Jariko Denman was born in Washington DC and, as a military brat, grew up all over the world. In 1997 he enlisted in the US Army. After basic training and Airborne School, he completed the assessment and selection process for the 75th Ranger Regiment and was assigned to the 2nd Ranger Battalion at Ft Lewis, Washington. Jariko went on to serve in the Ranger Regiment for 15 and a half years. Jariko deployed to combat 15 times in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2002-2012 as a Weapons Squad Leader, Rifle Platoon Sergeant, and Ranger Company First Sergeant, amounting to 54 months of total combat experience as part of a Joint Special Operations Task Force.
Jariko Retired from active duty in 2017 after four years as the Senior Military Science Instructor at St. John’s University in New York City and now lives in Los Angeles. Since Retiring he has advised on several major motion pictures, national ad campaigns, and television series’ as well as continuing to train and work within government and tactical industries.
Enjoy my conversation with Jariko Denman.
Jariko Denman 0:00
You know, I retired as a master sergeant, I am a master of this craft. How do I take all that knowledge and use it? You know, I don't want that to be a waste there are there are these intangible things of work ethic and leadership and you know these things that I've learned but the actual skill set the things that I am an absolute master of, how do I use those and not carry a gun anymore right?
Alex Ferrari 0:26
This episode is brought to you by the best selling book Rise of the Filmtrepreneur how to turn your independent film into a money making business. Learn more at filmbizbook.com I like to welcome to the show Jariko Denman. How you doing Jariko?
Jariko Denman 0:40
I am great. Thanks for having me on.
Alex Ferrari 0:42
Hey, man, thanks for coming on brother you you are a unique guest to the show because I've never had a a filmmakers last soldier slash media slash Ayahuasca taker and so many other things. You know, when the when you're when our mutual friend connected us. I just felt fascinated by your story in general man and I have all sorts of questions for you. So. And by the way, the best quote, I think that pretty much sums you up. If I may be so bold is one of your quotes, sir. I don't want to be rich or famous. I just want to be a fucking storyteller. pretty much sums it all up.
Jariko Denman 1:27
Yeah. Well, I've told some stories. And I'm pretty far from being rich or famous.
Alex Ferrari 1:30
So is it then you're right on tracks? Are you right on your mission? You're on a mission. So So first question, how did you get involved in the military? How did you become an Army Ranger, all that kind of stuff?
Jariko Denman 1:45
Yeah, I got it. All I was I was an Army brat. So I grew up in a military household, my dad served over 20 years, he's a Vietnam vet. Desert Storm grenades and a few wars. So I just, you know, for me, it was kind of normal. He did want me to join the Air Force. So I got treated better than an army guy. But I, I pulled a fast one on when I joined the Army, just like just like he was in. So yeah, you know, growing up in a military family, it was kind of a natural pacing for me. I was you know, as a kid, though, I was pretty artistic, I drew a lot painted and stuff like that my dad really wanted me to go to art school. So I always did, I was always very creative. But I also wanted to go into military, I want to do get some adventure, I wanted to get out of my parents house, I hated school. So it was just a natural progression. It was either, you know, be a be Jeremiah Johnson living in the mountains or join the military. So I chose the military. And then my brother also joined the military, and we both you know, kind of went down the Ranger track, just a I'm not sure how familiar you are, but you know, not the number. The Ranger community, the Ranger Regiment is basically the only special operations unit. At that time, you know, I joined in the late 90s, it was the only special operations unit you could go to work or assess and select for off the street. So back then, at least when I went to the Navy recruiter, you couldn't get a buds or a seal contract, right, you had to join the Navy with some other job that they had assigned you. And then just hope that you were able to get to buds or assess for the SEAL teams. Same with the Air Force. Same with the Marine Corps. All those other branches basically said, Hey, you can come and be a cool guy. But you have to sign up for this and hope that we accept you into the selection process. Whereas to become a ranger, you walk in off the street and say, hey, I want to Ranger contract, which doesn't guarantee you're going to become a ranger. But it does guarantee that you will be given the opportunity to assess and select or assess and be selected. So that was the reason that basically the whole reason I became an Army Ranger is because it was the only one you could sign up to go directly to the selection.
Alex Ferrari 4:04
So what I mean, I've heard I mean, obviously the seals is the legendary selection process. It's been talked about a lot, but I don't know a lot about the Rangers, which I hear. It's no joke.
Jariko Denman 4:16
Yeah, it's, you know, all all those selections are, you know, they're similar. They just, they choose different things by which to torture you with and they, you know, every selection process in the military or in the Special Operations community, it's just a series of gates through which you have to pass before you you know, you can call yourself whatever that may be. And, you know, in in buds, they use a lot of like maritime stuff swimming and, you know, Zodiac rafts and all these all these things, physical things, but most of them having to do with the water. Whereas, you know, the the selection pipeline for the Ranger Regiment is you know, it's very ground based it's it's a, the Ranger Regiment is known as most elite light infantry in the world. So every gate we pass through is an assessment in your skills in that in that environment, right? So you go through so when I went in you, you go to you join the army, you go through basic training as an infantry man. You go to Airborne School jump school where you learn how to jump out of a plane, which is, it's like a little break, honestly. Not not a hard school. And then you go to a thing that is now called rasp, the Ranger assessment selection program. It's an eight week course. And it's just physical and, you know, academic tests that test your mettle in, you know, doing ground combat, right. So, patrolling in the woods, doing raids, recon ambush. And then just like physical things, ruck, marches, runs, you know, PT events. And one of the big differences in being a ranger and being in a couple of these other units is in the regiment we have, I'll refer to it as the regiment because you know, it is, and, but at the end of that process, you basically you're assigned to a Ranger Battalion. But a difference with us is, once you're assigned to the Ranger Battalion, that's when we say, Okay, you're three raste. Now the hard part starts, right. So you get placed in kind of a, an unofficial probationary status. Much like a, you know, a probationary firefighter, their first year on the job, they do anything wrong, they're gone, right? So you have that same kind of environment as a new guy in the Ranger Regiment. And then there's kind of a confusing thing for a lot of people you go to, you then go to Ranger School, right? Which is a school run by the training detachment of the US Army. It's a it's an army school. It isn't necessarily a special operations course. It's it's very old school, but it's another gate, right? And in order to become a leader, or really to survive past a year in the Ranger Regiment, you have to complete Ranger School. So all in you know, your pipeline is around a year and a half. From off the street to then getting there and being like, Okay, I am a an established Ranger. So, you know, Ranger School is it's mainly it's a leadership course. That's what they say. But they basically don't let you sleep and they don't let you eat and they have you patrol for, you know, two and a half months. Constant raid recon ambush patrols throughout carrying about 100 pound rucksack in three different phases, you do your first phase in Fort Benning, Georgia, she's just kind of like, run of the mill woods. And then you go to mountain phase, which is in Salonika, Georgia, North Georgia, which is the base of the Appalachian Trail. So pretty, pretty legit mountains there, you do patrols there, and then you go to Florida, and you do what's called, like, Florida phase or swamp phase, and you're in the swamps for the last last little bit there. And then hopefully, you graduate and you know, you can get recycled, dropped all those things. So it lasts anywhere from about two and a half months to if you're just not a lucky fella, you can be there for you know, a long time.
