are faking their symptoms.

American citizens are entitled to file complaints against soldiers that they believe are faking symptoms for benefits. Unless you can prove your complaint(s), it's best to!

If you the government out of your life, then consider moving to another country.

Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Jul 9, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Correction: If you want the government out of your life, then consider moving to another country. Perhaps the country where your ancestors came from...ta-ta!

Like this comment
Posted by Tom
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 10, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Fiscal conservative, a resident of the Foothill Farms neighborhood

What have you ever done? Except Complain! I bet you were even a draft dodger, what a joke you are! Your pants seem flat.

Like this comment
Posted by fiscal conservative
a resident of Foothill Farms
on Jul 11, 2011 at 7:15 am


You sound like a typical liberal who wants to give my money to the govt to administer any silly cause Big Brother can think of. Back in the days when Americans were tough, we didn't even have the term ptsd. People sometimes came back shell-shocked, but they didn't ask for a govt handout. They suffered in dignity, and their family took care of them.

I was not a draft dodger. I was very willing to go to Vietnam because it was so obviously a war worth losing 56,000 lives over and taking 1 million+ Vietnamese lives. But other priorities dictated that I stay at home and attend to business.

I grew up in poverty, went to Oxford, and am a self-made millionaire. Honest. What can YOU claim to have done beyond coming to the defense of a bunch of fakers who want to lay around and collect a govt check (my tax money) for all of their lives? C'mon Tom. Don't you see the tsunami coming? We're broke. We need individuals to be held accountable for their silly little headaches. We need govts to be responsible with the tax money they steal from you and me. We cannot sustain ptsd-types; they are unfunded liabilities who do not contribute to value-added activity. Get WITH it, Tom.

Like this comment
Posted by David
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jul 12, 2011 at 10:27 am

I agree with the fiscal conservative to a degree. Many people out there (soldiers, Police Officers etc.) fake their symptoms in order to get a free check. My wife is a Psycology Major and plenty of studies have documented phychyrotists being faked out by patients. I have worked as a Law Enforcement Oficer for 22 years and prior to that served in the Military in the Special Forces. I have seen the fakers and the real incidents of PTSD.

While I can appreciate the fiscal conservatives passion for the dollar cost, I can say that I have seen unbelievable violence in my 47 years. I watched my mom die when I was 5 and saw over 700 deaths in the military and was on scene for 9 fatal shootings of Police officers, one was a partner killed with an AK-47. I turned out fine, but I have a friend who was destroyed mentally when his partner was slain by a shotgun at point blank range in front of him.

PTSD is real, Ive seen it. We should spend money on this, but not on the 20 million illegals sucking the life out of California and the United States. For that matter, $9 billion gets spent on them annually in California alone. If you want to get mad about spending, then sink your teeth into that, and not into this. Besides, do you know who's faking and who's not?

Like this comment
Posted by fiscal conservative
a resident of Foothill Farms
on Jul 13, 2011 at 7:08 am

David asks, "do you know who's faking and who's not?" No, I don't. That's my point. Why spend my money on such an uncertain thing when so many are faking it? It's like the illegal immigrants. Some of them claim they must make the perilous journey here in order to support their families who would otherwise starve. Why should I believe them? They're all blood suckers. Trouble is, I don't like financing 20+ thousand armed border patrol agents to sit in their SUV's along the border staring at dirt. Besides, I employ a lot of illegal immigrants myself. And I like low prices for produce at the supermarket. But we've got to hate something so as to be able to sink our teeth into some kind of hate target, right? It's easy to do when all one cares about, like me, is one's own pocketbook. PTSD victims, illegal immigrants, entitlement minority groups -- they're all the same to me. Blood suckers one and all.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Salami, Salami … Baloney
By Tom Cushing | 25 comments | 604 views

Time for new collaboration between city and school district
By Tim Hunt | 2 comments | 476 views