Tattooed Under Fire

About the documentary:

"Tattooed Under Fire" is a unique, intimate, character-driven portrait of Iraq-bound and returning US soldiers as they go under the tattoo needle: openly professing their pride, sharing their secrets and confessing their fears. The tattoos cross lines of gender, class, and political affinity revealing the inner lives of young men and women as they live through the horrors of the Iraq war.

The film’s narrative moves from the early expectations and excitement of 18 and 20 year-olds through cynicism and anger to a sense of a psychological aftermath that will never be erased. Each soldier’s story is an evocative, poignant, and highly personal look at the human and cultural cost of war.

The task:

Fall 2009 – Kristin was brought on board by ITVS to premiere "Tattooed Under Fire" on PBS stations nationally; and to encourage as many broadcasts as possible clustered in and around Veterans Day. Kristin was also responsible for creating a Facebook presence for the film...

The results:

Nearly 50 stations pre-empted what PBS had scheduled in the third hour of prime to give "Tattooed" a "virtual simulcast" on Veterans Day. And there were an additional 100 premiere broadcasts around the country during Veterans Day week.

These 150 Veterans Day Week broadcasts were already confirmed when, with only a handful of days to go before the premieres, the Fort Hood shootings happened, injecting a sad and surreally serendipitous urgency for the film's riveting content and further intensifying the interest in the documentary. A second surge of airdates is expected early in 2010. As one programmer commented, "These guys are serving everyday, we don't need to hold this (film) for a special day of remembrance."

The Facebook fanpage was created initially around the broadcast premieres. It continues to attract new fans daily with its re-visioned emphasis on becoming the largest online repository for images of soldiers' body art – all of which keeps it fresh and maintains interest and visibility for the film project indefinitely....

The reactions:

Thank you so much for all your amazing work on the program. You were absolutely lovely to work with and I hope we have the opportunity to work together in the future again!

Sreedevi Sripathy || Associate Director of Broadcast and Distribution
Independent Television Service [ITVS]

"Thank you for all that you've done to sew wings on this film. Yes you did your job super professionally, but I know you went way beyond the expectations of the job and poured in lots of time following up and extending into social media.... When do you sleep?"

Nancy Schiesari
filmmaker/director, "Tattooed Under Fire"

"Amazing Kristin! Thank you for your wonderful work!"

Robby Fahey
Consulting Production Manager
Independent Television Service [ITVS]

"As an independent producer, Nancy Schiesari has shown her skill in transitioning the original Fort Hood Diaries project into "Tattooed Under Fire". I want to thank her for listening to the many voices providing her with direction to finish this film. I also want to thank the folks from ITVS and with the LINCS project with the assistance in getting this program ready for air. They have provided lots of support to get this program on many of the public television stations. And the good news (because of Kristin) is that many of the public television stations around the country are planning to air the program in November around Veteran’s Day."

Maria Rodriguez
Senior Vice President – Broadcasting

The press reviews:

"Riveting... one of the great unreleased films of the year... unnervingly prescient in its depiction of the stress and anguish of military duty, of the horrors of war even in the relative comforts of home. "

Mary Elizabeth Williams,

"Alternately mirthful, melancholy and macabre, the documentary reveals remarkably intimate, unselfconscious scenes of the young grunts... "Tattooed Under Fire" is airing on PBS stations around the country, and is a must-see."

Prairie Miller, News Blaze

The clients:

The Independent Television Service (

ITVS funds, presents and promotes award-winning documentaries and dramas on public television and cable, innovative new media projects on the Web and the Emmy Award-winning weekly series, Independent Lens on PBS. ITVS, a miracle of public policy created by media activists, citizens and politicians seeking to foster plurality and diversity in public television, brings independently-produced, high-quality public broadcast and new media programs to local, national and international audiences.

The independent producers who create ITVS programs take creative risks, tackle complex issues and express points of view seldom explored in the mass media. ITVS programs enrich the cultural landscape with the voices and visions of underrepresented communities, and reflect the interests and concerns of a diverse society. Since its inception by a historic mandate of Congress in 1991, ITVS programs have revitalized the relationship between the public and public television, bringing TV audiences face-to-face with the lives and concerns of their fellow Americans.

Nancy Schiesari, Producer/Director

Schiesari has directed, produced and been a cinematographer on both broadcast documentaries and narrative features for over twenty years. She produced and directed Hansel Mieth: Vagabond Photographer, a full-length documentary that premiered on PBS Independent Lens. Her other works as director include History Man, a Portrait of Martin Scorsese, for the BBC, and Green Flutes, a feature documentary for England’s Channel 4. Nancy has experience as a Director of Photography on over 30 documentaries and feature films broadcast for England’s Channel 4, BBC, ABC, National Geographic, and PBS.

She was nominated for a 2002 Television Emmy for outstanding cinematography on The Human Face (producer John Cleese). Among her work as cinematographer is Ken Mc Mullen’s 35mm Channel 4 feature film, Partition, Bennie Klain’s PBS documentary, Weaving Worlds- How the West was Spun, and Pratibha Parmar’s and Alice Walker’s, Warrior Marks, Channel 4. She has an MFA from the Royal College of Art in London and is a professor at the University of Texas at Austin where she teaches Filmmaking and Cinematography.

Viewer reactions:

"Saw this last night on PBS. A very moving and heartbreaking story. It really changed and deepened my perspective on U.S. soldiers. Thank you for this education."

Charlotte M

"It's absolutely amazing and had me in tears..."


The website: