“I was a new parent at the time of the Parkland shooting,” explains “Mass” writer/director Fran Kranz about what inspired his feature film debut behind the camera. “I quickly sort of assumed it was because I was a new parent, but it was a little confusing as well, and I felt this need to look deeper into it and why I was so rattled by it.” We talked with Kranz for our “Meet the Experts” Film Writers Panel. Watch our exclusive video interview with the filmmaker above.
“Mass” is set in a church where the parents of a school shooter (Ann Dowd and Reed Birney) meet with the parents of one of the victims (Martha Plimpton and Jason Isaacs) to try to process their grief. This approach to the subject of gun violence drew inspiration from restorative justice programs like South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which Kranz learned about as a teenager. “I thought it was incredible,” he says, “but I thought also that I did not know how or if I could participate in something like that. At that age I thought I would need retribution, I would need punishment. And these things kind of circled back as a new parent some 20 years later.”
So “it became clear to me that I wanted to tell a story about pain and how we live with it,” but how does one “get through a conversation like this, and what is that conversation?” Kranz’s approach to the script was to immerse us in that conversation in “real time,” without flashbacks or inserts breaking the tension in that room. He “wanted to embrace the ordinary” and “tell that story that grief is something that we live with, and we live with it in the ordinary times as well.”
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