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Now Streaming: ‘April Showers’

October 20th, 2009 by Rebecca Harper Editor

NOTE: This film will be available for streaming until Monday, Oct 26, 2009 at midnight PST.
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Last spring, Hulu spoke to Andrew Robinson, the writer and director of the new film April Showers. The film, which chronicles the April 20, 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado, is an extremely personal project for Robinson: he was a senior at Columbine that year. His ultimate goal for this film is to empower kids to make a difference, to be proactive and get their voices heard to prevent something like this from happening again. Robinson sought input from school administrators, school boards and teachers to create a film that could reach a wide audience, prompting conversation at home and in the classroom. Below, he shares his insight into the movie, which is now available on Hulu. [Note: the following interview originally appeared in the discussions area for the movie trailer on Hulu.] — Rebecca Harper (), Editor

Hulu: You attended Columbine High and were at school the day of the shootings, so you clearly bring an insider’s perspective to April Showers. Can you talk about that? Where were you when the shooting began?
Robinson:
Well, I was in school and a senior at Columbine on that day. We broke for lunch and, instead of going to the cafeteria for lunch, which I rarely ever did, I went up to the computer lab, which is kind of dead-center in the building. It’s kind of a study hall thing, and I was hanging out with a couple of my friends. They were editing some video projects that they had and I was just there for a second opinion. Apparently the shooting had begun outside in the student parking lot, which is behind several layers of concrete from where we were, so we didn’t hear it. The fire alarm was pulled and you immediately think “We’re two weeks from graduation, it has to be a student prank.” We walked out into the main hallway, which was empty, and within a few moments a whole horde of students came running up the hallway towards us, screaming and yelling “There’s a gun, there’s a gun!” and “They’re shooting people,” stuff like that. So we ducked back into the computer lab and kids were putting themselves into closets and cabinets and hiding under desks. My friends and I just didn’t feel comfortable there. We didn’t want to be in a room if whatever was out there came in there. We were going to be in real trouble, so we left the computer lab and found a way out of the building without encountering any direct gunfire or anything like that.

Is the film told from your perspective?
The film follows about six different points of view. You witness the event primarily through the eyes of the main character, Sean. However, with him as he’s going through the event, are two, three, four other people that, in various stages of the day, kind of get separated and branch off so they have their own unique experiences, and certain experiences that came before the shooting happened, that influence the things that they do during the day. We’ve got some other characters that don’t intertwine with the three main storylines, but you go through it through their eyes and then, at the end, how they all come out the other side — some do, some don’t. The film is not about the shooting. When we were discussing how to film it, I was very adamant that I didn’t really want to stage the shooting in the film, but I knew that I needed to, to some degree, in order for the audience to take the journey with the characters in order for them to understand the rawness of the emotion that they’re going to see onscreen, because that’s one thing the general public doesn’t really see in real life when the news media sweeps in and covers these things. They tend to cover the live pictures of it unfolding, or just after it’s unfolded with a couple of sound bites. Then they bring in experts, but you don’t really see the two dozen, three dozen kids having impromptu gatherings in basements trying to figure out where their lives go from here, or some people having backlash against others, that whole thing. I needed them to see just enough, just enough of the horror to be in the position where our characters and the audience go through the same kind of journey. What you get out of it and how it affects you and how you look to tomorrow is different to each individual, just like in the film.

Was it hard for you to revisit these scenarios? How did this project affect you?
I couldn’t have done this project three years ago, four years ago, five years ago. I’m in a really good place now, emotionally, mentally, everything with regards to that day. I harbor no ill will about the shooting. It is that day, and I’ve come to grips with it.

What was really difficult for me was having to put other people through it, even in a make-believe film sense. But we used 1,500 real high school students. Having to stage these events and talk them through them and get them into that mindset, to put them there and to watch their reaction… after a while, people on the crew were saying “These extras are really good actors,” but I said “I don’t think they’re acting. I think they’re feeling it. What you’re seeing is genuine.” It was hard to all of a sudden be a spectator to this because I went through it and wasn’t able to see it. Now I’m orchestrating it and being a spectator, watching people as it plays out this thing in my life. That was difficult because, I know when we came to town and were looking for extras, everyone was like, “Oh, I’m gonna be in a movie.” But it’s not a Zac Efron movie. A lot of kids, the first day they’re on the set were like, “Oh, we’re in a basement… it looks like a house party scene!” Meanwhile, I’m telling them “No one’s talking. You’re all fixated on the TV.” Then I start describing the images that are on the TV, which the audience never sees because their faces tell you the whole story. Just watching them go there and imagine all of this… It was difficult to have to do that to kids. At the same time, as we kept filming, you could see a bond growing. You could see people reaching out to one another. We had several different schools participate and so it was just really cool at the end of it. You saw these kids go through a transformation without having to lose friends to do it.

Last comment: Jul 1st 2014 1 Comment
  • Amanda says:

    First I would like to say that April Showers was a very touching, complex and very well portrayed. The movie changed my idea of what happened on that day, the truth of what happened. I was in junior high school at the time and could not grasp the true rawness of what transpired. The media made it all about one person, what he had done and their ideas of why he did it. The actuality was it wasn’t about one person, but hundreds and the reasons of why could never change what happened. Though it was such a negative time, I am very glad Andrew Robinson could show the positive growth and bonds that held through the harshest of times. An absolutely wonderful film!

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