MILITARY MATTERS: Movie star and filmmaker deliver faith on the big screen in new Army story

Updated: Mar. 15, 2021 at 3:55 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Almost two years after “My Brother’s Keeper” was shot in Columbus, it’s hitting theaters on Friday, March 19. The man behind the film, who wrote and executive produced it, is a retired U.S. Army infantry Officer who lives in Phenix City.

“Even when I was in the military, that was where I was learning how to write film, I wrote my very first screenplay as a young 2nd Lt. in Germany in 1991,” filmmaker and military veteran Ty Manns said.

After 24 years in the Army, Ty Manns found a new career: making movies. His latest project is a film he wrote and executive produced: “My Brothers Keeper,” which was shot in Columbus and is being released in select theaters this month.

“This is a story somewhat based on my father’s experience when he returned home from Vietnam,” he told us.

“The movie does focus on the struggles he has with PTSD, but then there’s also the struggle of faith,” actor and star of “My Brothers Keeper,” T.C. Stallings said.

Actor T.C. Stalling, who has been in 22 films, plays the lead character in “My Brother’s Keeper.” He is not a military veteran, but did extensive research on PTSD for his role as decorated war hero Sgt. 1st Class Travis Fox.

“That’s how I got some of the mannerisms I would show, listen to soldiers talk about how [PTSD] felt, what their dreams were like. You listen to some of the people, real people, and you just want to do it justice,” Stallings said.

Stallings also said having a filmmaker who has served our country helped make the military parts of the movie authentic. Manns admits it was emotional at times on the movie set because it hit close to home. He was 10 years old when his father came home from war and it got so bad that their mom packed up the kids and left.

“We watched his lifestyle, we saw it spiraling out of control,” Manns said about his father back from war. “They couldn’t afford professional counseling, so they went to see the pastor.”

His dad, a war hero, eventually became a pastor himself. Manns said that turn to God is a key part of his latest film.

“The faith had to be [in the film] because it was the faith that saved our family years ago,” Manns added. “As a man of faith, what I walk by every single day of my life, I look at [Travis, the main character in the new movie] as a guy I’d like to lead to the Lord,” Stallings said.

Stallings, who calls this his most challenging role, hopes it brings light to the struggle. His road has not been easy either. He went from playing professional football in the Arena, Europe and Canadian leagues to working hard to get on the big screen in faith-based movies like “Courageous” and “War Room.”

“Giving up everything, coming out to L.A. with one goal in mind: to rise to the top without compromising my faith,” Stallings told us.

It’s the same for Manns, who tries not to make preachy movies but wants to be a storyteller, sometimes about the military. He retired from the Army in 2003. He and his wife, a fellow veteran, are now proud of their sons: a 2nd Lt. in the Marine Corps, while the other is finishing college, then being commissioned in the Army.

“My father served, me and my brother served, so now we have a 3rd generation of people in the family putting on a uniform and serving,” Manns said.

To find out more about their new movie and both their journeys, click here to hear our full interviews with Stallings and Manns, on the latest episode of “Run The Race.”

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