Alex Ferrari 8:31
So it's it's just like filmmaking, but different. Yeah,
Jariko Denman 8:34
yeah. You know, it's, I found a lot of parallels in the in the film community. I think you're making a joke, but
Alex Ferrari 8:41
I know, I know. I know. There isn't. I mean, I've been a director for almost 30 years. i It's always I always looked at it as very much like a, like a military unit even though I'd never been in the military. But from from watching and understanding and just studying what that's like, you know, seeing just movies, you just go oh, this seems like a group of guys or group of people trying to make something happen. Different departments, central leadership, and and then there's sub leadership's all around and you just got to keep going. And it's and it's, you just move into an area that wasn't there before. Generally speaking, occupied by force. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah. I always say we're carnies. You just put up tents, we should do a show. And then the car he pulled the tents down, and then you're off? Because I don't know about you. If, if you've met any people in the industry that are very corny, like,
Jariko Denman 9:28
yeah, it's I mean, that's one of the things that attracted me to the film history too, is it's a very kind of nomadic lifestyle. Like you're not nomadic in the sense that you don't have a home but like, you get to go all over the place. You get to go see, you know, I don't know a lot of other things being like, Oh, I'm gonna go live in New Orleans for three months. You know, it's great. I think it's
Alex Ferrari 9:46
going to New Zealand for six months or a year so I'm like, they had some things like that is Yeah, it is a very, it's a sexy business. On the outside, and the inside Isn't that so much. So one thing I you know, there's a lot of misconception Since about military and soldiers and you know, especially in the world that we live in today, what's the biggest misconception that you you feel that people have of military of soldiers of, you know, people, you know, going out there and doing their job? Yeah, I think
Jariko Denman 10:20
that's a really good question. The biggest misconceptions, I'd say, is just it's kind of like how society in general is right now. Right? Like, as a veteran, I find myself either completely lionized, like, oh, man, you're you. If you fart, it doesn't stink to two being completely demonized, like, oh, man, that guy's probably got PTSD. He's probably crazy, you know, that type of thing. So it's just that I'd say that the biggest, you know, misconception is like, we're not Jason Bourne, you know, but we're also not Travis Bickle. You know? Like, they. We live in the middle there somewhere. Right.
Alex Ferrari 11:01
Basically, exactly. Because movies have not helped us the stereotype. They used to they go to the extreme, most movies. Exactly. I mean, other than full metal jacket.
Jariko Denman 11:12
Right? Yeah. I think within my community, the thing I often battle with is like I volunteered, I really enjoyed my time in the military. I loved it. I liked deploying, I liked doing missions. I liked I liked it. So was there was there some degree of sacrifice? Absolutely. But they're, they're ones that I chose, you know, like, yeah, I missed a bunch of birthdays. And I didn't do this and that, but I also got to do some really, really, really cool stuff that not a lot of good people get to do.
Alex Ferrari 11:42
And you get to play with some pretty pretty gnarly toys.
Jariko Denman 11:46
Yeah, yeah, that too. Um, I've never really been a gun guy or a gear guy or whatever. I just like kind of like whatever they give me out of the armory, I'll take it and use it and, but there are a lot of there are a lot of people in the military that they're really into that. So like, every day they come to work. They're like, Oh, this is awesome. I get this, you know, widget or this rocket or this, whatever. And I was like, Whatever, man, it's just Wednesday to me, you know?
Alex Ferrari 12:10
Now, you, you said you enjoyed your time in the military? Apparently you did? Because you had is it 54 months? of
Jariko Denman 12:17
combat? Yeah, that's correct. That's it was the
Alex Ferrari 12:21
Jariko Denman 12:23
Yeah, 15 tours. So in, in in the regiment, you know, we were part of the Special Operations community. So our deployments weren't as long. So a conventional army unit usually deployed 12 to 15 months for deployment. But just because of our op tempo, or operational tempo, we were like, hit it so hard, and did so much. Our deployments were generally shorter. So my, you know, deployments, those of those 15, those were anywhere from like, 60 to 180 days each, they weren't years long. But when you add them all up, it's yeah, they're about four and a half years, or however long that is difficult.
Alex Ferrari 13:02
So, you know, being in the military, as long as you haven't seen as much combat as you have, what do you think, is the mentality that you need to have in order to survive, that kind of, you know, that kind of nut trauma, but just that whole, the whole thing? I mean, there's a special kind of human that goes into that, like, I can't comprehend going into that, even though I'm a filmmaker, I can pretend it. But like, it's, there's a certain mindset, there's a certain mentality that that you need to have, what do you what's your experience? And what do you think it
Jariko Denman 13:32
is? So another good question. So I'm almost like you do this for a living?
Alex Ferrari 13:39
It's not my first rodeo, sir.
Jariko Denman 13:43
No, yeah. I think I think it's finding whatever your motivation is, and it's different for everyone. You know, for me, as corny as it sounds, for me, it was it was service. Not so much a grandiose service to our nation. While that did come in, you know, as a youngster, but for me, it was in and these are all cliches, but cliches come from somewhere. It was service to the people with me, I, I never wanted to, you know, punch out and then, you know, find out on the next appointment, one of my friends got hurt or killed. So it was it was kind of a, you know, almost a selfish act. It's like a FOMO kind of thing. You know, you get on these deployments, you start, you know, stacking up accolades, you start to develop a reputation and you just, you just want to keep, you know, feeding the beast. It can also be a bit of an addiction. Yeah, so, while I was well, I would love to say it was like, oh, man, I really I it was it was 50% motivation to do it again and 50% fear of missing out on the next one.
