My Journal

Here's a sporadic attempt to chronicle the making of the movie. Entries are in reverse chronological order.

9/11/2002 Put the preliminary site about this idea online.

The last few days I've been thinking about religious content, specifically prayers. Originally I was going to just mention them, but have them be pretty innocuous. I've come to the conclusion, however, that they are much too important to gloss over, and so I will be much more overt in how I portray them. Most Americans are still not willing to admit that this is, at its base, a religious war. We're supposed to be 'above' that, somehow, these days. But the extremists who committed and planned these acts don't suffer from this delusion at all. Nor did the people on Flight 93. And I don't think the President did either.

8/22/2002 I don't have a TV, and I don't get the paper. The fact that I was in a hotel was the only reason I learned so much about what happened on 9/11. (And normally I don't turn on the TV in hotels either. I hadn't done so until mid-morning on September 11.) After we finally drove home, other than looking on the web a bit for a few more weeks to see what had been learned about those who did this, and hearing the occasional talk show on the radio about the topic, I didn't really hear much more about what happened. The point is that my impression about what happened on Flight 93 was formed almost exclusively from that first week. Today at lunch I noticed a day-old, discarded newspaper, with a story on Flight 93 folded so it was on top. I decided to read it. I learned a few things. For instance, the last words of the one of the passengers (Todd Beamer) on the airplane were "Let's roll."

Earlier I must have heard, but in the intervening year forgot some of the other details - nothing that would be hard to look up - that were also included in the story: Flight 93 was a Boeing 757, it crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, (population 245) and just over the hill from the crash was a yellow brick school where all 500 students in the area attended. How differently we would view the heroes if they had been two or three seconds later in bringing down the airplane.

8/17/2002 I start planning the website for the movie. I've been thinking about the plot for almost a year, but haven't written down a single line before today. I've thought about the models I'll need to build, and how to film it, but haven't taken out a single brick. I've decided to make the cinematography as realistic as possible, keeping lighting and camera movements in mind at all times.
 9/11/2001 I was in San Jose with my wife and son. My wife was at a conference, and my son and I came along to enjoy a bit of a vacation. On September 11th, while my wife was in various meetings, my son and I went to a restaurant outside of the hotel for breakfast. On our way back I saw a man putting pamphlets under the windshield wipers of cars. I tried to steer clear of him, but he approached me anyway, and spoke. "How secure are we today? We've rejected the Lord in this land, and today He's shown us what His judgment one day might be like." I asked him what he meant, and he told me that that morning he'd seen the news that an airplane had crashed into one tower of the World Trade Center. When a short while later, another airplane crashed into the other tower, he knew what he had to do. Immediately he went out to start telling people about the Lord. I admired him for two reasons: first, his convictions were very strong, and he acted on them immediately. Second, he didn't stay stuck to the TV the rest of the day, waiting to see what else had happened. He had heard from others that the buildings had collapsed, and that the Pentagon had also been attacked, but he didn't know the details. He didn't think it important to get every last 'breaking news item'.

I have to admit that I didn't have the same character - I rushed back to the hotel and was stuck to the set for the rest of the day, and in fact, most of the week. But by then I had some inkling of doing an account of what happened on the heroes' plane.