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This Will Destroy You

An Army soldier home on holiday hides her dark past from family and friends during a Memorial Day barbecue.

  • Michael Hyon Johnson
  • Michael Hyon Johnson
  • Cheyton Jain
  • Carlos Herrera Trujillo
  • Gemma Scoble
    Key Cast
  • Nick Burchard
    Key Cast
  • Ryon Thomas
    Key Cast
  • Ernie Stifel
    Key Cast
  • William Brown III
    Key Cast
    "Sgt. Joe Wilson"
  • Keyhan Bayegan
    Director of Photography
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Drama, Military, War, Family
  • Runtime:
    14 minutes 48 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    October 22, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    6,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Michael Hyon Johnson

After serving in the US Air Force in 2003, Michael earned his Bachelor of Arts in Literature and Film theory at the University of Northern Colorado. He wrote and directed the web-series “PreGame Lobby” with Machinima, Inc which quickly gained a cult-following and over eight million cumulative views.

Michael graduated from Chapman University with an MFA in Cinematography in 2019 and has directed numerous short films and music videos. As a cinematographer he’s studied under Dante Spinotti, ASC (Antman and the Wasp), Jonathan Sela (Hobbs and Shaw), Johnny Jensen, ASC (Rosewood), and Bill Dill, ASC (The Five Heartbeats).

Winner of the Festival Heart at the Intendence Film Festival for his short, “Axios”; Michael is currently developing his first feature film, “Nothing Follows” while working as a post production assistant with Dean Devlin at Electric Entertainment.

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Director Statement

I spent a majority of my life involved with the military in some form or another. I was born on base at Camp Pendleton’s Naval Hospital while my father served in the United States Marine Corps. The military had also represented as an opportunity for my family to extend themselves out of poverty while paying tribute to a history of civic pride.

I was in JROTC in high school when the World Trade Towers were attacked on September 11th and I remember the anger and resentment thrown at my Arab-American friends in Aurora, Colorado. Our school was within walking distance from Buckley Air Force base; our high school mascot was a F-16 Fighter jet. The community was strongly conservative and unforgiving and my friends and I survived by committing to zealous, political ideology in support of the war.

I enlisted with the intent of earning a GI Bill and paying for college and quickly realized that most people serving in the military didn’t always join with honorable intentions. Most are desperate or are lacking alternate options. Some had faced jail time for violent crimes or drug abuse and enlisted as part of a plea bargain. Those that weren’t poor like me or facing misdemeanors were religious or hate-filled zealots. I became disenchanted - I had romanticized the military only to realize that not everyone who serves is a hero.

This Will Destroy You is an observation into this unpopular investigation: not everyone is a hero. In 2004, the world was shocked to learn that the US had begun to normalize torture and prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. Soldiers have been indicted and imprisoned but now in 2019 many of those soldiers have been pardoned by President Trump. Many in the military community have condemned these pardons while some still defend these war crimes.

This Will Destroy You is an uncomfortable reminder of our military’s past. A past that is still so fresh and relevant. War never changes but the way we conduct ourselves can be adjusted. We have to hold our military to a higher ethical standard or we risk aligning ourselves to those at Nuremberg.