Interview with John ‘TIG’ Tiegen and Mark ‘OZ’ Geist ~ the real-life heroes behind the TRUE STORY hitting the BIG SCREEN 1/5/2015 – Paramount’s New Film – 13 Hours

13-Hours-Poster2Mark Geist and John Tiegen Photo

John “Tig” Tiegen and Mark “Oz” Geist ~ are two of the elite group of former military soldiers, turned contractors, who attempted to save Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, and others, inside the consulate and in the CIA Annex in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012 ~ these man, and their comrades who returned with them ~and those who sadly did not – are TRUE AMERICAN HEROES ~ and I am humbled by the fact that I get to give you a glimpse into their lives, and the making of their TRUE STORY ~ Paramount’s 13 HOURS:

Q: HAVE YOU HAD TO CHANCE TO VISIT ST. LOUIS BEFORE?:

TIG: No, this is my first time in St. Louis – and so far, I’ve only gotten to look outside my window…

OZ: No, but I did see the place that Guy Fieri owns ~ The Shaved Duck~ getting here, might want to check it out…

 

Q: CAN YOU GIVE US A LITTLE BACKGROUND ON HOW YOU ENDED UP IN BENGAZI?

TIG: I did 4 years in the Marine Corp, actually got out and did heating and air-conditioning for a couple years, and then got into contracting in 2003, and headed over to Benghazi, and after that adventure, did 2 more tours after that.

OZ: Joined the Marine Corp in 1984 – in for about 12 years, and then was a police officer for 6 years, 3 of that was as Chief of Police in small town with 460 people, which was nice with the one-on-one interaction with people instead of all the craziness. Then I started my own business with bounty hunting and bail-bonds, and then when the war kicked off, I went into contracting and did that until I got blown up in 2012…

 

Q: WHY DID YOU DECIDE THAT YOU WANTED TO WRITE A BOOK WITH MITCHELL ZUCKOFF ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE?

 TIG: The biggest thing was that the Politics of it all took over the story…the poor guys we lost weren’t being honored…it just became a game of political gain for both the left and right…I went back two more times, hoping that the real story would finally get out there of what we do…and why we lost those 4 guys and the sacrifices that they made. The truth had to be told…

OZ: We didn’t really want to write a book, that wasn’t who we were, until it got high-jacked with all the politics – we wanted to honor those we lost, because NO ONE WAS. We wanted to get the REAL STORY out there, as it just wasn’t being told…and that was it, because it wasn’t being told…

 

Q: WAS THERE ANY HESITATION IN WANTED TO TURN THIS STORY INTO A FILM?

TIG: Yes, for all of us, because when Hollywood takes a story sometimes they turn it into something else…yes, there is going to be liberties that they are going take to make it entertaining, but we wanted to make sure that the story was being told right…and we were there to make sure that is what happened…

 

Q: WHAT WAS IT LIKE WORKING WITH MICHAEL BAY?

TIG: Well, we had to kick him in the butt a couple of times…just kidding…IT WAS AWESOME, especially being on set with him and watching him work, it was very intense…

OZ: But he wanted to get it right…that was the one thing that impressed me from the start. As John said, of course they are going to take some theatrical liberties, because you have to condense 13 hours into 2, but in doing so, he did that in a way that you don’t loose the story. You don’t loose the true essence of honor and sacrifice in those who lost their lives. Paramount believed in the book enough, that they gave us this platform to tell this story to so many more people…

 

Q: DO YOU FEEL THAT THIS FILM IS CAPTURING THE TRUE STORY THAT WAS NEVER TOLD ~ Like the trailer alludes to?:

OZ: Yes, I don’t have a filter…I say what’s on my mind, it doesn’t matter to who..Michael Bay and Paramount knew that we wouldn’t be pleased if that wasn’t the case. They asked us about the set, and each actor who took on playing each of us came to us to give them our background, and started learning about us, not just how to carry a gun…they wanted to know about our families, so in actually, they became each of us…

 

Q: DO YOU ANTICIPATE INTERACTION WITH TERRORISTS WHEN YOU TAKE ON THE POSITION AS A CONTRACTOR??

TIG: Well, you expect it with whom you are working for, and with this kind of work, or anywhere you are, like in Iraq or Afghanistan – these types of people are always there…

OZ: Well, this wasn’t our first rodeo, in 10 years of contracting; this isn’t the first time that something like this has happened…

TIG: It was just the first time in 30 years that we lost an ambassador…

OZ: And it isn’t’ like me to be in front of the camera, there are maybe 10 photos of me over the last 20 years, but then when this became so political from both sides, I think that the people deserve to know what contractors do…all the positives, not always the negatives of what we do…and what the TRUE STORY was that night…

 

Q: TELL ME ABOUT THE ACTORS THAT PLAYED YOU ON SCREEN ~ WHAT DID THEY BRING TO THE MAKING OF THIS FILM THAT WAS IMPORTANT TO YOU?

TIG: They brought a lot of dedication ~ especially when we were on set with them…working on our movements, etc. Even though they had Seals train them, which was all wrong ~ ha-ha!!

OZ: Max Martini plays me ~ and for me, it was the little things, like the mannerisms he wanted to pick up from us; make it that much more real, gives it more authenticity as they truly became us…

 

Q: WERE YOU ON SET FOR THE ENTIRE DURATION OF THIS FILM?

TIG: NO, I don’t think we could have handled that

 

Q: ARE THEIR PERSONAL TIDBITS WITHIN THE STORY TOO?

OZ: We haven’t seen all of it yet, but just little interactions that happened between us that night at the Annex, they are in there. When they show you interactions back home, with Jack and his kids…that’s REAL! We all had small children at the time, or kids that were all under the age of 10 ~ and most of us had been contractors for 10 years or more. So all the kids have been raised with us leaving…so what you see in the film is typical of all of us, seeing the kids ask us “Cant’ you find something to do back home Daddy?…”

TIG: Ditto….

 

Q: WITH YOU SAYING THAT IT HAS BEEN TURNED TO POLITICS, and IT HAS..IS THERE ANYONE IN POLITICS THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO SIT DOWN AND TALK WITH, and EXPLAIN EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED…or have you had that opportunity already??

OZ: We have testified to the House Intelligence Sub committee, and to the special committee that Trey Gowdy headed up ~ I think that any other politician has probably read what we said and I suggest that before anyone passes judgment on this movie, they see it ~ it may just give some light to exactly what happened…

 

Q: IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE ABOUT THIS FILM??

OZ: I think the biggest thing for me is that, no matter what side of the political fence you sit on, don’t make your decision based on what you’ve heard through the political aspects of this situation. Come see the movie, and base your decision on what is in this film ~ and not from any preconceived notions. We have talked about the book for over a year now ~ and when you mention Benghazi, everyone thinks its about Hillary ~ it’s against Hillary – and no, it’s not about Hillary at all – This film is about the lives we live as contractors, our interaction with our families ~ it’s the TRUE STORY OF WHAT HAPPENED THAT NIGHT. My wife and I started a non-profit for the families of contractors ~ SHADOW WARRIORS PROJECT – its to support the over 3500-5,000 contractors who have been killed working as contractors and for the close to 30,000 who have been injured. In 2013, there were more contractors killed than soldiers. This film is about the men who serve their country even when they are no longer active duty, because they want to continue to serve their country in this capacity.

 

YOU CAN CATCH THE AUDIO OF THE REVIEW HERE TOO: