Military drama SIX reflects current geopolitcal climate

Retired US Navy SEAL Mitchell Hall shares with Imagine TV Network about the culture of the SEALs and his involvement in HISTORY's new drama SIX.

Words by Elaine Xu

Inspired by the missions of the US Navy SEAL Team Six, HISTORY's new drama promises to capture the authenticity of the elite Special Operations unit and its inner workings. The eight-episode drama follows SEAL Team Six troop leader Richard “Rip” Taggart (Walton Goggins), who makes a question decision while on a mission in Afghanistan. Later, when he is captured by militant Islamic group Boko Haram, his former team brothers have to put aside their differences and rescue their former troop leader.

Image credit: HISTORY

Mitchell Hall, a retired US Navy SEAL who served in the Navy for 21 years, is the drama's producer and technical advisor. Touching on the notions of realism and authenticity, Hall remarks that the drama has both, but it does not reveal the tactics, techniques and procedures of actual missions.

"The missions that you see throughout the show are inspired by real missions, out of respect for the operators that are still out there doing stuff even today," he explains. After creating a believable geopolitical climate, which is based on current political developments, Hall said they considered how the Special Operations unit would respond to issues about terrorism.

The drama is based on how and why the SEALS do what they do, but it is not a reflection of real missions. "We don't want to tip our enemies off on how things are done, so we had to ride a very fine line here," he adds.

To prepare the cast for the mental, emotional and physical intensity of their role, they were put through a similar 10-day training that a new Navy SEAL would encounter. (In case anyone was wondering, it is important to note here that the SEALs were put through months of training, not 10-days.) The first five days was focused on physical training whereas the next five days were focused on tactical skills, such as weapons training.

Providing an analogy, Hall says, "[It was] equivalent to throwing a bunch of eggs on the wall, and see which ones didn't break." The training was not so much to 'toughen' the cast but to "put them through this crucible" so that they could capture the mindset and attitude of the SEALs.

Elaborating, he says, "We have a perfectionistic and a very unforgiving culture in the SEAL teams. It's a very hardworking culture; it demands a lot out of you." Through the 10-day training, he was banking for them to form a tight bond with each other and draw on their experiences during the training to portray their character.

Interestingly, it was not the operational aspects of the SEALs that was the most challenging to translate to screen. Hall shares that the drama strikes a balance between the operational life and home life. The reality of film scheduling is such that combat scenes were sometimes scheduled to be filmed after home scenes. Imagine this: the cast is portraying the role of a doting father and loving husband for half a day, an hour later, he is filming combat scenes. "It was this contrast that challenged the cast," he explains.

SIX broadcasts on HISTORY (StarHub Channel 401) every Thursday at 11pm (same day telecast as the US).

 

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