Columbine: Wounded Minds

Columbine: Wounded Minds

Plotting. Scheming. Planning.

by Samuel J Granillo on 10/19/12

10.19.12

Our next stop is Los Angeles, but we need funding first! No we didn't hit the big time, but we do need to travel out there to visit our good friend Richard Castaldo. For those of you who don't know his story, he was injured during the Columbine shooting and is now paralyzed from the waist down. His situation is a crucial detail to the story to help show other kinds of long term affects that many may not think of in the early stages of healing. Early money distribution plays a role in his current situation that is also shared by many others. We can see some alarming parallels with the handling of funds filtered in for the Aurora theatre shooting. Our trip will give us all a bigger cross section of these important issues, and will also open new doors that will expand our journey to find healing. If we can raise a good chunk of change, around $5,000, I think we can pull this off with out any problems. 

I've recently had the pleasure of talking to Crystal Woodman Miller, a Columbine survivor and long time classmate, who has had the amazing experience of traveling all over the world to not only share her story, but to help others and build strong self sufficient communities. I look forward to continuing filming with her. There are many others still to interview, but there just maybe an end in sight with a pinhole light at the end of the tunnel.

Make sure you check out our PRESS page to see all the awesome coverage revolving around this film project.

Time to work on the next fundraiser!

I hope you all are having the most spectacular fall season ever,

Sam

FILMING IN SEATTLE

by Samuel J Granillo on 08/13/12


Well hello there fellow followers, supports, friends, family and newcomers! Welcome to another lovely blog post to catch you up on where we are on our journey.

The past couple of weeks have been really intense and draining for all of us. July 20th affected all of us and on a personal level kicked me in the gut of my soul. Many innocent people lost their lives, even more were injured and every single individual, having been there or not, will be left with mental scares that will last a lifetime. It reminds us the importance of the healing, counseling, therapy and a better solution for the future. The tragedy happened just 3 days before our trip to Seattle, which changed the entire path of production.

The plane ride out there was pretty classic. There was a man on the flight who we dubbed 'casual flight man' who stood in the isle facing backwards talking to the person in the seat behind him for the entire flight! Nice to see that he flies SO frequently that he can casually do whatever he likes. On this trip I went with Benjamin Garst (camera op) and Anne Banister (field producer). At one point we decided to watch the first episode, season 2, of Louis C.K. I don't want to ruin it for anyone, but the punch line left us laughing so hard that everyone on the plane turned around to look at us, and we also woke-up a man sleeping a few rows back. I needed a good laugh.

DAY 1 was pretty packed. The plan was to meet up with Kristina, set up some lighting in her apartment, grab some food, go do an interview at Fox Q13 and then head back to her place to do a formal interview. What I hadn't planned on was calling Kristina and then quickly being invited to meet up at Cafe Racer to be introduced to and injured survivor Len Meuse, who Kristina hadn't yet met either. 2 months ago, there was a horrible shooting rampage in Seattle, and out of everyone who was injured, Len was the only survivor. I don't want to get into the details, but you can read about it more here: http://goo.gl/muVnZ 

I was beyond amazed to learn that Len was already back to work. He told us his story, we shared hugs and tears, but before we were on our way we decided that it would be good for the both of us to try and meet up later on in the week and have a chat over a couple of beers. The community that supports Cafe Racer is like a family I had never scene before. It seems that everyone knew each other, and it felt exactly like hanging out in someones house that happened to also have a cafe in it. I found out that the grand reopening was on July 20th. It was pouring buckets of rain, and of course the media was there. Everyone expected that there would be media there for the reopening, but the first question that came out of their mouth was unexpected. Instead of "Congratulations on the reopening of the cafe," they asked "What do you think about what happened in Aurora today?" Completely caught off guard and unprepared, I can only imagine how intense that must have felt. Things are still way too fresh over there. They had been really preoccupied with reopening, so they actually had no idea what had happened in Aurora. I can't believe that they would put that kind of weight on them during such an important step in the process of healing. Maybe I can.

It was amazing meeting Len though, I hope that we stay in touch over the years. 

After hanging out at Cafe Racer for a bit, after traveling, after having the longest weekend of my recent life, my brain was melted. On top of that my emotions were drained, and my energy was artificially powered. Now it's time to head over to Fox to do a LIVE interview with Kristina. We got some sweet behind the scenes footage, but you can watch the video broadcast here: http://goo.gl/NiyCi 
I'm pretty sure you can tell how drained I am by looking at my eyes...

