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Filmmaker Letter

Filmmaker Letter


by writer/director Fran Kranz

I never dreamed of making a movie in a room. I grew up loving Star Wars. The movie I’m probably most excited to see this year is Dune. I also can’t wait to see Ridley Scott direct a medieval duel. As long as I can remember I’ve dreamed of making big movies.

Twenty years ago, when I was in college, I saw a documentary called Long Night’s Journey into Day. It told the story of four amnesty hearings during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission at the end of Apartheid in South Africa. I watched parents forgive the people who murdered their children. It upset me. I didn’t think I could do that. I believed if that happened to me, I would be sentenced to a life of heartbreak and hate. I never forgot that feeling and the fear that film gave me.

On February 14, 2018, I pulled my car over onto a side street off Santa Monica Blvd in West Los Angeles. I could no longer focus on driving as I listened to a parent of a child at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School wail against the inexcusable horror and senselessness of what had happened there that day. I stopped, unable to do anything else, and listened. I was angry and afraid. I had a daughter just over one year old and the fear of that life sentence crept back up inside of me.

Meetings like the one depicted in Mass happen more often than I realized. What compelled me to make a movie about one was that at the core of these stories is the essential need for salvation from pain, from hate. I can think of nothing more desperately urgent or human in the aftermath of tragedy. Not long after that day in February I knew this was a movie I had to make.

I worry about our divided country. I like to imagine it repaired. I don’t know if I’m capable of what my characters do in Mass, but I like to believe in their actions, nonetheless. I like to watch them do the extraordinary; to sit at a table with an enemy in order to find a path forward. I worry that if we can’t collectively strive for this, we further close the door on our own survival.

These are thoughts that moved me through the journey of making this movie. They kept me up at night and they got me back to work when I didn’t think I could work anymore.

I never dreamed of making a movie in a room, but making Mass never felt that way. The film, for me, is at the meeting place of all my hopes and fears. It’s at the center of what it means to be alive, the fragility of it, and the unquestionable need to persist through it no matter what’s lost.

Posted October 1, 2021

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