The Hun is a short film drama set in the trenches during the late stages of WWI. It follows a young American soldier who has just become his company’s new message runner. Facing imminent German advances, the men mentally prepare for the onslaught. The Hun portrays metaphorical themes in the fog of war through storytelling and myth. Written and directed by Marine Corps veteran, Tyler Mendelson, this short film aims to shed light on a worldwide conflict during its one-hundred-year anniversary that is sadly much forgotten.
Mendelson has always had a keen interest in war history. Growing up with war movies, it seemed as if there was only ever WWII and Vietnam. On the anniversary of the end of WWI, Tyler realized how underrepresented the conflict is in modern cinema and television, and how little people today know about the importance of this world-altering event. The Hun brings awareness to the horrors those young men endured, due to the then new and deadly technological advancements, and trench warfare.
As an American filmmaker and war veteran himself, Tyler wanted to tell an American story, about the young doughboys who traveled to Europe to fight The Hun – the nickname given to German soldiers. Tyler seeks to provide them with a voice of remembrance and thanks. While offering a historical perspective, the film also delves into urban legends and visual metaphor. The doughboys may be fighting the Germans, but the real terror, the actual enemy, is death.
As a film student, Tyler naturally turned to online crowdfunding to raise money for the film. The response to his heartfelt mission was tremendous, and The Hun was successfully funded on Kickstarter, reaching $23,806; passing its goal of $23,000.
“It was a time of the alliance system, massive changes in world empires, and a startlingly fast-paced upgrade in technology and innovation. The world was suddenly swept up into an enormous conflict that left over 41 million casualties in its wake. Through research about all the fascinating details, I became more enthralled by the more personal stories. Behind every rifle, inside every tank, airplane, and ship, were ordinary people. Reading about the horrors they went through is what pushed me towards creating The Hun. It is the centennial: The one-hundred-year anniversary of the war, and the later part, including American involvement. Although the US became involved at the tail-end of the war, they played a massive role in its outcome. During my research, I watched as many WWI films as I could to see what was out there. I found they are much less centered on American soldiers, as most detail the French, British, and German forces. While they are just as important to cover, I felt that an American story was deserved.
I always love hearing urban legends, and there are some very interesting ones involving war. I remember being on a post with buddies throughout my time in the Marines, talking about everything from ghosts to the meaning of life. In wanting to tell a human story, I thought about what kind of stories the doughboys in the trenches might have told. Coincidentally, throughout my research, I found out that the Huns had battled the Romans 1,467 years earlier in the same region. And what were the Germans nicknamed in WWI? The Hun. Nicknames of the enemy are typical in war. It creates another identity for them, especially one with negative connotations, making them the “Other,” and removing their humanity.
I wanted this film to challenge that “Othering” and show that both sides were just young men serving their country, and quickly came to the reality of how brutal the war was. WWI was in many ways, an unnecessary, and pointless conflict. The Hun metaphorically depicts the real enemy to be death – which is always nearby. I hope in telling this short, fictional story it will make people more interested in the actual war, and understand the kind of horrors these young men faced. I hope to honor their memory and keep it alive, for a hundred more years, and many more after.
The Hun was made possible by our dedicated Kickstarter supporters, and an amazing cast and crew. I appreciate their faith in me and my creative vision.”
The Hun on Facebook