Alex Ferrari 14:58
That's that's a really interesting because I've heard that from from, you know, other military people, I've seen that it's just kind of like, it's an adrenaline rush, like you're on, on like a high adrenaline high all the time. Like, you can't rest when you're on deployment almost to a certain extent, if I'm not if I'm not mistaken.
Jariko Denman 15:18
Yeah, yeah. And, you know, now we're finding, there's like, a lot of physiological effects of that. We're in, you know, like, just the hyper vigilance and, you know, a lot of hormonal things that have that have happened to guys just because it takes, you know, it takes a long time to unpack that and, like, reverse the effects of that. But absolutely, you're, you're, you're in that environment all the time. And you're just like, you kind of need it. After a while.
Alex Ferrari 15:43
It's yeah, it's almost like yeah, it's it's from what I hear and from what I've heard, that a lot of soldiers have been out into deployment, they say, Look, I'm I'm not fighting for my country. I'm fighting for the my brother next to me. Absolutely. Yeah. That's, that's basically because, you know, there's the macro. And then there's the micro of what you're fighting for. And you're like, right now, I can't think of the macro. I'm thinking about these guys next to me, this this my unit?
Jariko Denman 16:08
Yeah, yeah. And, you know, you, you also really don't have time to think about like, the macro, you know, kind of the tactical level, like, Okay, we're gonna go out and raid this house or raid this place. Like, you're like, oh, actually, should we like are? You don't have time for that. So it does you you really circle the wagons with the group you're with, and do the best job you can and hope that it's all chipping away at the Great, the greater good. But it doesn't So
Alex Ferrari 16:42
fair enough. Now, you know, from from my research on you, I did hear that you, you took Ayahuasca now I, I've been fascinated with that, that stuff. I haven't taken any, nor do I plan on taking it. But I'm always I always love asking people what they saw. Because from what I understand, it is not only trippy, but it's like and I've gotten deep into the psilocybin and all of that stuff that it's kind of in the similar BLT, and all that stuff. It opens up doorways in your mind that you can't even comprehend. I love to hear straight from the horse's mouth, no pun intended, sorry.
Jariko Denman 17:21
Absolutely, yeah, if I were to describe it, say indescribable. But you know, I've had a few years now to sit with it. And I do, I do a lot of work with plant medicine and with with psychedelics, in general, I think they're really, really good. When done intentionally, I think there are a lot of people that are running from their problems with them. But when done with intention, you know, not only the the spiritual changes in myself, but also the physiological changes that can be proven through science. You can't argue with it. But as far as things I saw, like the big takeaway for me, and the thing that I think, I will say openly the like, I think I want to save my life. Not in that I was gonna go kill myself. But I was just miserable. I was just a miserable person. I couldn't experience happiness. I couldn't, I couldn't. I couldn't meaning I couldn't connect with people in a meaningful way. But I can now and I credit Ayahuasca with fat and what it really did for me, the thing that I can like, really take out of it is that it put me into such amazingly dark places like fear and terror and, and just bad stuff. indescribably bad, like, really feeling that, and then being able to pull myself out of it, in my own mind, gave me back the power to feel how I want to feel, if that makes sense. Oh,
Alex Ferrari 18:55
it makes it makes all the sense in the world. It seems like it's from what I've heard it just like it does open up, different consciousness opens up. Like if your consciousness is normally this way, you have a window of opportunity of maybe a few if it's like a few hours, if I'm not mistaken, like this. And that's a lot that comes in and it's all personalized. It's not like everyone, we're all going to McDonald's. Now everyone has their own own experience in that time period.
Jariko Denman 19:22
Yeah. Yeah. And it's, I mean, like, when you when you talk about it being indescribable, it's like, you know, there was no sense of time no sense of space, absolute. Just being in not even being it is it's very hard to explain, but again, once you once you're in there and your mind can kind of like navigate your way out. It gives you this power again to you know, I still I still get in bad moods. I'm still sad. I'm still angry, but now I'm like, Okay, I'm feeling angry. Is this like a? Is this a, a logical response to what's going on right now? Yes, it is. Okay. Okay, good. You know, whereas before, you know, I would put myself in a loop of like anger and depression and anger and depression. And I'm able to kind of pull myself out of that.
Alex Ferrari 20:19
So it's kind of like it almost simulates the darkest parts of your soul in many ways, and allows you to figure your way back out of that. So it's almost a training in, in a virtual environment. It's almost like virtual VR training of the soul. And then you come back out, you're like, is that good? Good? It's
Jariko Denman 20:39
a very good way of putting it. Yeah, yeah. And, you know, one of the kind of physiological ways of how to explain to me because it's a very spiritual experience, but I'm also like, I like to figure things out, you know. So the way it's kind of been explained to me is, you know, when, when our, when our brains experience trauma, when we experience trauma, whether it's childhood, or adult trauma, our brain is a is a living being that figures out, okay, I'm going through this, I'm just going to like, you know, if there's a pathway between here and here, my brain just says, Okay, I don't like it here, I'm gonna go around this spot. Right. So then we will have these coping mechanisms for our traumas, whether it's, you know, not feeling safe as a kid or experiencing, you know, a blunt trauma of seeing something really bad, our brain shuts off certain pathways. Those pathways, however, are very necessary for our brains to work and for us to be at our true top for himself. So what I Alaska does, or a lot of psychedelics do is they go back in, and they turn those pathways back on. But in doing so, we have to re experience whatever level of trauma there was, that made that turn off. Like the brain remembers, and it puts us back through it. But then we come out and they're turned back on and we have a better brain for it.
Alex Ferrari 21:57
Sure, it basically goes in and rewires you, in many ways. It's kind of like the the groove in the in the record, there was a scratch, they went in and made that right out and made that connection again.
Jariko Denman 22:08
Exactly. Yeah. And, you know, I'm not a scientist or anything, but I like that way.
Alex Ferrari 22:13
It's very scientific. That's, that's proven science or the record theory. So you mentioned something a few times in our conversation, the spirituality aspect of it. And I've heard that as well. What did you when you walked in? Were you a very spiritual person? Or when you walked out? Did you become more spiritual? Did you see something in there that just made sense to you? Because I've heard many different scenarios.
