Colorado Teen Documents Dad’s PTSD, Family’s Pain, In ‘After War’

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Documentary After War Bailey Francisco
Bailey Francisco produced "After War," a documentary that chronicles his father's struggle with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and its impact on their family.

As a little boy, Bailey Francisco remembers having an “awesome” dad. But when Bailey was 6, his father, Michael, went to war. When Michael Francisco returned to the family home outside Colorado Springs he had a traumatic brain injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He was erratic, angry and violent.

Once, Michael took Bailey to a Denver amusement park and drove home drunk with the boy in the backseat of the car. Another time, when the two had a fight, Michael grabbed his son and pointed a knife at his throat.

Bailey Francisco recounts those stories in a documentary he produced while he was in high school. It's called "After War."

His father, "went from a stud, like, athlete -- funny, just awesome dad -- to barely human,” Francisco says.

In the film Francisco asks his father how PTSD changed him: “You’re not who used to be,” Michael Francisco says, speaking about himself. “And (it’s) just dealing with that fact.”

The younger Bailey also interviews his mother, Stephanie Blackburn, about the heartache caused by his father's return. “I think it’s been really hard for you,” Blackburn tells her son. “Your life has changed very much...It makes me really sad for you.”

These days, Francisco's dad is doing much better. Father and son talk every day and see each other often.

Bailey Francisco produced the film as part of the Youth Documentary Academy program in Colorado Springs. He recently returned from a trip to Washington D.C. where he and other academy students showed their work to members of Congress. "After War" also screened at the Boulder International Film Festival, among other venues, and Francisco received the 2014 “Rising Star” award from the Pikes Peak Arts Council for his work. He’s just finished his freshman year at Colorado State University.

Bailey Francisco spoke to Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner.


Colorado Matters recently spoke with another Youth Documentary Academy student, Antreise Lacey, about her film "Shade."

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