Austin film crew bringing veteran's life to the big screen
A film crew in Austin is chronicling the life of a U.S. Army Veteran who was seriously wounded in Iraq a decade ago.
Staff Sergeant Shilo Harris enlisted after 9/11. “I had two tours in Iraq,” he says. It was during his second tour “On February 19, 2007 we got a call to investigate a possible I.E.D.” Harris was traveling in a Humvee when it hit an I.E.D. “It literally erupted,” he says remembering that day, “700 pounds of explosives went off underneath the vehicle just blew the Humvee apart, shredded the vehicle and killed 3 of my soldiers.
Harris says the team that arrived on scene initially thought Harris was dead. Then another rocket went off. “I managed to get out and I would like to think that it's divine intervention,” he says. The explosion left Staff Sergeant Harris burned over more than 35% of his body. He was in a medically induced coma for 48 days before being flown to Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio. He spent three years in their burn unit recovering. And to date, has had 75 surgeries. “I probably endured some of the most painful moments that somebody could ever imagine,” says Harris.
But out of those moments came the chapter in his story that he has fought hard to tell. “Not everyone can look in the mirror and see scars all over their face and find a blessing in that,” he says, “but it's possible, it is absolutely possible and I am a testament to that.”
Harris is now a motivational speaker and the author of the book Steel Will. And now, he is the subject of an upcoming short film based on the accident and his recovery. “I think it's really fitting that we are shooting this film, right there on my ten year anniversary,” he says, adding, “honestly, I believe it takes about 10 years to really fully overcome this and start realizing that there is a life you can live.”
The crew wrapped filming on Thursday afternoon. “The message we are trying to convey is,” he says about why he’s doing the film, “you can overcome some very extreme odds.”
Not only overcome them, but with a will to survive, as Shilo is proof, thrive. “There are blessings out there. There are better ways to live. There are other ways to live and if they're not living their lives, they need to start living their lives.”
The producers tell Fox 7 they expect to finish the short film up in February. They hope it will lead to a feature length film about Shilo's life.