Shadow Company

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Shadow Company
Shadow company poster.jpg
Movie poster for Shadow Company
Directed by Nick Bicanic
Jason Bourque
Produced by Nick Bicanic
Remy Kozak
Andrew Wanliss-Orlebar
Written by Nick Bicanic
Jason Bourque
Starring Robert Young Pelton
P. W. Singer
Music by Andrew Wanliss-Orlebar
Cinematography Jarred Land
Edited by Les Lukacs
Distributed by Purpose Films
Release date
August 23, 2006
Running time
86 min.
Country Canada
Language English

Shadow Company is a documentary directed by Nick Bicanic and Jason Bourque and narrated by Gerard Butler. It is an introduction to the mercenary and private military company industry, concentrating on the role the industry has been playing in recent conflicts. It was released on DVD in August 2006.


The documentary film is not presented with a complete voice narrative nor a linear story-telling structure. Instead, most of the documentary deals with the issues presented in a topical fashion. There are three primary methods that the filmmakers use to organize and present information. The first is through the personal account of a security contractor named James Ashcroft, the second is to pose questions and directly answer them, and the third method is to utilize small case studies. The film contains footage of mercenary and private military soldiers training in Iraq. Director Nick Bicanic was invited to a Senate Committee Hearing to testify on the subject of mercenaries/private military companies on September 21, 2007.

Letters from James[edit]

At certain intervals in the documentary, the audience is read different letter excerpts from a security contractor named James Ashcroft (voiced by Gerard Butler). The letter scenes explain the details of James's work and life in Iraq and a small amount of his personal history. Much of the comedy from the documentary is displayed in these scenes. In addition, the letters serve as an opener and a closer for the interview portions of the documentary.

One scene displays a quick montage of James’s life up to Iraq. The viewer finds out James Ashcroft was a graduate of the University of Oxford. Sometime after graduation, he joined the British military and performed bodyguard work in Milan and Paris later on. When the audience listens to his first letter, they find out that he quit his last job at a law firm before heading to Iraq.

His new line of work in Iraq involves being a security contractor for a reputable private military company. He says he is on a ‘six on three off rotation’, which means he works for six weeks, before getting three weeks of off time, and the letters are written in the six-week time frame. Also, he mentions working out of a villa in the Green Zone, the area where the Coalition Provisional Authority resides.

Ashcroft shares how his firm procures weapons like AK-47s and PKMs from the Sadr City bazaar, and how the US military or his firm deals with insurgents. James Ashcroft's autobiography, Making A Killing, written with the ghostwriter Clifford Thurlow was published by Virgin in the UK in 2006 and the US in 2007.

Part of the proceeds of the DVD sales go to the Cape Community Elementary School in Freetown, Sierra Leone.


Listed in the press release are:[1]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Dallaire, Romeo, Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, Carroll & Graf, 2004

External links[edit]