message from Tom Brown Jr. about The Hunted
I am happy to report that "The Hunted", starring Tommy Lee
Jones and Benicio Del Toro, a Paramount Pictures film that I was the
technical advisor for, will make it to the big screen on March 14.
By now, you may have read about the movie. If not, you will very
soon. The featured article in the Spring 2003 True Tracks focuses on the
movie and my involvement with it. I am proud to say that many of the
skills we teach at Tracker School, such as tracking, hand drill,
stalking, camouflage and more - are prominently highlighted in the film.
I especially enjoy a scene in the movie when the Tommy Lee Jones
character saves a wounded wolf.
As the technical advisor I worked very closely with the director,
Billy Friedkin, to ensure the authenticity of the survival skills
showcased, as well as other aspects of the movie, including those scenes
I also need to remind you that the movie is Rated R for violence, and
ask you to keep in mind that while I was the technical advisor and that
the Tommy Lee Jones character is based on me, the director determines
the ultimate flow of the film.
I like to put it this way. I created the colors of choice for Billy
Friedkin, who then designed and painted the picture.
Enjoy the movie!
-- Tom Brown Jr.
Two brief clips of Tom
talking about The Hunted
Both clips are in MOV format (requires Apple Quicktime)
with Tom Brown Jr. about The Hunted
Bullz-eye.com Movie Reviews
Matt Saha, along with other members of the press, recently sat down
with Tom Brown, Jr. to talk about "The Hunted." Tom Brown, Jr.
is a survivalist and tracker who served as technical advisor to the film
and as role model for the Tommy Lee Jones character, L.T. Bonham. He has
been in the business for 25 years teaching people throughout the United
States about survival and is the successful author of such books as The
Press: How did you get involved with "The Hunted"?
Tom Brown, Jr.: Billy Friedkin and I go back about a decade. He
was originally gonna make a movie about my life -- we worked together
and stayed in touch. He started "The Hunted" and asked me to
give Benicio and Tommy my skills. So I started with the metaphor of the
knives. If you notice, Tommy has a stone knife, which says a lot about
the man. He is primitive and a survivalist much like I am. I teach
people to go with nothing and build everything ground up and I gave
Benicio the tracker knife, as his character is not as adept in the woods
as Tommy’s is.
Press: The tracker knife is your invention. How did you come to
Tom Brown, Jr.: An old reporter asked me if I had to take only
one tool from civilization into the woods what would it be? I said a
knife, so seven years and thirty prototypes later you have the tracker
knife -- anything for any situation -- it can be used as a saw, a skinning
blade, it is perfectly balanced so you can throw it like a tomahawk.
Unfortunately in the movie you see only 2% of its applications, the rest
of the time you see it as a fighting device.
Press: Was the story line in the film close to your life?
Tom Brown, Jr.: The story line is fabricated, but parts happened
in my life. A guy I trained went bad and I had to track him down and
that is the toughest because when you are tracking someone who knows
your skills you start playing a deadly chess game.
Press: Did you find the guy?
Tom Brown, Jr.: Yeah, he found me. I got shot in the back. I
realized the mistake at the last minute, but it was nice because the
bullet neatly passed through me without doing much damage. He shot me
and I hit him hard. He was a military guy and then CIA and then he hired
out to other countries. They blamed me, so they said go find him.
Press: Are the tracking skills depicted in the film realistic?
Tom Brown, Jr.: All the skills are true. Friedkin first had to
see everything in reality before he did it in the film. I taught Tommy
how to make a stone knife. The camouflage, the stalking and the tracking
are real, but then there are the latitudes that movies take that pisses
me off. I mean I can teach a beginning student how to track a wolf that
has a trap on it, and to dig down in the snow to find a winter rosette
that can be chewed into a poultice that can be used as an antibiotic,
but you are not going to get close to a wolf in that state in 2 minutes,
maybe 2 months, yes. And the bloody knife fight at the end -- no way it
would last 4 minutes, any of those wounds are lethal. I wanted to be
proud of the film, but I made the paint, I am not the artist, the
director is, and the finished product is his.
Press: How much can you teach someone off the street about
Tom Brown, Jr.: Well there are 36 levels to my classes. In the
basic class, after a week I can teach you to survive with nothing. I
will teach you to be more aware than you have ever been in your life and
to be able to track a mouse across a gravel driveway. It is so easy to
teach these skills, if you know what to look for. Here we have this
saying, “survival of the fittest,” that works for animals, but for
humans it is what you know.
Press: You used to train military personnel, but supposedly
you left out of guilt, what happened?
Tom Brown, Jr.: I stopped training the military for awhile. Most
of my classes are general public, but I did train elite military groups.
I thought I was teaching them how to evade, escape, like downed pilots
behind enemy lines, but I found they were using this stuff to become more
efficient killers and that created a moral dilemma in me. Only with 9/11
did I come back to that because my brother-in-law was the first flight
officer on the United flight that hit the World Trade Center, and I
realized then that enemy now was far different from the enemy of the
past. But we screen candidates very carefully. I don’t want to train
Press: How about the killing training in the movie?
Tom Brown, Jr.: I went through the same dilemma as Tommy. I didn’t
say stab here, here, and here, but where he says most people who he
killed didn’t know he was in the same room as him -- that’s what I do.
Press: How did you start out in tracking?
Tom Brown, Jr.: My best friend -- his grandfather was an 83 year old
Apache, from the Southern Lipan peoples in Northern Mexico. I met him
when I was 7 and for nearly eleven years, I picked his brain. He became
my best friend and he possessed everything I wanted to know about the
Press: Do you use Native-American traditions in your training?
Tom Brown, Jr.: Yes, some of my classes demand use of the
Native-American philosophy. Like the pressure-release system which he
taught me -- it is miniature landscapes found inside a track and each
little feature depicts a body function. His people identified over 4,500
Press: There is an interesting comment in the film, the Del Toro
part says to the hunters -- are you guys tough, you need those big guns?
And he uses a knife, is that your philosophy?
Tom Brown, Jr.: Right, you pull off a gun in the woods and
everyone knows where you are. Funny story down in South America -- they
gave native peoples a rifle to kill monkeys and when they came back a
year later only two bullets had been used and they asked why. The tribe
said they killed one monkey and it chased the rest away. To me a lot of
times a gun is a liability.
Press: Are you a hunter?
Tom Brown, Jr.: No, only when I have to in extreme need.
Press: If you sent somebody in the woods with only one thing,
what would you give them, string, matches?
Tom Brown, Jr.: I wouldn’t give them anything. There are 23
different ways to make a fire without matches. You could find everything
out there -- bones, stone. It gives them freedom and proficiency.
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informal connection to the Tracker School or Tom Brown Jr. whatsoever