Adman Platcow’s doc shows how veterans can be helped

Steve Platcow, CEO/cofounder of the RPM advertising agency, is the executive producer of a film that focuses on how five Afghanistan/Iraq combat veterans struggled to overcome post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTS) through a healing program that allowed them to regain normality in their lives.

The hour long doc, “Not Yet Begun to Fight,” had aired last Veterans Day in major PBS markets, excepting Chicago. “When PBS somewhat realized they dropped the ball, they rescheduled it here,” says Platcow, and it will run Jan. 24 on WTTW/11 at 10 p.m.

“Fight” is the true story of a Marine colonel, a pilot from Montana, who served in the Viet Nam War.  “He came back from Viet Nam in a very troubled state, suffering from PTS,” Platcow relates. 

“He felt he would do harm to himself and others if he could not work through his feelings, and came to realize his only solace came through fly fishing in a river near his home.

“Over time, he felt fly fishing on that Montana river had healed him. He started a charity called ’Warriors and Quiet Waters,’ which raises money to fly veterans from a San Diego veteran’s hospital to Bozeman, where they’re taught fly fishing.

“In the film, the colonel breaks down in tears watching an injured veteran master fly fishing and begin to heal.  ‘This river healed me, and it’s so powerful to see it do the same for others,’” he says.

Steve Platcow, adman/film producer Produced on a budget of “less than $500,000, thanks to in-kind services we received,” says Platcow, the hourlong doc was started in 2010 in collaboration with director/editor Shasta Grenier and producer/director Sabrina Lee. 

Lee is long time friend and collaborator of Platcow, who worked with him on their previous award-winning doc, “Where You From,” about hip hop in rural areas.  

Principal photography in Montana was finished in 2011 and “Not Yet Begun to Fight” debuted on the festival circuit in 2012.  Roger Ebert selected it as one of 12 features shown as his annual film festival in Champaign shortly before he died in April.

For Platcow, “Fight’s” growing acclaim is more than a personal triumph.  It also brought him a better understanding of the tragically shortened life of his grandfather, who survived World War I with severe injuries to his body and soul. 

Returning to civilian life, his grandfather devoted the rest of short life (he died at age 48) to serving mankind.  “He joined a seminary and became a missionary in Africa.  The attic in his home was filled with remarkable artifacts of that African experience,” which Platcow had donated to the Indianapolis Museum of History.

Platcow’s future films will focus on schizophrenia, which  and gun control. His grandfather’s Army friends came back from war to become the muscle behind Prohibition.  “If we don’t do everything we can to integrate veterans into our society, violence could spill on our streets,” he says.

RPM, founded by Platcow, CEO and Mark Malin, president, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Over the years, the agency has become a leader in national casino advertising.