After the live interview, we headed back over to Kristina's house and sat down for a more formal interview. Both of our nerves were pretty high strung, so we decided to have a glass of wine with our interview. She told me her story, which was more than I could have ever prepared for, but I was in a comfortable space with great people, and I'm glad I learned more of what happened at Virginia Tech. Up until now I have denied myself full exposure to everything that happened because I wasn't sure I ever wanted to know the full details. I knew it would just be too much. Fortunately this was the right time and place to finally learn the event at my own pace. We talked for hours and finally wrapped up or first day of filming around midnight. Quite the first day.

DAY 2 was a bit more relaxed. We got up early and filmed Kristina going out for her morning run, taking care of some business for the Koshka foundation, and prepping for the fundraiser that is taking place later in the evening. Kristina awesomely took it upon herself to throw a fundraiser just for me and my film. It was unbelievably touching and we raised about $2,000! At the event, we shared our stories, talked about Columbine: Wounded Minds. and showed people some of the raw footage from our day before. Len came to the event too which made me really happy. I don't know what it was like for him to experience us opening up, but I hope that it helped him somehow. A couple of friends from Columbine and some others from Colorado, who now live in Seattle, came to the event. It's always great to see a familiar face and I'm beyond thrilled to have had them there. Fox Q13 did a follow up which you can watch here: http://goo.gl/wf87m and KING5 also did a piece: http://goo.gl/oQLRa

We raffled a bottle of wine at the end of the event and the winner, Marlis DeJongh, instantly decided right then and there that she would throw us yet another fundraiser later in the week. She is a victim of gun violence and our event inspired her to start her very own support peer group. It's amazing to see the changes in action and that we are inspiring others to make a difference.

As the night winded down and everyone left, we had realized that we hadn't eaten since breakfast. We went out to a great restaurant called 'Palace' and had a terrific late night meal. After that, we stayed up until about 2am discussing the project and everything that has come our way so far this week.

DAY 3 was pretty amazing. We filmed a bit of a recap of the fundraiser, walked and talked through a local city garden, and explored different parts of Seattle together while continuing our conversations from the past couple of days. The night came way too fast, and Kristina had to part ways with us to attend a family event across the country. It was sad to see her go having shared so much with each other over a short amount of time and invading her house with our  busy bodies and equipment, but I'm really happy to know that I have a great new friend and an inspiring individual who is making a difference in the world in my life.

DAY 4 we hung out with and interviewed Christine Bell, a Columbine graduate who now lives in Seattle. We had some really great conversations as she too showed us around town. We got some great B-roll of the city and in the evening we re-met up with Len and we had a chat over some beers. Kristina knew that him and I loved fancy beers and she bought us each a specialty bottle. We decided to take these to some steps outside of an apartment complex and crack them open. We cheersed and shared a few more bits of life experience under the glow of a streetlight. As the bottles emptied, and as the night got late, it came time for us to part ways. We had a solid hug and went along our way. He's a great man, and I hope to stay close with him. I'm so happy that I was able to connect to Len and the Cafe Racer Community. Originally I was hoping to try and connect to that community, but was unsure how to even go about it. It wasn't in my plans before I came out to Seattle. I had dropped the idea because I didn't know if it was even possible to get in touch with someone, or if it would even make a difference to anyone if I did. I guess it was fate that brought me to Cafe Racer, but more specifically it was Kristina who made it happen. Thanks Kristina, you have already become more of a friend than I could have ever imagined.

DAY 5 we tied up a few loose ends filming wise and Ben and Anne headed back to Denver. Later that evening was the second fundraiser held at Marlis's residence. We talked, laughed, cried, and karaoked. It was great to yet again meet new faces and raise a few more bucks for the film project. Thank you for your hospitality and kindness.

DAY 6...I confidently headed to the airport. Drained from the week, mind gone to mush, but overall happy to know that everything was a success and that I was heading home. I checked out of our hotel, returned the van, and walked up to the counter. With a big smile I told them my name and flight number. They said, "Um...that plane left yesterday." I can not begin to explain the feeling in the pit of my stomach when I heard this. How could this happen? I never mess these kinds of things up, especially travel arrangements!! I somehow gathered myself enough to say, "So what happens now?"  I also managed to tell him about the week I had just had and that my mind must not be in the right place. The man behind the counter asked me to wait just a minute while he goes to speak with his boss. He comes back a few minutes later and says that he can take care of everything at no extra charge. I was promptly put on a plane back to Colorado, but not before the obligatory lecture from the man behind the counter telling me to be more careful in the future. I felt much more relaxed knowing that I was going to get home okay. The plane ride home was great, but as soon as the wheels touched down in Denver, I thought to myself how much I need a vacation.

