This episode features an interview with John Nawoichyk and Michael Mazzocco, graduates from the United States Military Academy at West Point Class of 1993.
John currently serves as the Senior Associate Athletic Director for Cadet Wellness and Operations at West Point. He joined the department in June 2018 after retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel with over 25 years of service in the Army. John holds a Master of Arts in History from Western Illinois University.
Michael is the Founder of Alytic, Inc., providing management and professional services, engineering, analysis and technology development to clients. After graduating from West Point with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, he joined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as an Officer. Michael holds a Master of Science in Engineering Management from the University of Missouri, Rolla.
In this episode, John and Michael talk about the importance of maintaining historical accuracy in film, recreating the West Point experience on the big screen, and working alongside Director Scott Cooper on the set of The Pale Blue Eye.
“I would say in execution one of the biggest questions that we get is, ‘It's winter, John, why are they wearing white pants? Do you forget that? I mean, you only work down the street’. And, there were some decisions that Scott talked through and we worked out, but Scott, like any commander, will make a decision and take a risk on. The white pants I just bring up as a great example and it's because he wanted that iconic West Point look. When you think of West Point, you think full dress over white. So, the grad parade or all the parades. What Scott wanted to do, even though it was in the winter, and some of the old grads have really pointed this out, he wanted that view for everyone to see, and the highest level of dress, and the sharp, crispness of that. As we go through, there were some decisions made that we got to advise on, but were made for the best reasons. And just like any commander, you take in the information, then you make a decision and that's a great example where I think it came out awesome on the film and it really stood out and showed West Point in a good light.” - John Nawoichyk
“West Point taught us to think critically, stay flexible, perform under stress, and cooperate, right? So, we're always solving problems on set. I mean, there were things that came up. We talked about them. And at the end of the day we formed great bonds with people we just met. John and my friendship have never been stronger. So we worked collaboratively, John and I cooperated, and we were in constant communication. So, I'm very humble. I'm honored to represent West Point and have this opportunity, but I guess the biggest success is maintaining my friendships and the professional relationships.” - Michael Mazzocco
(01:50) Involvement with The Pale Blue Eye
(07:11) Working alongside Director Scott Cooper
(10:32) Recreating bootcamp on set
(15:07) Maintaining historical accuracy in film
(19:34) Learnings from the filming experience
(24:01) Overcoming unforeseen obstacles
(29:34) Lightning round
(31:30) Advice for future grads