HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- The long days of the pandemic are forcing folks to find new pastimes. At one home off of Lauderdale Drive in Henrico’s West End, the Roberts brothers have tackled a DIY project like no other.
Chase, Luke, and Van, with help from dad Steve, are hands-on with history.
They’re building a replica Tiger Tank from World War II.
This is not for a class assignment, the custom wood and plastic tank is an essential prop for their passion.
“War Bloods” is a WWII short film series shot, produced by, and staring the siblings. A small army of neighbors and classmates round out the cast.
The D-Day landings and Battle of the Bulge are recreated on the sands of Virginia Beach to the thick woods of Goochland.
“We take it very seriously because we have limited time,” Chase said.
The series follows a group of American soldiers across Europe in 1944.
“We do a lot to make it look authentic,” Chase added.
The two-year-old production has attracted fans that would make Hollywood movie maker envious.
“We want every episode to be better with a better storyline, better props, better everything,” Chase said.
The 14 episodes have generated more than 3.7 million views on YouTube.
“We have fans from Russia. Germany. Brazil. You name it,” the boys' father Steve said. “India. Saudi Arabia.”
Post-production doesn’t require a big production house. Chase adds special effects using an iPhone app.
“It is very intense and stressful,” he said.
From start to finish one 10-minute episode takes several weeks to produce.
“It's awesome because it makes you feel like you’re actually in movie production,” Chase said.
The 13-year-old said getting it right historically was essential.
A growing collection of uniforms, weapons, and helmets has transformed their home into a small armory.
While some critics have commented that young boys should not be glorifying war, the boys said the series was about honoring veterans who sacrificed so much.
“We’re not promoting warfare,” Chase said. “We’re just trying to recreate history and experience what the soldiers saw and felt.”
“We love America and we want to honor her history and this is one way to do it,” Steve added.
Luke, 12, said making accurate WWII movies was far more productive than some other boyhood hobbies.
“When you’re playing a video game you’re sitting on the couch with a controller in your hand playing something that someone else created,” Luke said. “With this, you’re actually living in the video game or something like that.”
Chase doesn’t see him pulling the plug on the series. In fact, he’s considering a career in film.
Playing with little green army men this is not. For the Roberts family, their movie making magic has proven to be a true Band of Brothers.
The Roberts Brothers have 20,000 dedicated followers on YouTube.
Their latest episode already has nearly 150,000 views and growing.
Episode 15 is already in the works where their homemade tank is expected to play another big role.
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