Jariko Denman 22:41
I wouldn't call myself spiritual I do. A there's somebody up there pulling the strings on something, right? But I can't put my finger on it. I'm not a religious person never have been I wasn't raised that way. You know, I do feel I do feel a really strong bond to the earth, you know, like with nature, with animals, but as far as I wouldn't describe myself as a spiritual person. And I think if anything coming out of it, I feel a stronger bond at the Mac, like talking macro level, like to the universe, like I, I absolutely think that we are a speck in, in in something. So, you know, I feel like coming out of that I was in some places, whether it was in my mind only or not that or, you know, I recognize that there's a lot bigger of a there's an indescribably big something out there. And I can't ignore that anymore. So it just kind of universal rather than spiritual. Maybe
Alex Ferrari 23:46
you've been either you mean you could say either one really because it means spiritual has a connotation to it. And understanding that there's your greater part of a larger universe is in many ways a spiritual, a spiritual thing. It just all depends on how you look at it. And it sounds to me that it also kind of humbled you and humbled the ego a bit because when you say we are a speck, that is diminishing the ego. Dramatically.
Jariko Denman 24:12
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, there is yeah, no ego left coming out of coming.
Alex Ferrari 24:19
I mean, the hell out of Yeah. Oh,
Jariko Denman 24:21
yeah. The first ceremony you know, you call them ceremonies. I did four
Alex Ferrari 24:25
did four ceremonies.
Yes, you did. Because that's who you are.
Jariko Denman 24:31
I'm telling you that after coming out of that first one, I was like, I mean, just like bug eyes like I don't know how I'm gonna do that again. Like I was
Alex Ferrari 24:40
you how long of time did you have between?
Jariko Denman 24:43
I did. So did four ceremonies. I did one one night one the next night, took a day off and then did two more. Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 24:54
You are a soldier brother. That's me. That's a mental that's that's a military mentality. to this thing, like you're like, I don't care. It's it almost killed me the first time. Screw it.
Jariko Denman 25:04
I'm going back in. Yeah, yeah. And, you know, I've I've talked to you know, I get a lot of questions from people in the in the veteran community about ayahuasca and I kind of tell people, the best time to go into it as if you've got nowhere else to go, it's best to do it when you kind of feel like you are out of options. Because I was able to, you know, with a lot of a lot of turbulence, obviously given to it, and just say, hey, like, Here I am, like, you can kill me if you want to do whatever, but I am at your mercy. Basically,
Alex Ferrari 25:39
you You surrendered, which is not in your nature is a general statement, which is fascinating because you as a soldier, you're not built to surrender. But in that environment in the iOS basket, it pushes you to a place where you like, I'm done. I have and that's basically spirituality. If you give up you'd be like, fine, I just go, take me. And then then you come back from that, and it even changes you forever. And I understand that. So many PTSD and traumas are being saved or being like with one or two doses of psilocybin or peyote or ayahuasca, these kinds of psychedelics are doing some really amazing things politically, like they're doing it clinically, too.
Jariko Denman 26:25
Yeah, there's, there's people out there doing really, really amazing work with it. There's a couple of, you know, veteran, nonprofits out there that are setting veterans up with, with ceremonies, like very responsible ceremonies, you know, there's, there's a lot of there's a lot of weirdos out there. You know, like, Ayahuasca in the basement in West Hollywood. Like, that's not where you want to go. But
Alex Ferrari 26:48
I used to live in elixir. I understand exactly what you're talking about. I've I've heard of these. Hey, man, we're gonna go do Ayahuasca in West Hollywood. I'm like, you let me know how that works out for you. Yes, I don't want to go to Iowa, Tosca and walk out into West Hollywood. Oh, man, that would be that'd be much rather be in the jungle. With a panther someone?
Jariko Denman 27:08
Yeah. Yeah. That's funny.
Alex Ferrari 27:11
So speaking of Hollywood, you go, you've gone you've lived a fairly exciting life. And then Hollywood comes a calling. And you get you get caught up in this insanity. That is Hollywood. As a as a military specialist, right? As a consultant, right? Yeah. At Tech advisor, so tell me why. And how did you get in.
Jariko Denman 27:35
Um, so I think the how became came before the Y, which was I was, you know, I was getting ready to retire. I was working, teaching college ROTC in New York City. And a friend of a friend who was a Navy guy, Seal Team guy, which seals kind of have Hollywood debt market corner right now. Advising thing it's, it's, it's very seal heavy. So friend of a friend got called for a job tech advising on a limited series by NatGeo called The Long Road Home. That series was about army guys in Sadr City Iraq. And just one major battle they had so this Navy guy got the job call for the job. And he's like, I don't know anything about the army and I'm not gonna be a shithead and take a job that I really am not qualified for. So he called another guy was like, hey, you know, he, this other guy had worked in the in the industry a little bit in like stunts and things like that, and helped out on set, you know, being a PA here and there. So he know the business a little bit, but he was also not necessarily a very experienced army guy. So he, he called me and said, hey, they allowed him to have a second guide just for pre Pro, just for you know, the table reads and the getting getting wardrobe and props and all that stuff together. So he called me because he knew I was getting ready tires. Like, Hey, you wanna come check this out? I know, you were in solder city, you really experienced guy you can help out. I'll handle the movie stuff. You just handle the army stuff. I was like, okay, so I went and did it. The pre pro thing and they they liked my work. So they say you can stay on for the run of the show. So I stayed on for the run the show doing tech advisor stuff. And you know, at this point, I was retiring. I knew that I didn't know what I was going to do when I grew up. So I was like, alright, I'll kind of pursue this. So you know that Navy guy, his name is Raymond Doza. He's tech advised and produced on a lot of thing. He just got done doing the run a show for terminal lists. He's got a great, you know, list of credits in that world. So he's like, yeah, man, I'll kind of champion you into the into the industry. Um, anytime I got a job, I'll bring you along, and we'll be a team. So, him and I just, you know, we worked several things kind of we had a deal like he called you eat what you kill. So we all went out and tried to, you know, you know, you know it is trying to get jobs, hustle, you, hustle, you hustle, yeah, you're on that hustle. So getting jobs, and then you'd get a job and be like, initial entry on the job like, Hey, I can't do this alone. And you bring another guy. And if they're, you know, if the penny pincher say, well, we only got room for one or like, all right, and it is what it is. So, you know, I did that for a long time, like, four years with Ray, you know, both of us on a project him doing a project alone, me doing a project alone. And, you know, once I was into it, I guess the Y comes is like, I really enjoyed it. It was like a really, because something I struggled with, in my, you know, transition out of the military in the civilian world is how do I take all this knowledge I have, I'm like, you know, I retired as a master sergeant, I am a master of this craft. How do I take all that knowledge and use it? You know, I don't want that to be a waste. There are there are these intangible things of work ethic and leadership, and you know, these things that I've learned, but the actual skill set the things that I am an absolute master of how do I use those and not carry a gun anymore, right? This was it, it was alright, I can be, I can be creative, I can be engaged. And I can use these skills to like, make art and to help people, you know, bring their visions to life, and I loved it. And I loved how, you know, a set, it works like a military unit, there are people who do XYZ, they do those things they perform, or they don't work, you know, reputation carries you along way in the industry. There were there were a lot of different things that once I did it, I was like, I really liked this. And that that was that was kind of my why it wasn't. I had to get into it to see it. But once I was there, I was like, Oh, this is this is what I want to do with my
Alex Ferrari 32:16
life. That's awesome. And it's, and you've worked on some pretty cool shows along the way. Without question I have to ask, though, because I've been in the business for few years. And you know, Hollywood actors, they tend to be a little flaky, sometimes a little bit soft. But they feel like they they pretend they forget that they're pretending to be a tough guy until they run into a tough guy. So off the record, you don't have to say names. You don't have to say a show. Have you ever had to check somebody? Have you ever had to say, Dude, you're gonna hurt somebody shut the EFF up.
