Thursday, April 24, 2014
At 8.1 million YouTube views and counting, USN Films of Brunswick is one hot producer of ultra-violent videos.
A young actor aims a weapon at two others in this screen image of a scene from “The Extraction,” one of more than two dozen violent videos produced by USN Films of Brunswick.
Screen grab from Web
A scene from “The Extraction” demonstrates a muzzle flash, one of the “new effects” the owner of USN Films – a Brunswick High School student – boasts about having learned since 2010.
Screen grab from Web
USN YOUTUBE CHANNEL
Due to the graphic violence depicted in the videos, viewer discretion is advised.
YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/usnfilms
We're talking roving packs of teenage boys, armed to the teeth with what look like fully automatic assault weapons.
We're talking carefully coordinated assaults, complete with real explosions and smoke bombs and the occasional point-blank shot to the head.
We're even talking blood spatter so realistic-looking you'd swear that kid on the ground -- just outside the entrance to the local library, no less -- will never draw another breath.
So is the town of Brunswick, where on Friday police corralled 15 kids at Brunswick High School and served them with criminal trespass warnings for turning their hometown into, quite literally, a horror show.
"I have to tell you, in all honesty, I'm still aghast at it," said Elisabeth Doucett, director of Brunswick's Curtis Memorial Library, after watching "The Biohazard: Part 1" for the first time Friday morning. "I was more than a little shocked."
She had good reason: Half of the 8-minute, 33-second video was shot without Doucett's knowledge inside her library -- including a scene where two zombie-like teens take shots to the head just outside the main entrance.
That video alone has received just under one million hits on USN Films' YouTube channel.
Then there's "The Extraction," an equally graphic production that's fast approaching 200,000 YouTube views. It was shot on the grounds of the former Brunswick Naval Air Station, now known as Brunswick Landing.
That was news last week to the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, which shares control of the 3,200-acre site with the U.S. Navy.
"It's pretty disturbing, actually," said Steve Levesque, the authority's executive director, after perusing the more than two dozen USN Films videos now posted on the Internet. "It's something we would never support."
So how did as many as 20 kids (the number police have identified so far) spend the last two years mowing each other down in broad daylight with gas-powered, pellet-shooting Airsoft weapons without someone noticing?
And where, as they paint themselves with fake blood and hang out the doors of a speeding minivan with guns blazing, are their parents?
Even better question.
And why would they spend so much time, money and effort staging these productions in the first place?
Maybe for fun -- and maybe for money:
USN Films' oft-visited YouTube channel is draped with advertising. And in a recent Twitter feed, a Brunswick High School student who identifies himself as the "owner" of the video operation complained, "Pumped to pay $8,249.45 in taxes for 2012 to the Feds."
I first heard about USN Films last week when a reader emailed me a link to the videos. She noted they're being produced in Brunswick -- one even includes an exterior shot of Brunswick High School -- and wondered, "Think their parents and teachers know this is going on?"
According to its website, USN Films (the USN stands for U.S. Navy) has been posting the videos since late 2010.
"Since then, I've learned new techniques and effects to use in my videos," boasts USN Films' owner, an honor-roll student who uses his real name. "I can do muzzle flashes, bullet hits, explosions, 3D aircraft, cloning, and much more."
Everyone on the film crew, according to the website, is in high school. And while the weapons aren't real, the goal is clearly to persuade viewers that actual bullets are flying.
"We use Airsoft guns in our videos. We get them on the Internet from Evike and Airsoft GI," wrote the owner. "I add in special effects to make it look like the guns are really shooting."
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