A SOLDIER-turned-filmmaker has picked up his first awards nomination for his work shining a light on the challenges veterans face adjusting to life on ‘civvy street’.
Aaron Sayers’ feature-length programme, Chosen Men, has been nominated for Best Documentary at this year’s National Film Awards.
It is the 37-year-old’s first nomination for his directorial debut, which reveals the true life stories of soldiers after they leave the military.
Aaron’s work will face-off against programmes by news legend Sir Trevor McDonald and renowned natural history expert, Sir David Attenborough and his smash-hit BBC documentary Dynasty.
Aaron, of Brompton Road, Southsea, said: ‘I couldn’t believe it when I was told. It was incredible to be nominated alongside David Attenborough.
‘The other nominations are all really big hits from the past year. So to have my small film up there with them is amazing.’
Aaron’s features the views of almost 30 soldiers who speak candidly of their experience of becoming accepted into the civilian world.
Among them include SAS legend and author Andy McNab, who supported Aaron’s project.
Segments of the documentary were filmed around the Portsmouth area, including on Thorney Island.
Aaron said he was one of the ‘lucky few’ veterans able to start a new career after their life in the military.
The former Lance Corporal served for four-and-a-half years in the army, after joining at 16, and completed tours in Kosovo and Bosnia with the Royal Green Jackets.
However, after he left the army, he went to the University of Portsmouth to study film production, eventually setting up his own production company, Edengate Pictures soon after completing his degree.
‘I wanted to tell the stories of what happens to soldiers when they leave and have to make a new identity for themselves while still celebrating the camaraderie of service,’ he said.
‘I wanted to do this project because I felt it was something that wasn’t really being talked about enough.
‘You hear about guys joining the army and seeing soldiers being soldiers on the TV but you don’t see the reality of what it’s like to adjust when you live.
‘Their story doesn’t end on the battlefield.’
The winners of the awards will be announced at a swanky do in London on March 27.
The public can now vote on their favourites to win. Aaron hopes the people of Portsmouth will support his effort.
For details on how to vote, see www.nationalfilmawards.org