Jariko Denman 32:56
Oh, yeah, I mean. Yeah. And that's a lot. That's one thing that's really good about Ray and I's relationship. I will tell her like, Hey, man, I don't fucking care if I get fired. Like, you're not gonna make me fucking look bad. You know? I don't like it is if you do take ownership of these projects, like, you know, one. One a thing that I'm on comes out. I'm I'm nervous, because my friends are gonna watch it and be like, would you let this do do that? Peer pressure? Yeah, yeah. But I will say and I get I get this question a lot from people from the military. They're like, Oh, man, Mark work with actors, all those primadonnas, like the most. I've had, I would say, 95% positive experiences. Because at the end of the day, they're actors, they want to look good, you know, and if you present yourself as a professional that can make them look good. They'll listen to you. There is one, there's one time when I would say like, I had to check someone and be like, Hey, shut the fuck up. And listen to me. You don't know what the fuck you're talking about? It happened? Yeah, and yeah, I won't name names.
Alex Ferrari 34:08
Off the record will when the camera stops recording will will turn I will say
Jariko Denman 34:11
he took very, like, he took this feedback very gracefully, and was like, You are absolutely right. I'm sorry. But he did have to get checked.
Alex Ferrari 34:22
Yes. Like the stories I hear of stunt coordinators and people who like, you know, play kung fu guys on screen. And they, they try to test the stunt guy who happens to be like a martial arts expert. And
Jariko Denman 34:33
yeah, you know, well, I will say to, you know, in doing what I do in the tech advisor world, some of my biggest issues are usually with stunt guys. Yeah, it's,
Alex Ferrari 34:46
you know what I think because I've had, I've had a lot of big stunt guys on the show, and I've worked with stunt guys. They're all nuts. I'm not sure it's nuts as you guys are, but it's nevertheless and I can imagine those two Hitting on a set must be interesting. Well, it's,
Jariko Denman 35:03
it's, I get it, it's, for me, I don't I don't have ego, I just want the movie to look good. You know, and I think what it is, is a lot of times, you know, when you're a stunt guy, if you're on an action movie, there's not usually a tech advisor on like an action movie, right? And I've done some action stuff that's like, sci fi centric, like, but I still want the people shooting to look right, you know, for their character or whatever. And they'll be like, oh, man, I was in such and such and I was in so and so. And it's like, Alright, great, man. I don't care that look. Yeah, watch that you looked fucking stupid when you're shooting a rifle. So listen to me. But, you know, for for the most part. stunt guys are great. There's and stunt coordinators are always awesome. They all I always have a very good working relationship with the coordinators. It's it's usually like the guys who have been steady for, you know, a year or two. And they're like, oh, man, I know. It's the egos. Yeah, I have a friend who was in Special Forces. I'm like, okay, cool. Like, I don't care.
Alex Ferrari 36:06
He's not here now. And I am.
Jariko Denman 36:09
I am. You're the guy that you're saying. Like I told you something like, I'm the same as them. So like, shut the fuck up and listen to me.
Alex Ferrari 36:17
Yeah, no stunt coordinators always because they have to be there. They're the leaders there. They're the majors. They're the masters of that of that craft. And if they screw up someone could get hurt or, or die. Yeah, so every stunt coordinator I've ever met, they're like, they're right on the money all the time. No messing around. But the stunt guys are the Hey, man, can I jump off that roof? I only need you on the fifth floor. But I want to do it off the 20th floor. I could do it off the 20th floor like the camera it I don't need it. But let me try it for my real. I'm like, No, fifth, fifth floor is fine.
Jariko Denman 36:46
That's definitely a guy. That's definitely a stunt guy that's been in the business for like less than five years. Right, exactly.
Alex Ferrari 36:51
And then there's the old guy who's been around 20 years, he's like, Dude off the third floor, and just move the camera over here like that. Throw the light over there. It's gonna look like it's on the seventh floor. And let's go. Now, during all of your, your tech advising, what was the most difficult day you've ever had to overcome? And how did you overcome it? either mentally or either just the day because you know how it is on a set, things don't go right things go off things, you know, the guns didn't show up that day, because they get stuck in traffic, something like that. What was that thing for you? I know, it's not. It's not like a director who's like the entire world's gonna come crashing down around you. But was there something really difficult that you were able to overcome? And how did you overcome it?
