Tomahawk Pictures: Production company founded by USMC veterans

- The words fearless, dedicated, adaptable, and strategic describe the former active duty military members who are the founders of and collaborators in Tomahawk Pictures.

It all started at The Half King Bar in Chelsea. A writer's group made up of vets formed the production company and leveraged their military experience to produce hard-hitting creative content with powerful impact.

I met up with them to see how they work. So what do they do when they're here?

"Collaborate, really. Aside from ordering brunch and a lot of coffee, a lot of us bring a lot of different materials at different stages and we send it out ahead of time," producer Justine Elena, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, said. "When we get here we kind of talk it through and it really helps us get to that next stage."

That led them to endless hours working at their home office in Harlem, writing, and editing, and on sets producing and directing and filming a slew of original content for a host of clients including commercials for St. Joseph's Health.

Do they feel like being in the military gives you an edge?

"I definitely think being in the military gives us an edge in this business because we were trained a certain way and trained in such tight, small groups that we know teamwork really well, we know communication really well, so we can operate at different levels," co-founder Caleb Wells, a Marine veteran, said. "We can be really brutally honest with everyone and nobody's feelings are hurt. They just understand we're just trying to get to a different place because everybody has a mission-focus mindset that allows them to put the ego aside."

In order to accomplish this new mission, Wells and co-founder Mike Brown keep a warrior-like daily routine. They get up with the sun, make a huge breakfast, make lots of coffee, work out, and then get to business.

Wells told me that he never thought about being a storyteller when he was in the Marines.

"But on a personal level, relating the military to the arts, the ability to endure because a lot of artists have to go through a period of time where you're doing stuff for free, you're spending all of this time moving yourself forward in your career," Wells said. "And the ability to trudge through and hustle for as long as it takes, which is what we did in the military. We operated with equipment that wasn't top notch or with information about missions that wasn't 100 percent. That was our skill, is the ability to take 70 percent of the information and make a decision and go. That relates a lot."

What they also can relate to is becoming a civilian again and feeling the need to fill a hole in their lives. They didn't quite describe it as PTSD, but they said they definitely had issues transitioning back to normal life.

"I think what probably caused the most stress in my life was the loss of purpose. I used to be a Marine and now I come to wherever, I'm this other thing, and it doesn't feel nearly as complete or big or epic," said Brown, a Marine veteran. "I think a lot of it also drove me into wanting to be creative because you're discovering.  You want to write a story and think part of that is trying to have mastery over your own story."

So now they're writing many stories -- some their own, some brought to them -- using what they call "cold-blood efficiency," learned while deployed, to create warm-hearted tales. 

21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox 5 News, has a program that helps mentor veterans after leaving the service. 21CF works with a nonprofit organization called American Corporate Partners.

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