Tuesday, August 10, 2021

High School Mass Shooting Drama Wraps in Wisconsin

As first-time filmmaker Calvin Zimmerman explains in his Director's Statement, the idea for Wild Life sparked many years ago, during his senior year at Oconomowoc High School.

When Zimmerman was assigned the debate topic of whether or not teachers should be armed in the classroom, it sent him down a rabbit hole of Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech and more. As a result, he made a short film at that time, which this summer, he expanded into a full-length independent feature drama, under the same title. Principal shooting wrapped last week.

Photo courtesy Instagram

From Zimmerman's Director's Statement:

I was thrown yet another curveball the day that my [high school] film teacher proudly walked into class and announced that a prestigious film school in Chicago was holding a festival for High School students, and we were encouraged to participate! That year’s theme?

The best or worst day of school.

It felt like fate.

I gathered my friends and my fellow film students, and told them what I planned to do. I wanted to portray a fictitious school shooting within the walls of my high school in the most respectful way possible. No violence, no weapons, no shooter. Just the concerned faces of the school’s students as they watched horror unfold offscreen. I could see it so vividly in my head. I knew that I could get my friends to help if I gave them that incentive of having a winning festival film. So, we got to work.

Although the short-film version of Wild Life did not win at the Chicago festival, it became something of a cause célèbre at Zimmerman's Wisconsin high school. He self-financed this year's feature-film version and moved back to Oconomowoc from San Diego for the summer to guide a small crew of about 15. In the feature film, 14 people are killed in a mass shooting incident.

Zimmerman, now 23, told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel he hopes to complete post-production on Wild Life by the end of the year and carry on at that time with the process of submitting it to film festivals.

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