After two decades in the military, a Silver Star award and consulting work on the Oscar-nominated film Zero Dark Thirty, it’s safe to say retired Navy SEAL Mitch Hall knows his stuff when it comes to special ops, SEAL training and the cost of fighting for our country. No wonder he was recruited to keep History’s scripted hit SIX on target as both a consultant and associate producer.
What was your first duty when you signed on to the show? The first thing I did was get into the writers’ room and help them construct plausible [missions] as well as personal storylines about what is going on at home. And that’s really what the show is about. It’s not about just what they do on the battlefield, but, in a sense, just how normal these guys are.
'It's very important to us to get this right.'
Did you have a say in the uniforms or what gear the soldiers carried? I have my mitts in every department, whether it’s wardrobe or finding helicopters or training the actors or reviewing scripts. I think props was something the show underestimated initially. We spent the first six to eight weeks of preproduction identifying the gear. Since it’s focused on Seal Team Six, this elite group, the gear is hard to find. Some vendors don’t even want to sell to us. It was quite a project.
The actors went through modified SEAL fitness training. Why was that necessary? When the idea came up to get these guys ready for the show, there were two things. First, we had to let them know where these characters came from, which was the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training simulation part of it. The second part was we needed them to be good at what they do. So the first half of BUD/S is to basically kick their ass and let them discover who they really are at the core. The second part of it was to teach them to have an elite skill set.
'SEAL wives are very strong and very independent...but it's a lonely life.'
Did you give them report cards on how they did? [Laughs] Not a literal report card, but we discussed things all the time. I was on set often, constantly tweaking little things because I did this for 21 years. What I was trying to teach them is so second nature to me, I don’t even think about them. And these guys are on that edge where some of it became second nature.