2015-2019 were the deadliest years
for mass murder in US history, with the most shootings, deaths, and casaulties ever recorded.
AHS is a feature documentary designed to help us better understand, heal from, and prevent mass shootings. It is based on the premise that we are stuck, and that the path to getting unstuck involves opening our minds, looking in new directions, and asking new questions.
In the 20 years since the attack on Columbine High School, mass shootings have only gotten worse. Reducing the problem to the false dichotomy of guns vs mental health has done nothing to alleviate the violence. Yet we continue to have the same reactions and debates in the aftermath, expecting a different result and getting no where. Instead of asking "Why?" AHS asks "Why are we still asking 'why'?"
In order to spark new ideas, AHS shines a light on people on the front lines, experts and civilians alike, who are working to end the cycle of escalating mass violence. Their messages and stories offer invaluable insights and hold a mirror up to society, asking the audience to question their own role and dares them to believe they can be part of the solution.
More than a documentary, AHS is a call to action for viewers to become participants in creating a less violent future. Once we stop looking for simple problems and silver-bullet solutions, we start to appreciate the complexity of the confluence of issues at hand and a plethora of new solutions comes to light.
ACT I - Trauma
20 years after the attack on Columbine, mass shootings are at an all-time high and nothing we've done to stop them has worked.
Act I sets out to discover how we've been impacted by years of escalating violence, and why we seem incapable of progress. Psychologists explore the effects of cascading traumas on our society, destroying the sanctity of public spaces and affecting all our mental health. Their penetrating insights are mixed with astounding archival materials, a virtual timeline, info graphics, and news clips. AHS includes perspectives from all the stakeholders, including the perpetrators, whose identities and lives are often ignored, in order to shed light on how the phenomenon has impacted all of us.
~ The Violence Project shares their groundbreaking study, reveals our misconceptions & highlight the warning signs
~ 20 year old Nathaniel Jouett reflects on the factors leading him to shoot 6 people at his local library, while serving a life sentence
~ Psychiatrist Dr. Bessel van der Kolk discusses the way our bodies and minds are impacted by trauma and how we can heal
~ Fredrick Brennan, founder of 8chan, a cesspool for mass shooters, talks about the dangers of the web’s dark subcultures
ACT II - The Obstacles
Terms & Confusion
There is no single perfect term or definition to describe the unique type of mass murders our society is grappling with.
A variety of organizations are tracking data according to their own criteria, creating wildly different pictures of the frequency
of mass shootings. The etymology of the words used to describe mass murders reveals a colorful history of global mass murders.
An examination of the impact of direct and indirect trauma on individuals and on society. The after effects continue to play out in our lives at school, at home, at work, and online reveals how it affects our brains, creating a state of constant hyper-arousal that changes how we react to everything and view the world. A balloon popping or a car backfiring can instantly trigger us into a state of fight-or-flight for our survival.
Are we being lied to? Is our sanity less important than ratings? Experts break down how the media’s preferences for certain types of attacks distorts our perceptions, creates false narratives, feeds our worst fears, and encourages politicians to rush sloppy legislation into new laws. Myths and misinformation about mass murders run rampant in the media and through analysis we can see how it has failed and traumatized our society.
ACT III - Participants
AHS calls upon it's audience to be participants in creating a less violent future, empowering them with practical advice from thought leaders across a variety of sectors.
A less violence future begins with raising awareness of the underlying factors, being able to recognize the warning signs, and knowing where and how to seek help. School safety directors discuss learning from past mistakes such as severe punishments for at-risk youths like expulsion which further isolates them.
Aaron Stark’s TED Talk “I Was Almost a School Shooter” highlights the importance of outreach to at-risk youth as opposed to reporting them to the police or FBI, a tactic which has skyrocketed in the recent years.
Empowerment starts with seeing ourselves not as victims, but as participants with power to create change. AHS showcases leading organizations and activists across various sectors in mental health, suicide prevention, domestic violence, and support for veterans and teenagers. Experts share best practices and recommend a variety of ways people can get involved to strengthen their communities.
Scarlett Lewis lost her son Jesse in the attack on Sandy Hook Elementary, and today she honors his memory by championing his message of Nurturing, Healing Love through the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement, a non-profit organization that promotes Social & Emotional Learning (SEL) in K-12 schools across America
and the globe. SEL teaches kids courage, gratitude, forgiveness & compassion.
"Now is the time to understand more and fear less."
- Marie Curie
The worst thing we can do as a society is accept this violence as the new norm, or believe that it could never happen to us.
AHS is about opening our minds to what we can, and must do, in order to shift the tide. Our goal is to foster a sustained, informed, and broader conversation about how to address mass violence in the US that transcends politics and unites us in our common goal to see a reduction in mass murders.
Utilizing screenings of the film as an opportunity to spark a much needed yet challenging dialogue with audience members and viewers at home and in the classroom, AHS will be presented virtually and in-person with responsibly moderated post-screening panel discussions with the filmmakers and our expert cast members alike.