Interview with Shari Cookson and Nick Doob
How did you two get involved with making this film?
Sheila Nevins, President of HBO Documentary Films, approached us about the project. We met with Sheila and Nancy Abraham with the idea of looking at gun deaths that occurred during a specific time period. We settled on the spring of 2014 because there were a series of shootings that got national attention, including the mass shooting at Isla Vista. But in reality, mass shootings make up only about 1 1//2% of all gun fatalities in the country. The remaining 98% of gun deaths, remain relatively unknown. So the idea was to make a film about everyday people shot in the midst of everyday life. Instead of focusing on the issues or politics surrounding guns, we wanted to simply measure the human toll of gun deaths. We started the process looking at headlines of gun fatalities that spring-- there were a lot of them.
You hadn?t yet landed on your approach of using found footage and social media posts?
Not at first. Looking at all the headlines was overwhelming, numbing. It was hard to really absorb them. Some of the headlines didn?t even have a picture of the person. So we would Google to find a picture. And when we read the headline again, it began to register on a deeper level. We then turned to social media to see what a person might have posted about their lives. Facebook and other sites are a kind of time capsule where the person still exists in way, as they were just a short time ago. Then when we re-read the headline, it really hit us hard. We wanted the film to take that journey--to tell the stories of gun deaths in relation to a person?s life.
How interesting that you thought you were putting together a research reel, but it turned out to be the rough cut of the film that you?d eventually make.
Yes, we searched out all the personal material that that we could find for our subjects that was publicly posted on the internet. We were trying to make our subjects come to life, to make them and their surroundings real.
Are all the photos and videos you used public?
It?s all publicly accessible?the social media and also police material we used.
What are you hoping that people take away from this film? Are you hoping to effect change?
How could you not want that? There?s something that's not right. The thing that I hope, anyway, is that as you watch the film, you build up a sense of outrage. The film is a kind of parade of death and there?s nothing to stop it.