Thanks to all who have been supporting the project to make this happen. Every person, every voice, every dollar and ever bit of support is what keeps this going and I am so grateful to have the support behind us that we do. This adventure to Seattle was a critical piece of the puzzle and will look amazing in the final film. Please continue to support this project as we have quite a ways left to go. We're still waiting for those one or two individuals to come forward and tell us that they'll take care of everything financially until this project is done, but until that happens we really need your help to continue. Please share this project, share the story, and share the love. Remember, this is for us all. Our hearts are with all those who are in healing, there is light at the end of the tunnel for all of us.

Sam

6.24.12

by Samuel J Granillo on 06/24/12


          Time goes by WAY too fast, and so much has happened. The days have been busy, exhausting and time-consuming, but quite productive.  I’m finally able to dedicate the next couple of months, without working too much in the ‘real world’, to focus on what I’ve been dreaming about the past couple of months since we’ve last spoke.

 

 

As promised, I would like to share my experience with speaking out to a classroom full of students for the first time… I went to Columbine to talk to Mr. Leyba’s Honors English classes a couple of weeks before graduation. All 3 classes were pretty much freshmen, and each class was a unique experience indeed. I had never talked to anyone about my experience in a group setting before.

 

The day was long, emotional and filled with recounts of the year 1999. I showed each class the current trailer to the film, passed around the book ‘Candide’, that was damaged in the cafeteria, and began fielding questions for the class that has just finished the book ‘Columbine’, by Dave Cullen. I had asked Mr. Leyba why he decided to teach this book and he had a really simple answer. He said, “I didn’t choose it, the students did.”  He asked his class what book they wanted to read together and on student had raised his hand and said, “How about that  ‘Columbine’ book?” Kiki was hesitant to say yes right away, but the other classes were interested in reading it too. It sounds like it was a hard decision to make, but after a long meeting with the principal and countless hours thinking about it, it seems like he just wanted to give the students what they were all interested in, and if there was ever a time and place for them to all read it in a group setting, he figured it better be in his class. I could agree with that. I must admit I was confused at first of why he would ever teach such a thing, but after speaking with everyone and listening to what they all had to say, I am much more at ease with the idea, and support it very much.

Once I give my spiel the first question I usually get when I talk about my story is, “Did you know them?” referring to Eric and Dylan. This was the same for each class I spoke to. I try to put myself in their shoes and wonder why that’s always the first question I get asked. If this also happens to you and you have any theories, I would love to hear them. It fascinates me to see how curiosity works when dealing with tragedy.

 

During the first class I had the pleasure of Frank DeAngelis sitting in while I talked. He was very supportive and made me feel really comfortable. Every now an then he joined in on the conversation along with Mr. Leyba. The students got a unique opportunity to witness survivor banter as we chatted about out experiences. I also was visited by a current teacher at Columbine, as well as someone another visitor who came in from across town to listen to me specifically.

 

Out of the 3 classes that I shared my story with that day, one of the students asked me a question that I still can’t answer. He raised his hand and asked, “What can we do?” Seems like a simple enough question, but I just can’t seem to answer it. It has been lodged in the back of my brain ever since it was asked and I just can’t express in words what I wish I could say. How would you answer that? What can students today do to help up heal for the future?

 

This Wednesday begins a journey of one of the stories that will be unraveled in my film. I’m meeting up with Kristina Anderson, and filming an introduction that will lead us to where she lives in Seattle. She is a survivor from the Virginia Tech shooting, and is a founder of the Koshka Foundation. She is out here in Denver catching up with an old friend, and I’m taking the opportunity to say hello and film a great setup that will lead us to where she lives in Seattle.  Kristina has taken the time and effort to put together a fundraiser for Columbine: Wounded Minds, and will be taking place the week of the 23rd. The actual date and time has yet to be determined.

 

Seattle has had a rough last couple of weeks, and the community is in need of finding solace.  Just recently the community was subjected to a random shooting that left 4 dead, and the community’s wounds are still fresh. I think it’s perfect that Kristina and I will be in one place to share with the community our experiences and help them with finding a solution of their own. After all, we’re all connected and could use one another from time to time as a crutch to help us move forward.

