By Jake Howell

Mailed on September 25, 2012

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Dear Keith Currie
Gun Wrangler

Dear Keith,

Given your line of work, gun violence must be a difficult reality for you. What was it like working on Blackbird, a film about a school shooting that never actually happens? Films like Elephant _or _We Need To Talk About Kevin want to show carnage and victims and death, but Blackbird means to discuss a larger picture about the subject: the bullying, the judgment, and the hysteria behind empty threats and passionate, ill-fated cries for help. These are things that writer/director Jason Buxton wants to talk about, and I'm guessing you appreciate that.

Surely you've heard of "Chekhov's Gun" - the idea that if you introduce a firearm in the opening act of a story, it must be fired later in the narrative. Otherwise, what would be the point of its existence? Blackbird doesn't truly deviate from this philosophy, as we see a rifle go off in the film's first act. You were no doubt there, behind the scenes, as the woefully-misunderstood Sean Randall (Connor Jessup) is on a hunting trip with his father. It was an important moment, as it shows Randall is uncomfortable with killing innocent life when given the opportunity to do so. He doesn't shoot the deer.

And yet, Sean is made out to be a psychopath in his small-town community. After a series of incidents with the douchebag hockey jocks at school - some of them involving death threats towards Sean - our protagonist becomes fed up, ranting to his only friend over instant messaging about how he'd like to shoot them in retaliation. Naturally, these threats are shown to the proper authorities, and when combined with Sean's gothic appearance and dark taste in music, a judge sends him to straight to juvie.

Your safeguarding expertise was probably also beneficial at the correctional facility. There's a lot of fighting and violence there, too, as Sean becomes subjected to another kind of bullying. Thankfully, these scenes are handled with commendable control, excellent cinematography, and a surprising amount of reserve. It must have been amazing to watch Buxton, a first-time feature filmmaker, shoot with such dominance.

Because there aren't many guns in Blackbird, your job as weapons master was probably over and through fairly quickly. But don't think your work isn't appreciated! This is part of the film's strength. _Blackbird _is a refreshing take on the school shooting subject, because we find resolve through talking things through with patient determination. We know the truth will soon fly free, and Jessup's performance is strong enough to carry the entire film on his shoulders…even if his character gets a little stale here and there.

I must admit that what you do is impressive. Your job requires a fair amount of restraint - the film industry is obsessed with guns and weapons, and you probably feel like a babysitter most of the time. You keep the dangerous toys under your watch at all times. I feel like too many people disrespect the proper safety guidelines when it comes to owning a gun, which is why I applaud individuals like you.

Some call you a wrangler - but I call you a hero.

Yours in safety,


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