Jake Lefferman and Emily Taguchi (‘After Parkland’ directors): Doc about school shootings hopes to ‘get people focused on solutions’ [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

“It was certainly a story that wasn’t going away and the community wasn’t letting the nation forget what happened,” explains Jake Lefferman about the heartbreaking new documentaryAfter Parkland.” The ABC Documentaries film, co-directed by Emily Taguchi, explores the immediate aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School which killed seventeen people and became the deadliest school shooting in American history. In our exclusive interview (watch the video above), Lefferman and Taguchi explain the film’s impact as well as their approach to capturing the devastating impact of the tragedy on the survivors and the victims’ families.

The film focuses on the grief of the victims’ families, particularly the parents of several murdered students. Taguchi says that her goal was to be as respectful as possible to the families as they mourned the loss of their children. “I think it’s about making sure we were giving the families the space that they needed to have when they asked for it,” Taguchi explains. “We tried to be as respectful as possible for whatever they were going through that day.”

Several survivors also participate in the film, and the filmmakers made sure that those students’ parents were always involved in the process. As a result of capturing those raw emotions, Lefferman and Taguchi explain how they couldn’t help but be caught up in the emotions of their subjects. Taguchi describes one of her first interviews with Sam Zeif, a survivor whose best friend died in the massacre, as “a gut punch.”

The film also explores political ramifications of the Parkland shooting. In one of the film’s most emotional moments, Zeif is shown meeting with President Trump, tearfully imploring him to take action on gun reform. We also see how the lack of government action in response to these school shootings fuels the survivors to mobilize politically to tackle the issue themselves. But Lefferman stresses that the politics and the emotions related to these shootings are the catalysts towards combating these mass shootings. “Hopefully if you understand a little more about the humanity,” Lefferman proclaims, “maybe we can encourage a dialogue and get people focused on solutions.”

“After Parkland” has just been picked up for theatrical distribution, which will also include what Taguchi calls a “really robust educational component.” The filmmakers hope this will help the film’s message reach a larger audience as well as create a larger conversation about the issue of gun violence. “We are really excited about the opportunity to take the film into the country,” Taguchi exclaims, “and we really hope that it stimulates some dialogue about this issue.”

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