 

-Sam

LET’S GET YOU CAUGHT UP TO SPEED.

by Samuel J Granillo on 05/06/12

 
It has definitely been far too long since I wrote last. Shame and a half on me. Quite a bit has happened and I am sure this entry will be long, so I will do my best to break it up in to pieces so you can skip to the part you want to read. The topics are the fundraiser, the 13th anniversary, publicity, and plans for the next steps.
 
FUNDRAISER RESULTS.
 
Once again the Nickel City Collective threw an amazing event. Even though it was raining all day, the most amazing supporters came out to show their support. In all we raised nearly $14,000!!! At the event we raised about $7,000 and a couple days after raised a matching $7,500 from a tremendous supporter that ended up purchasing the Columbine painting for that amount. We showed a new peek at couple of the interviews ( http://youtu.be/Bkvh7STRJ7M ) Dave Heacock peddled off with the New Belgium cruiser bike, Cindy and Barbie scored the Book of Mormon tickets, the Marsh family will be getting a private outdoor cinema experience, and several lucky individuals went home with a one of a kind piece of jewelry after an intense bidding war.
 
I cannot thank enough all those who helped put this together, as well as every individual that attended to make this possible. For all those who were unable to attend the silent auction, you really missed out. I don’t say that to make you feel guilty, I say it because I was rather impressed with how it all came together. 
 
“Somewhere where the beer flows like wine and the women instinctively flock like the women of Capistrano.” –Lloyd Christmas, Dumb and Dumber
 
New Belgium, Great Divide, Odell, Breckenridge Distillery, and Syntax Spirits fueled the evening and the food spread was ridiculous to say the least. We said ‘finger foods’ but Appetites Catering overdid themselves and went all out.  Huge vegetable, cheese and fruit spreads, pulled pork tacos, hummus plates and a delicious array of desserts. D-Bar hooked it up with over 100 meringue treats, and Slice Works filled in all the gaps with freshly made pizza pies!
 
Butch and his Buckhorn Auction Service crew came way out of left field and knocked everyone’s socks off with their top notch auctioneering tactics. From their high energy entrance to their heart warming kindness and support, they really made an impression on every last soul in the room and also raised us quite a bit of funding! I am pretty sure there is a video of how it all went down, and I will post that as soon as possible, along with many pictures of everyone enjoying the night.
 
The success of this fundraiser means great things for the future!  With this, we will be able to create a full cross section of the film and use that trailer to help fund the rest of the film. Also we will be able to get materials and equipment needed, necessary lawyering help needed to move forward and continue prepping for all the next steps needed to keep everything in motion.
             
 
THE 13TH ANNIVERSARY
            This year’s anniversary of the shooting was an entirely different animal than I am used.  Although, I must say, it always is a bit different every year. Some years and moments are harder than other, but this year was just completely different.
 
Typically, my ritual starts with a trip to the cemetery where Rachel and Corey are buried. I’ll go early in the morning, bring them flowers, sit and talk to them, cry, and wait for a familiar face, talk to them for a bit, then move on to the next place.  Eventually, I will make my way over to the school and sit on the hill outside at the top of the stairs by the library and just think. Usually, I will run into the same faces I see every year. We hug, cry, talk, share stories, listen and sometimes we will just sit in silence and feel the breeze caress our faces while the sun warms the air. Eventually, I will surround myself with those I love, and those who need a friend for the day. We celebrate life into the night and try to tell those around us how wonderful and important friendship truly is in life.
 
This year was interesting and definitely broke all rituals.  Beginning at 1am, I had a Skype interview in Sweden with a young middle school student named Frida.  This was the first time I had ever done anything really important via Skype, and was honored to help her project about school violence in the world.  When I told her that she picked an interesting day to interview me, and that it was the 13th anniversary of what she was asking me about, she suddenly perked up in amazement and curiosity and we talked for about 30 minutes.  It really goes to show how worldwide and universal this subject matter really is. Even a young lady, probably born after the tragedy, is trying to make sense of it all.
 
A few hours later, at 620am, I had my very first radio interview with 850 KOA.  It was a rapid-fire interview asking me about my experience, film project, and goals. They played a snippet from my trailer and they asked me about what it was like pressing my feet against the kitchen door as I tried to keep it shut from intruders. The interview was quick and before I knew it, I was fast asleep once again.  This year, I decided to sleep in.  I spent the day with a few close individuals and loved ones including my girlfriend Sarah, who is also a survivor, and relaxed for most of the day.
 