Jariko Denman 37:36
Yeah, I'd say, you know, when I, when I take advice for the outpost, there were just a lot of a lot of challenges in that I wouldn't put it to a day but like the pre production, you know, it was all Bulgarian crew, you know, doing it in Bulgaria a lot, a lot of like, additionally, doing it with a studio that wasn't used to doing kind of semi documentary style, like war movie, they're used to doing action, they're not used to doing war, totally different genre, which was kind of hard to explain to them at times. But, you know, there were there were producers and even, you know, studio guys who really understood that. But sometimes things would happen, you know, you'd get just the wrong guns, you know, or you know, one of the things that happened with that was like, the, it kind of worked differently over there with the crew and the, you know, the, the prop master was kind of handling a lot of stuff that like an armor would handle here. So he was just kind of out of control, like kind of an egomaniac and just didn't order me any ammo for training for the boot camp that the actors had to do. So just getting really creative in in because I had to produce you know, a good in product of these, these cast members being able to portray professional soldiers and you know, every step along the way during that process, I was just thrown you know, thrown resistance because and I'm not done at the end of the day I know that that guy was probably getting told some by some line producer somewhere like you don't need ammo for training let's just save it until the movie it's going to save us you know X number of dollars or whatever so yeah, it was it was getting through the pre production in that in that movie in a way that still accomplish the directors intent for what he wanted these these guys to step on set for day one. Acting and feeling like and it was it was i i had hardly any gray hair before I started that movie.
Alex Ferrari 40:00
In this industry, so this is you'll do that to that movie age. I'm 20 I'm 22 years old, sir, look at me. So I have to ask you though, man, you mean obviously you've seen movies over the years. You know, I see that you have Mr. Criminal is a criminal Hicks, a corporal Hicks, Corporal hex behind you. From aliens. You know, obviously Full Metal Jacket is considered one of the classics. What is the best? One of the best films that you think that really capture? What it's like to be in the military? Even if it's a sci fi movie? They did like they nailed it because I think I've heard aliens is pretty, pretty, like, Rock on.
Jariko Denman 40:40
I love aliens. So my favorite my favorite movie is platoon.
Alex Ferrari 40:47
I had Oliver. Yeah. That's, that's as real as it gets.
Jariko Denman 40:52
Yeah, I mean, there are you know, some technical aspects that are that are weird, but I wasn't in Vietnam also. So yeah, I think just the how it feels, it just feels just, it feels right. In the end, how they they really captured in platoon, they, they showed how you never really, at least in my experience, you'd never really hate your enemy. Like you hate your chain of command. Like you hate your leadership. Right. Right. Right. It showed that in a really thoughtful and beautiful way that like, yeah, these people are trying to kill us but our real enemy is this. And I love that about it. It also you know, it showed how many different walks of life people come from in the military, you know, and those people's strengths and like, you know, you have a you have Chris Taylor, who's a rich college kid and then you have guys you know, who are rednecks or who or whoever and they you see their strengths and their weaknesses and their their their scar tissue from home and their their fears and their hopes all coming together and that and that's what it's like it's it's it's a lot less your experiences they're a lot less focused on the enemy and then the actual fighting as they are in the in the in the mundane in the every day. And that's why I love platoon.
Alex Ferrari 42:32
Yeah, it's had Oliver on the show and we talked about amid the stories he told on Aronoff about how he got that thing made is it's it's insane
Jariko Denman 42:43
it's amazing anything anything that even has a with a patina on it all in jest. I've read all his books, like watched every behind the scenes like I love that. I love that movie. Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 42:53
And there was once I think there's one story that I think it was one of the making of that the that all the all the actors are like coughing up a hill. And they were just dying because he treated them like soldiers. And then he just drove up on a Jeep just like smoking a cigar and just go into set. Yeah. And they're like, this is the frickin general here. This is horrible. And he hated he hated that they hated the command. They hate.
Jariko Denman 43:16
I mean, he nailed it. Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 43:19
Yeah. You got to do it, man. No question. Now. I wanted to ask you about another bout another part of your life where you were on the ground level of Afghanistan when we were when we were leaving Afghanistan over a year ago. But you were like, right there. You were at the gates. You were at the airport. What?
What was that like, man?
Because all I saw, I mean, we all saw the video, we all saw the footage and we saw, you know, people crying and trying to escape, you know, before the Taliban came in? What was that like brother
Jariko Denman 43:50
in it? You know? So it was it was so we just like, I don't know if irony is the right word ironic is the right word, whatever. But I went through, you know, I did all these deployments to Afghanistan, I kind of came back I got the film history. And then, you know, between jobs and stuff, I was just kind of trying to find hustling. So I know schools and stuff. So I got into, you know, doing a little bit of freelance journalism, writing, writing articles, doing a little bit of stuff. And, you know, I was, you know, presented with the opportunity to go to to the gate to the airport during the evacuation, and I thought I was just going to go on a plane, land, watch a bunch of evacuees get on the plane and fly out. Well, then I got there and I realized like no one was going to keep me from getting off the plane. Like I anticipated there being military personnel on the ground. Like I was like, Shit, I'm gonna get off I'm gonna get a better story.
Alex Ferrari 44:49
Once a soldier always a soldier.
Jariko Denman 44:50
Yeah. And because of my background and the you know, the network I have, I was able to kind of get a little bit of a support network there of basically a room to go to and plug my phone into charge it and get a couple hours a rack and, but it was weird because I, you know, I'd spent years kind of deprogramming myself from the things that, like helped me survive there. And then I went back, and it was a lot of the experience was a lot more profound and raw. Right? gunfire and, and things like that were like, Oh, that's a big deal. You know, whereas before it was totally within context, it was never something that like raised my hackles or or got my, my heart rate going. Because it was in context, if that makes sense, like, I'm an award, this is what I'm supposed to doing. But then you go back and you're there with no, no rifle, you're there, you know, as a noncombatant, you don't really affect it, the experience just became a lot more profound. You're a lot more of a human in that not to say that, like, I was a sub human or something like that before, but I was there to do a very specific job and tasks. So I feelings didn't have a big part in my experience, right. But in at those gates, just seeing the, the scale of like human suffering, there was like a really big, profound time. You know, and it took me a little bit of time to unpack that and kind of, like, process it. And, you know, I'm healthy with it now. But, you know, I did have as, as my time there wore on, I was only there about a week. But you know, the first couple days, I was like, Alright, I'm gonna, I'm here to get a story. And then, you know, as you saw, probably in the news, like the evacuation thing started to happen. So people figured out I was there. And I started getting calls and texts and WhatsApp signal messages and, you know, hundreds of messages a day. Hey, my Herbert errors there, my, my so and so is there, whatever. So my, my, my focus shifted from just journalism to helping pull people through those gates. And, yeah, and I did that as long as possible. I had, you know, people on the ground there that were still in the military, I was talking to you, they're like, Hey, you gotta get the fuck out of here. You know, like, we're leaving. So you gotta go. So I left and I left. Kind of right in the nick of time, right before the bomb in that final bombing that happened. I left? About a half hour before that. Really? So you would have been in that area? Oh, yeah. That's where I spent, you know, 80% of my time that whole week was on that abrogate? So, yeah, it's it's crazy. You know, Korea is what movies are made of, you know, and it was everybody, you know, I I had that long Army career, but like, since I've been out I've been like, I'll be, I'll be perspective. Yeah. First, when I have this perspective, I'm like, What the fuck are like, What are you doing, bro? This is weird. This is wild. Like, Choose Your Own Adventure book. And, like, pick the wrong page.
