Writer-director Fran Kranz and cast members Reed Birney, Ann Dowd, Jason Isaacs and Martha Plimpton promised nervous audiences that their school-shooting drama Mass is a hopeful one. They spoke with Deadline’s Antonia Blyth at The Contenders Film: Los Angeles event Sunday.
“It’s about finding a path forward,” Kraz said. “It’s about trying to move through something. I wanted to tell a story about forgiveness and reconciliation because I want to feel more of it.”
Plimpton and Isaacs play the parents of a shooting victim. Birney and Dowd play the parents of the shooter, who also died in the attack.
“We think, ‘I could never deal with something like this’ and in fact you can, if you want to,” Birney said. “That’s really the difference. You’ve got to want to.”
Mass filmed in a Covid-safe bubble. The entire film takes place in a meeting room in which the four parents sit at a table. Dowd said the subject matter touched her as she coped with the pandemic.
“There is always hope even in unimaginable circumstances,” Dowd said. “Doing this film taught me that and now, in the middle of where we all are, it gives me tremendous comfort.”
Isaacs gets that the subject matter might feel too intense for some viewers but said he hopes they’ll trust the filmmakers to bring them to a positive place.
“I know that sometimes audiences are scared to watch this film because they think it will take you through grief,” Isaacs said. “It will take you through things emotionally, but it brings you to a place of hope.”
Plimpton said she avoided researching parents of mass-shooting victims because she felt her character was specific to Kranz’s script.
“He had been so painstaking in working on it that I just felt Gail’s story was enough,” Plimpton said of her character. “I know others might have done it differently, but that was what it was for me.”
Dowd offered further reassurance for apprehensive viewers.
“It’s a safe movie, my dears,” Dowd said. “Don’t worry. You’ll be OK. You’ll feel better, promise.”
Check out the panel video above.
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