Days after U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl pleaded guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, Blumhouse Television and military media brand We Are The Mighty are unveiling plans to produce Searching for Bergdahl, a documentary about the soldiers involved in the nearly five-year (1,797 day) search for the missing sergeant — one of the largest manhunts in military history – employing more resources than even the search for Osama Bin Laden.
Bergdahl walked off his base in Afghanistan in June 2009. He was captured by the Taliban and held prisoner until May 2014 when he was exchanged for five Taliban prisoners who were being held in Guantanamo Bay. Even as then-President Barack Obama announced Bergdahl’s release in a Rose Garden ceremony, reports about him possibly deserting his post were being widely circulated. He was eventually charged, and after pleading guilty, he will be sentenced on Oct. 23, with the misbehavior and desertion charges carrying penalties of up to life in prison and five years, respectively.
“Since Bergdahl pleaded guilty, there has been an outpouring of soldiers involved in the search who are ready to tell their stories. We are thrilled to be joining forces with We Are The Mighty to capture their side of the story and the profound impact this manhunt had on their lives and those of their families,” said Blumhouse Television co-Presidents, Marci Wiseman and Jeremy Gold.
Set to direct the documentary, chronicling the search, is former Army combat videographer and Emmy award winner Robert Ham who was assigned to the same unit as Bergdahl and witnessed the first hours, days, and months of the search.
“I am excited to partner with Blumhouse to work on a story that, for me, started on a base in Afghanistan in 2009 when I heard: ‘we’ve lost a soldier,’” Ham said. “As a combat cameraman, I served alongside so many other soldiers who gave everything they had to look for him. Now, as a filmmaker it is time to tell our side of the story. Everyone has been talking about Bergdahl; why did he do it, what was his motivation, who is this guy? But I’ve said for years he is not the story. The story is about the men and women who looked for him even after knowing he walked off his base willingly. That’s what it means to be a soldier and that story has never been told until now.”
The search for Bergdahl involved a large number of troops, several of whom got seriously injured during the missions, including Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Mark Allen, who in 2009 was shot in the head searching for Bergdahl, leaving him confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak; and Navy SEAL Jimmy Hatch, who was shot in the leg on another search the next day, leaving him with a permanent limp.
Ham is an award-winning documentarian who in 2007 joined the Army as a combat filmmaker. During his military service, he earned two Emmys and three DOD Military Videographer of the Year awards.
Producing the documentary are Oscar, Grammy, and Emmy winning documentary filmmaker James Moll (The Last Days) whose most recent film Obey Giant premieres on Hulu in November, and former MTV Networks executive David Gale, Co-Founder and CEO of We Are the Mighty, multi-platform media brand engaging America’s military. Producing for Blumhouse is the company’s founder Jason Blum, Wiseman, Gold and Mary Lisio.
Blumhouse Television’s documentary credits include the Emmy-winning HBO series The Jinx and How to Dance in Ohio, which, along with The Jinx, received a Peabody award. The company which, earlier this year, with funding from ITV, launched as an independent studio, also has Secure and Hold, a limited series for Showtime with Tom McCarthy writing and executive producing, based on journalist Gabriel Sherman’s reporting on former Fox News chief, Roger Ailes; Sharp Objects, a series from Marti Noxon and Gillian Flynn for HBO based on Flynn’s best-selling novel of the same name and starring Amy Adams, with Jean-Marc Valle directing; and The Purge, from writer/director/producer James DeMonaco based on the wildly popular film franchise for USA and Syfy.
Bowe Bergdahl was the subject of the second season of Serial, the Peabody Award-winning podcast that spun off from This American Life. The Hurt Locker duo of Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal have been working on a movie about the controversial sergeant, with many of the tapes Boal had made interviewing Bergdahl used in Serial.