Although the radio interview was short, word traveled fast. I quickly had an interview with Fox News (http://goo.gl/22FPo), Huffington post (http://goo.gl/kFKTO) and was featured on ABC.com (http://goo.gl/PSJQr).  I received a record number of phone calls, emails and messages, and I was really happy to get the publicity.  The word is getting out and I can feel a change in the air.
 
THE NEXT STEPS.
            Next, there is going to be meeting, after meeting, after meeting… This will help us brainstorm the best way to utilize what we need to do next in the filming process. The funds that we have raised will be able to help us move forward into the place where I want to be. With the funds raised we will be able to produce a perfect cross-section of the film that will lead to the interest of someone who would like to help complete the project. 
           
The idea in the next phase is to gather elements that make the issue national, global and universal. The national aspect is to show that the survivors of the Columbine shootings are living all over the United States and that the help is needed far beyond Littleton. Plans to go out and talk to my buddy Richard Castaldo are under way. 
 
Globally, I want to show how quickly the affects of the shootings traveled, by exploring a story of a foreign exchange student that attended Columbine for that semester only. She emailed me her story, and I just couldn’t believe what she has had to go through.  Shortly after the shooting, her exchange program was up and she had to return home. Left alone, isolated and without anyone to understand what she had just gone through, she had to rely on herself to find healing.
 
Universally, I want to explore how this is something that never goes away and that we can all relate to as human beings. Tragedy will always be knocking on our door, and loss is something that we can all relate to.  It pains me to say this but school shootings, unfortunately, will never end. They may become fewer and further between, and the prevention of them may become more solid, but the fight against them will go on forever. The good news is that the fight for hope, healing and prevention will continue to grow and expand. A Virginia Tech survivor has contacted me recently and has let me know of a foundation, Koshka Foundation (http://koshkafoundation.org) and programs that she is developing that help students by improving campus safety, empowering student activism and forging connections between survivors of various causes.
           
Planning, budgeting, writing and strategizing is what now consumes me to make sure that we can get the most bang for our buck. Working closely with The Nickel City Collective, the next steps are going to be a challenge but a crucial leap in the next direction to truly make a difference in the world.
 
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them, disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward. Maybe they have to be crazy. How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels? While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”           -1997 ad from Apple
 
NEXT BLOG: I will talk about my experience as a guest speaker for the current students of Columbine who are reading the book ‘Columbine’, by Dave Cullen, in Kiki Leyba’s Honors English classes. It was incredible.
 
Much love,
 
Sam

4.13.12 Two days before the day after tomorrow...

by Samuel J Granillo on 04/13/12

Think about it. It's today! Today is the final push before the big fundraising event tomorrow at 7pm. I have been trying to get everything together for this event for the past few months, and it still seems like I have a long way to go.  The last 4 days I have been working long hours on DIYs House Crasher, and before that I was running the Vail Film Festival for 5 days. Finding time to work on this event has been difficult, but I'm pretty sure everything will go swimmingly. I've gathered a few extra items in the last week that are pretty cool.  There will now be a Nuggets T-shirt autographed by the entire team,  a gift card from snooze, a goodie bag from Bath and Body Works, 2 season passes to this year's Boulder Outdoor Cinema, 4-pack of rockies tickets (to be raffled!), private catering dinner for 2 by Appetites Catering and a 24hr Cruiser Bike Rental & Vail Pass Trip for Two!!

Hopefully this event will go off without a hitch (wishful thinking) and I look forward to seeing you all there.  It sounds like it might be rainy tomorrow, so wear your wellies! It's amazing to have the support of all of you behind the goal of this project, and find healing for those in need. 

PS, I'm still hoping to have a new-ish trailer to show at the event. So far, as technology does, I haven't had much luck to cutting a new trailer because, the amount of technical issues I've had with programs this last week has been nothing short of un-freakin'-real... I'll keep trying today and tomorrow, but hopefully I'll have something.

Sigi's Cabaret (Located in the Tivoli)
900 Auraria Parkway, Room 140
Denver, CO 80204
7pm-10pm
Cash or Check preferred, but not necessary
$20/person or $30/couple

See you all TOMORROW!

Much love,

Sam