“The atom bomb was no ‘great decision.’ It was merely another powerful weapon in the arsenal of righteousness.” – Harry S. Truman
In the upcoming movie, “The Truman Decision,” written and directed by Siouxland native Adam Gonshorowski, we delve into the thought process and actions taken by President Harry S. Truman and his inner circle in the time preceding the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima, Japan, which ultimately ended World War II.
After returning from two years of film school at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Gonshorowski, also a graduate from Morningside College, originally wrote “The Truman Decision” as a stage play, which was produced by Shot in the Dark Productions in November and December of 2017. Since then, with the help of cameraman Taylor Grote, he has converted it to film, and is currently editing it to create the final, polished product which will be debuting in the Sioux City International Film Festival this upcoming September.
“For me it’s a really interesting story,” said Gonshorowski. “You take a somewhat everyday person, Truman, who ends up falling into the Presidency after Franklin Delano Roosevelt dies following 12 years of being the President. Truman had been a senator for two terms and then became the Vice President, knowing (basically) nothing about anything to do with the office, and is thrown into the position to end a war…both wars, in Europe and Japan. It’s just a story about an ‘everyman’ from Missouri becoming greater than himself. You had someone without any experience coming into the office and getting stuff done.”
The cast is mainly comprised of actors involved in the various local theaters, and the role of Truman is played by Gregory Gifford Giles, a member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and Sioux City native. Giles has worked as an actor for more than a quarter-century with credits on over 20 shows and movies including “The Bold and the Beautiful” and “Gilmore Girls.” He currently works as the Vice President of Legacy Financial Services here in Sioux City.
“Once Adam really pulled the trigger on this and got under my skin, said he really wanted to do this, and got me hired under equity contract, I wanted to pull it off and do a more-than competent job,” said Giles. “I didn’t want to be a caricature of Truman. I’m kind of good with accents, so in the first rehearsal I used a nasally voice, like Truman had, and Adam told me he didn’t want to go in that direction, so instead I talked like a Midwestern folksy person who is politically astute would talk.”
The set of the movie is the same Oval Office set Gonshorowski built on stage at the Evelyn Larson Theatre for the play. Most of the movie is based in the oval office, so finding the correct angles to shoot the scenes was important to make the film seem like it actually takes place in the famous office in the White House, thus suspending the audience’s disbelief. The scenes which were not filmed in the theater were filmed in various locations around Sioux City.
“For the exteriors we were shooting the other day, it’s about finding angles in town where we can sort of cheat-out the modern stuff,” said Gonshorowski. “When there are cars going down the street, we have to angle-up, so we keep the modern cars out of frame. Shooting in downtown helps because some of the buildings were built in the late 1800s or early 1900s, so you have that old brick. But mainly it’s finding the angles to make it work as a period piece.”
This is Gonshorowski’s first solo feature film, although he has worked on many films in the past. It was self-funded, and nearly every aspect of the film was attributed to his work.
“He’s (Gonshorowski) a bit of a noodge (Yiddish word…look it up!),” said Giles, laughing. “He’s a jack of all trades. He did the set, he did the lighting, the costumes, the makeup and the set-painting. He built the props…the stuff he couldn’t get elsewhere, he built himself. I like that about a person, someone being that clever. Knowing him from the film festival board, I know he has a comprehensive knowledge of movies. He’s got a lot in his noggin.”
“The Truman Decision” will be making its world premiere at the Sioux City International Film Festival at 10 a.m., Saturday, September 15th at the Orpheum Theater (528 Pierce St.). There will be a Q&A with Gonshorowski and the cast, which will be followed, at 1:00 p.m., by Ron Clements (famed Disney animator and Sioux City native) introducing his movie, “Moana.” Come down early and enjoy a day rich with history and cinematic magic.