Alex Ferrari 48:14
Exactly. I mean, God, I mean, it's, uh, you're, you're helping as many people as you can. But then, you know, obviously, you can't help everybody because you're getting bombarded with so many messages and things like that. It was heartbreaking to watch from our perspective, I can't even imagine what it was like from you and for others on the ground there.
Jariko Denman 48:34
Yeah, it was, it was it was rough. It was it was it was a it's one of the worst things I've witnessed in my life. Really? Yeah. It's, it's socks. I mean, but, you know, it, it's something like that, being a soldier prepared me for it's like, I don't make policy. You know, I just, I can just do the best I can. So
Alex Ferrari 48:57
and I saw that picture that you took in the in the, in that big giant jumbo carrier with like, you know, 1000 people or whatever behind you. You know, you one of those guys that took me you were one of the people that the news was showing that image around constantly. I mean, you were you were in as they say this shit.
Jariko Denman 49:16
Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, literally, yeah,
Alex Ferrari 49:19
literally. Well, well, I mean, I appreciate you sharing that with us and and doing what you could when you were there, man. I do appreciate that. Now, switching gears to another insanity. Your new film. You're working on? triple seven. Oh, yeah. Yeah, you forgot all about that.
Jariko Denman 49:40
Oh, yeah. Well, you call it I. It is going to be a documentary film that I'm like, I'm not even there yet. Like, my mind. I didn't that part.
Alex Ferrari 49:49
But yeah, so triple seven. Talk to the audience about what triple seven is and what you guys are trying to accomplish with it.
Jariko Denman 49:55
Yeah, so triple seven is seven skydive into the seven continents in seven days, hopefully, to break a world record for seven skydives into seven continents, the current world record is month long, so we're definitely gonna break the world record for the skydiving into the seven continents. I mean, unless I like burn in on continent three or something like that, but it's, it's basically we are doing this as I don't want to call it a stunt. But we're doing a stunt to raise awareness and funds for a, an organization called Folds of Honor Folds of Honor, raises money to give scholarships to Goldstar kids, so kids whose parent was were killed in either combat or as a first responder. And the reason that we're, we're kind of const, there's, you know, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a veteran nonprofit these days, everybody knows. But the reason we picked Folds of Honor is because, you know, the the war has been over for a year now and people are already forgetting. And, you know, if there's a there's a kid out there right now, who's five years old, whose parent was killed in Afghanistan, you know, four, four years ago, okay. And in, you know, 12 years, whatever, whenever that kids applying to college, we're definitely going to have forgotten about these wars. So we're trying to one things are fresh in people's minds go out, do things that are crazy, to raise awareness for this nonprofits, so we can put as much money in their bank as possible. So that as all these kids, you know, it's in the it's in the 1000s of kids whose parents were killed in these wars. So having funds ready for when they hit, you know, those years that they're taken care of? So that's the long and short of that's the why. And the how is you know, it's myself about nine other guys are jumping. former Marines former SEAL Team guys, former SF guys. Yeah. And we're starting in Antarctica on one January.
And this year,
Alex Ferrari 52:08
that's coming up January. Yeah. Yeah. So
Jariko Denman 52:10
about what is that about six, seven weeks away?
Alex Ferrari 52:12
So is it just because I'm not familiar with any articles weather patterns? January 1, hotter, colder?
Jariko Denman 52:22
It's summer there. Yeah. Okay, good. So you did choose that at least. So
so when we jump, if we jump in, you know, around 13 grand, it'll be negative 75 at jump altitude,
Alex Ferrari 52:34
at jump altitude, and then on the ground, it'll be like Hawaii.
Jariko Denman 52:37
Negative 40. Ish.
Alex Ferrari 52:40
Yeah. And that's, that's in the summer. Yeah, yeah. So I have to ask, well, you guys all drunk one night and said, You know what, be fun. Because it sounds like a bunch of guys hanging out shooting pool, drinking and going, what we should do, man, we should just do seven continents and seven days and raise some money for some kids, man,
Jariko Denman 52:59
what do you think? Yeah, yeah, I got brought on a little later. But that's probably exactly what happened.
Alex Ferrari 53:04
Because this is not a same idea. It's it's a fairly, I mean, just to travel alone, and the fatigue on the traveling alone. I mean, I know you're being strategic about where you're going in the world, but still, it's
Jariko Denman 53:16
like, yeah, we'll just drink a lot of coffee, you know, and it'd be fun black rifle coffee. Obvious. Yeah. Yeah, for sure. Yeah, but it's, uh, it is going to be very, very difficult. And like, that's, that's kind of the point. I think, for me, and one of the things in doing, you know, all the social media activations, and then the documentary for me, something that's very important to me, and in being a storyteller is inspiring my generation of veteran to realize that, like, our best days are behind us, like, Yeah, those were the glory, I call them the glory days to it was, you know, I did a lot of live in, but like, we've got so much time left, and we've learned so many lessons, and we've done. So we put so much in our like, life experience bank, we can't waste that. We have to continue to find ways to serve, and you know, hear it, black rifle, we're coffee where I work. That's what we do. We try to go out and inspire veterans inspire young people to find a purpose. You know, find something that really makes you passionate makes you want to do things for that thing that suck. You know, I mean, it's like anyone with their art. It's like being a filmmaker, like, you know, getting that first movie across the line as a filmmaker that almost kills people. And people go work their whole life trying to do that. And but that's what's that's what makes people wake up in the morning is like having a struggle having a purpose. And for me, this is just a great example of that, like, Yeah, it's crazy. But I mean, no one's gonna watch something that ain't crazy. So
Alex Ferrari 54:59
well. I mean, in today's world, I mean, that's for sure you gotta get you got to get attention. Well, I mean, I not only do I appreciate your service, and I thank you for the service as well for all the years and time that you put into your to defending our country. But what you're doing now is, is really that this project seems so wonderful. And I'll make sure to promote it as much as I can, through this interview, and through all my platforms as well, because it's a wonderful charity of what you're trying to do. And I love insanity. Obviously, I do have been in the film industry for close to 30 years. So obviously, I'm not wired well, either. But just, it's just a different kind of rewiring that as needed. You know, I'm going to ask you a few questions, I ask all of my guests, and this is going to be interesting, I'm going to be interested to see what you say about this. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today coming from your experience?
