When the phrase PTSD comes up, it’s usually in the context of soldiers returning from war. Rarely do we associate it with the uniformed men and woman who every day of their lives go and serve this nation protecting its citizens domestically, and who must return home each night and try to leave the stresses of their day behind them.
Plain Clothes, a short film by Sam Jaeger, brings the topic of PTSD home in a concise, poignant piece of filmmaking that shines a light on a topic that deserves much more attention.
In an interview with Jaeger, he explained how he was inspired to write the short after having conversations with police officers that were struggling to cope with mental complexities. “I’ve always been drawn to the story of a person living in two worlds.” But Jaeger is no foreigner when it comes to working on PTSD-related material. He co-starred in this year’s massive hit film American Sniper about veteran Chris Kyle. And when it comes to understanding family dynamics, look no further than Parenthood, the beloved NBC show that Jaeger starred in until it came to a close this season. Jaeger also has experience behind the camera, having written and directed his own feature Take Me Home in 2011.
Jaeger’s time spent honing his craft as a filmmaker and actor shines through in Plain Clothes, which he has constructed skillfully and with great care. Thought was put into showing the overlap of the two lives that an officer must live. So much so that even on the day the main character should be celebrating his son’s birth, he almost ends up celebrating death.
The film premiered at Napa Valley Film Festival last fall, and now Jaeger wants it to have a life of its own online. “Police departments have already asked me to use it as part of their training, and there’s a possible TV series in the works.”
Hopefully this short film has a long life, because it is an important topic that needs more consideration, especially in light of the recent police incidents around the nation. And if even one person can watch it and find light through the darkness, then it’s safe to say Jaeger succeeded in his purpose.