A decorated US Army Veteran, Ron Blecker is the owner and founder of Def Con 5 Inc. Ron joined the US army at 17, and retired in 1998 at rank of First Sergeant. In his 15 years in the military he served as a member of the 2/75th Airborne Ranger Battalion, 23rd Infantry (Demilitarized Zone) Korea, Light Fighter Cadre 7th division, Special Operations Command, and also served as the team commander for the Special Reaction Team, Ft.Lewis. WA. Ron graduated from Ranger Class 14-84. He is Jump Master, Rappel Master and S.W.A.T tactics instructor qualified. Def Con 5 is a film company that provides weapons trained performers and military and police consultants to the motion picture and television industry. You can see his most recent work in the Hitman (out on dvd March 11, 2008)
We had the honor of sitting down with Ron to talk about what all his job entails, his most challenging project, and why he has to keep quite about the new X Files film! Here’s what he had to say:
Can you talk a little bit about your background, and what it is that you do on movies such as Hitman?
Well, I’m based out of Vancouver, but I’m an American citizen. I’m from Rockford, Illinois. I spent 15 years in the United States Army. I was a member of the Special Operations Command particularly the Airborne Rangers out of Fort Lewis, and after my tour in the military, I got out and two weeks later I received a phone call to work in the motion picture industry.
I got started in the industry working on The X Files for Chris Carter. My job is to work with actors and writers, and answer any questions that they may have. I also work with directors, they asked how a scene looks, and I let them know. If it looked like crap, I’ll tell them it looked like crap, and then they’ll yell cut, and we’ll do it again. If I said it looked good, then we’ll move on.
How is it working with the actors that you work with? Is it difficult to get them to understand how they need to react with a certain situation or handle a certain weapon?
No not at all. One of the beauties of the job is that I’m the guy that the actors want to talk to. Sometimes I can’t shake them off. The casts have typically always been great. In the beginning I had some problems just talking to people, because I had spent most of my adult life in the US Army. I found that I was a little abrupt and abrasive with people [laughs]. So I learned that you can’t talk to people that way. Even back then the casts were understanding, but I’m always the guy they definitely want to have around. It’s great.
What’s the most challenging project that you’ve done?
There’s been a couple. I think it would be Taken, a mini-series that Spielberg did. That was a 10 part series, and the challenging part of that was that it covered 60 years of time. In every single episode there was military, law enforcement, or cops, and when the first episode started it was two months after the United States Army had gotten rid of the Air Corps and the Air Force had been formed. So there was so much I had to learn and familiarize myself with about the transition of the military over 60 years for basically 10 different movies in the series. Now that was difficult, it definitely kept me on my toes.
What about the most expensive project you’ve worked with?
I think it would have been X-men 3. For 3 months, we had 150 soldiers and all of the cast working at night with an additional 100 stunt men for the Alcatraz scene. That was unbelievably expensive and incredibly time consuming.
Now what do you do to stay up to date on technology? Do you have different sources that you turned to?
Well I’m still very active in the US military even though I’m no longer a soldier. Obviously, I still have friends that are there, and I’m a part of several associations that keep me in touch. You can take the soldier out of the military, but you can’t take the military out of the soldier.
So I follow up, if there’s something new out there then I go to several conventions that display new technology, and I keep up on the latest trends and things that are happening in the military. And I do have plenty of friends who are associated with federal law enforcement, the FBI, hostage rescue teams, and things like that, so even though I’m not wearing the uniform any longer I still keep in touch and keep tabs on what’s happening out there.
Now you’re working on the new X Files film correct?
Can you give any insight as to what fans can expect to see with that?
You’re not going to like the answer [laughs]. It’s going to be a good movie. That’s all I can say.
They have you under tight wraps with that one huh?
They have everyone under tight wraps. It’s very important for them to keep everything about the film confidential.
Do you know when the release date will be with that?
As I understand it will be this summer, so it’s going to be a fairly quick turn around.
Do you have any other projects coming up that you’re working on?
Just finishing up The Watchman and I’m starting to work with a video game company that I’m putting through training camp for their next release, and sadly I can’t talk about any of that either [laughs]. Sometimes, with this job, they want you to talk as much as you can about it and other times they don’t even want you to acknowledge that it’s being worked on. That project happens to be one of the later.
When you talk about the boot camp that you put the video game people through and the actors through, how realistic is it compared to a normal boot camp?
I’ll give you a good example. I did a boot camp for Battlestar Galatica. It was for the cast, for the pilot. It was very realistic. The one thing that I don’t do in my camps is I don’t belittle people. It’s not my job to break them down and turn them into soldiers. It’s my job as I see it to train them and provide them with extra tools in their kit that they can apply towards their character. But for example, the camp for Battlestar Galatica, it was a week long, and when they arrived, my staff and myself were standing there… And you’d never seen so many frightened faces, because these poor people had no idea what to expect. They came off that bus and stood there… and after about 4 or 5 hours they started to relax a little.
Everything is the same, there is certain rank structure, there’s deadlines that have to be met, there’s things that are expected of them, and things that they have to accomplish. But what I don’t do in my boot camps, one, I never lay a hand on them, and two, I don’t scream at them and belittle them. I have a way of training cast members… there is more time spent laughing and learning than there is going “Oh my god, this guy is a whack job, and I can’t wait to get out of here.”
Interview By: Emma Loggins