Jariko Denman 55:57
Coming from my experience, I would give them the advice of, you know, a, to use a an analogy, don't be scared, don't like start in the mailroom. Right. Like, I, my first job, I went and shared a hotel room with my buddy because they weren't paying me at first, you know, I mean, you can't, you don't get to skip the line. So drop your ego and start in the mailroom. Even if you're not getting paid to be in the mailroom, like you just got to get your foot in the door and show your value.
Alex Ferrari 56:28
With all the training you've had over the course of your career, is there any lesson that you can pull out of that that can help filmmakers deal with the industry? Because the industry is so absolutely brutal?
Jariko Denman 56:40
Yeah, I guess a couple things. One, being absolute master the basics. That's, that's, yeah, it's something I tell people for everything. You know, in the military, in the Special Operations community, we always said like, we don't do anything special. We just absolutely master the basics. That's the first one. And then the second one is like it's not personal. It's not. It's not. It's not show Friends. It's show business. So get over yourself and realize it's not personal for every time you get your feelings hurt. There's 10 people behind you that won't so thick skin and realize it's not about you.
Alex Ferrari 57:19
Yeah, I mean, you're breaking hearts all around the world right now, sir. I mean, what do you mean, it's not about me and my vision? Come on Jericho. I mean, oh, God, I'm sure you've met a few people along the way. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry in the military or in life?
Jariko Denman 57:40
I guess it would be listening to my own advice. Like I, I take things too, personally.
Yeah, I think it's, it's just realizing that you're a cog in the wheel, you know, and you're replaceable. But, yeah, I think for me, that's the heart. That's been the hardest thing I have to learn every day and not. Not so much. Like I get offended. I take it personally, but I just really care. You know, and sometimes I care too much.
Alex Ferrari 58:18
It's not about you, is you and you and you can be replaced. That's a really tough lesson. Like, because when you're coming up, you're like, I am replaceable, until you get fired. And you're like, oh, there was three other people that could do my job. Using that that special mommy lied to me. Yeah.
Jariko Denman 58:36
I'm not a special snowflake.
Yeah, there's two kinds of people, people whose mom told them they're special too much. And people whose moms didn't tell them they're special enough. Right?
Alex Ferrari 58:45
Exactly. There. You're absolutely right. There's those are two very specific groups of people. And three of your favorite films of all time.
Jariko Denman 58:56
Ooh, that's a that's a tough one. Because you know how like they
Alex Ferrari 58:59
did they always change right now this moment?
Jariko Denman 59:03
Yeah, platoon. Always gonna be number one. I love the film. Big Wednesday. The Wednesday. I love it. Oh, yeah. That's
Alex Ferrari 59:11
a good one. Julius.
Jariko Denman 59:13
Yeah. I can't get through that movie with with dry eyes. I cried.
Alex Ferrari 59:17
That's it. That's a dude movie, though. That's like a Yeah, that's. Oh, it's such a sentimental do testosterone film. Oh, it's spiritual with the waves and offense. Great.
Jariko Denman 59:29
Yeah. Yeah. It's, it's so good. And I think you know, I've been watching Dunkirk a lot lately. And I love the I've been kind of like SPIVA working on a project in my own creative space that has that, you know, those parallel stories. I just the way they did that. And it's also just gorgeous. Like, you can mute that movie and watch it and it's still great.
Alex Ferrari 59:54
It's what's Christopher Nolan. I mean, I mean, I can't wait for Oppenheimer. I mean, who else gets like two? 100 million dollars to make a movie about Oppenheimer. Like, who else is gonna get that no one is really gonna get a move to earn a million bucks and go make an Oppenheimer and he's he's sure to get a black and white too. I think it's like, it's easy. I've seen black and white. I've only seen black and white images of the movie so
Oh, let Chris do what he does. Come on. I mean, it'll be
Jariko Denman 1:00:23
at number three spot. It's constant rotation. But I've been watching. I've just been like, you know, you have to rewatch troubles that come up. Every now and again. And for me right now that's done Kirk.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:34
Brother Jericho. Man, I appreciate you coming on man. And thank you so much for being so raw and honest about your experiences and your story that you're telling and, and the good work that you continue to do, not only in Hollywood to make make these actors and these things look good. But the work you're doing with your new project and, and charity, so I appreciate you brother, where can people find out more about you? And the end? triple seven and and where they can donate if they want to?
Jariko Denman 1:01:00
Yeah, so the triple seven you can find out all about that on legacy expeditions.net Just as it's spelled. And then Jericho Denman I guess Instagrams where I'm kind of like the most active my handle is kind of funny. I made it years ago. It's laid back Berzerker as
Alex Ferrari 1:01:19
an adult, that's amazing. zerker that's all this
Jariko Denman 1:01:25
Yeah, and then you know, I'm currently you know, working now I'm seeing I don't even know my time I make I make long form content for black rifle coffee. So, you know, go on our YouTube channel, check out our work there. We we've done some pretty awesome lifestyle stuff here recently. And then getting ready to start kind of a bigger, bigger lift on this documentary about the triple seven. So yeah. All things on YouTube black rifle coffee. We have podcasts we do all kinds of stuff and then legacy expeditions on that.
Alex Ferrari 1:02:01
Man, you are a busy busy man, man. Your your your retirement is. It's not very relaxing, sir. Yeah, no. I appreciate you again. Man. Thank you so much again for doing doing everything you've done. Ben, I appreciate you.
Jariko Denman 1:02:14
Thanks a lot for having me.
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