An American Terror is on DVD and VOD. We spoke to the film's captain, Haylar Garcia, about bringing this tense tug into shore.
How did this one begin for you? What was the appeal?
As a Colorado native, the Columbine tragedy has always lurked in mind, and when I felt the need to make a horror film that actually meant something, it kind of felt like a no brainer. We like to think of it as using genre horror to explore social horror.
The story fixes on a school shooting, but I think the film might be best described as an “anti-school shooting” movie. Would you agree?
Yes, I think we explore the really strange idea behind school shooting in a very real way, but in the end this film is about darkness and eventually wanting to leave that behind.
Being that it does combine real world elements with that of a genre movie, I’m interested in hearing some of the feedback you’ve received?
Well as you might imagine the film can seem somewhat controversial to certain audiences, but in the horror community and to people who have been bullied we have received very positive responses. I think the film really strikes a nerve with people that have at some point thought that their only option was to strike back. I hope the film exposes the other options to such desperate actions and reinforces how strong we really can be in the face of fear or bullying. The film is about becoming a hero which is far more difficult than becoming a monster.
What made Colorado the perfect setting for the film?
We of course, there's columbine and more recently the James Holmes theater shooting. We have had out share of postal type tragedies. I felt it was important to make my home state the setting because the film as you know has a positive side. and although we travel to very dark places in the film to get there, I wanted Colorado to be the setting (however fictional) for that positive energy.
Did you meet the parents of any of the actors you used? Were they at all concerned about their kids’ playing these sorts of roles?
We had the fortune of meeting almost all of our actor's parents, and I can only assume that some perhaps might have been concerned. But in the end, the film seeks to change things, and I think the cast and their respective loved ones felt that form the script. We are forever grateful to everyone involved who saw past controversy.
Is there anything you’d like to have done for the film, but couldn’t, due to the budget or another factor?
The end stunt involving the junker was originally written as a two part kill and far more grand, we had to change things due to an inability to secure the correct location for something so dangerous, but I am happy with how the alternative came out.
Getting serious for a moment, what do you think – if anything – can be done about the school shootings, and violence within our schools?
Seriously, I believe its about letting kid know that you can be stronger than a bully. That you are not alone and most importantly, no matter how victimized, or misunderstood you feel, no matter how small or terrible your life seems to be, that violence or snapping is never the way. As you might imagine, as a filmmaker, I think of almost everything in movie terms. So my advice to kids who feel like their back is against the wall is this: Imagine your situation is a movie. No one is rooting for the bully, they are always rooting for the the victim. But as soon as you pick up the gun, and hurt people, you become the villain. There is so much life to be lived after the pressure of school... just hold out for your second act, it will be here sooner than you think.