Fathers and Son – A Terminal List Story

This past December, my friend Michael Broderick surprised me with a very special short film he created based on the characters from my novels.  Titled “Fathers and Sons – A Terminal List Story” it is a moving portrayal of two friends and teammates bonding over sacrifice, lost time, and whispers of redemption. Michael Broderick plays Thomas Reece, a Vietnam-era SEAL and CIA Case Officer, and the father of my protagonist, Navy SEAL Sniper James Reece.  Tim Abell plays Del, Tom Reece’s BUD/S Instructor and Teammate.  As an added bonus for me, I got to find out how Tom Reece gets the Echols Rifle he gives to his son. . .

Fathers and Sons was recently submitted to the GI Film Festival in San Diego, a military film festival highlighting “the struggles, triumphs, and experiences of service members and veterans through compelling and authentic storytelling.”

Watch Fathers and Sons

How did this amazing short film come to be?

When Michael Broderick first read THE TERMINAL LIST, he thought it would make a great film. In the press release breaking the news that it had been optioned by Chris Pratt and would be made into a series for Amazon, the studio released a statement about incorporating as many veterans into the production as possible. (Read article here)  That inspired Michael to bring together some of his friends and fellow veterans from Veterans in Media and Entertainment to create a short film.

Hollywood has a long history of veteran involvement.  From World War One through today, veterans have played an important role in the film industry. Though not an all-inclusive list, you might recognize a few of these Hollywood icons who also wore the uniform: Jimmy Stewart, Charles Bronson, Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, Ernest Borgnine, Lee Marvin, Chuck Norris, Adam Driver, Bea Arthur, Harry Belafonte, Kirk Douglas, Morgan Freeman, James Earl Jones, Paul Newman, Jack Palance, Kris Kristofferson, Robert Stack, Harvey Keitel, Drew Carey, Richard Pryor, Humphrey Bogart, Dennis Franz, Gene Wilder, Mel Brooks, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Ice-T, Leonard Nimoy, Charlton Heston, Don Knotts, James Garner, Don Rickles, Art Carney, Buddy Hackett, Jesse Ventura, Robert Duvall, Mickey Rooney, Roy Scheider, Gene Hackman, Oliver Stone, Johnny Carson, Sammy Davis Jr., Vincent Pastore, Jamie Farr, Alan Alda, Mike Farrell, Bob Newhart, Benny Hill, Carl Reiner, Sherman Hemsley, Henry Fonda, Charles Durning, Harvey Korman, David Niven, Michael Caine, Clark Gable, Moses Gunn, Robert Loggia, Telly Savalas, Jonathan Winters, Ed Asner, Rod Steiger, Robert Montgomery, Sterling Hayden, Neville Brand, Jack Warden, Ted Knight, Bob Crane, Spencer Tracy, Harry Dean Stanton, Rock Hudson, Fred Gwynne, Burt Young, R. Lee Ermey, George C. Scott, Wilford Brimley, James Avery, Rob Riggle, Richard Kline, James Whitmore, Jason Robards, Elvis Presley, and of course, Audie Murphy.

Michael Broderick is a former U.S. Marine.  You will recognize him from his roles in True Detective, Get Shorty and Power. He met fellow veteran and actor Tim Abell in 2005 when Tim conducted a Q&A for Michael’s acting class in Los Angeles.  They have been friends ever since.  When Michael decided to create this short film, he immediately thought of Tim, knowing that their friendship would translate over to Tom and Del’s relationship in the story.

I’ve been a huge Tim Abell fan for years, so I could not have been more fired up to see him playing Del in Fathers and Sons.  I first became aware of Tim when he played Marine Corps Scout/Sniper Benny Ray Riddle on Jerry Bruckheimer’s television show Soldier of Fortune, Inc with Brad Johnson.  It premiered in 1997 just as I was finishing BUD/S and checking into my first SEAL Team.  Having grown up as a reader of Soldier of Fortune Magazine I was aware the show was coming out and would star a veteran of the 75th Ranger Regiment named Tim Abell.  It ran for two seasons and I saw every episode.

Michael knew that he wanted to do a character piece rather than a film that focused on action and weapons handling. Tom Reece was the perfect character vehicle to create something original and heartfelt. The character of Del was specifically written for Tim Abell.  Michael named him after his friend, former intelligence agent D. W. Wilber, author of In the Shadow of the Swords who assisted Michael’s with research and background for Thomas Reece.

Michael then recruited the extremely talented Tyne Stecklein, who he knew from The Lacy Group Acting Studio to complete the cast.

Fathers and Sons was written by Navy veteran Vernon Mortensen and directed by Army veteran Ryan Curtis. Ryan assembled the remainder of the crew, including cinematographer/editor Raphe Wolfgang and Sound Mixer, Marine veteran Jon Orr.

This short film simply blew me away!

I love that I now know how Tom Reece got the Echols Legend Rifle that he passed to his son who then uses it with lethal precision in the opening of THE TERMINAL LIST, the chapter (prologue) that first introduced James Reece to the world. Was that chapter adapted to the Chris Pratt Amazon series?  You will have to wait and see. . .

For those who have read the novels, did you notice Tom Reece’s watch?  Michael had purchased a Rolex knock off to use in Fathers and Sons but ended up breaking it trying to adjust the wristband. On the day of the shoot, he was telling Tim Abell how disappointed he was to not have the prop because he thought it was such a cool “Easter egg” for fans of the novels.  Director Ryan Curtis overheard the story and happened to be wearing a Rolex Submariner.  That watch is the one in the film. If you have read TRUE BELIEVER or SAVAGE SON you will understand its significance.

The incredible cast and crew included veterans who are members of Vets in Media and Entertainment.  Everyone CRUSHED IT!  Thank you all for creating such an exceptional film that has the most essential element of any creative endeavor – heart.  I am honored and humbled.


A Navy SEAL has nothing left to live for and everything to kill for after he discovers that the American government is behind the deaths of his team in this ripped-from-the-headlines political thriller.

Cast and Crew:

Tom – Michael Broderick (Marine Corps)
Del – Tim Abell (Army)
Rhonda – Tyne Stecklein
Director – Ryan Curtis (Army)
Writer – Vernon Mortensen (Navy)
Cinematographer / Editor – Raphe Wolfgang
Assistant Camera – Dustin Miller
Gaffer – Camilo Lara Jr.
Sound Mixer – Jon Orr (Marine Corps)
Sound Designer – Hall Cantrell
Music Composer – Nick Gomez
Music Supervisor – Abe Bradshaw (Navy)
Production Assistant – Lucia Tarantino
Production Assistant – Alan Bernhoft
Special Thanks – Dave Houston and Barney’s Beanery

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