“Dear America” is a short film that takes a personal look at the effects of gun violence on Generation Z. I wanted to create a film that takes the politics out of the argument for a moment to focus on the truth of the issue. Our lawmakers are quick to forget the millions of students attending school in fear of another attack. Adults dismiss our concerns, saying it is unlikely to happen to you. But the truth of the matter is that over 4.1 million students endured at least one lockdown in the 2017-2018 school year. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there were 340 mass shootings in 2018 alone, many of which never make the news. This film is a desperate call for our lawmakers to do something rather than argue in polarizing debates.
Living in Central Florida, I have seen the aftermath of both the Parkland shooting and Pulse Night Club shooting. I have seen our school security increase and “lockdown drills” become “active shooter” drills after Sandy Hook. I have seen schools resume classes just two hours after a student was shot in its hallways. I have seen the flag fly in the middle more than the top. Despite the stress, fear, and despair we all feel, gun violence has become nothing more than an afternoon thunderstorm for students. This realization is what led me write the poem that became the script for the film.
As I began reaching out to other teen actors and filmmakers, I realized there were many similar stories of horrifying lockdowns, close calls, and overall anxiety. Talking to the cast and crew opened my eyes to the magnitude of this new normal. The entire film, from script to post production was entirely done by students aged 19 and younger to show something completely from a student perspective. No generation has ever dealt with gun violence like ours.
Technically, this piece was challenging to create. We had over ten locations to shoot in 2.5 days, and an entire team of 20+ students, many of whom didn’t know much about film and just wanted to support the message. I co-directed the piece with another high school student, Sage Croft, to ensure that the public school perspective was represented. We’ve already seen a flood of comments on Youtube and Facebook from viewers, saying the film has sparked conversations in their family and has helped them to view gun violence in a completely new light.
Dear America was the recipient of the National Student Emmy for PSA in 2019 and the National Coalition Against Censorship's Speak Truth to Power Award. It has over 600k views on Youtube.