GUNWALKERS is rooted in a search for truth profoundly influenced by the spirit of investigative and independent journalism. When I heard about Fast and Furious, a clandestine operation involving the U.S. Government’s release of more than 2,500 guns to known criminals, I decided to delve deeper and try to make sense of these events and decisions.
During the course of my research, I listened to many congressional hearings wherein lawmen and high‐ranking government officials, one by one, shied from accepting responsibility for their actions. Furthermore, with the exception of the tragic loss of border patrol agent Brian Terry, there exists virtually no record detailing the fatalities of the practice of walking guns. The fact pattern that emerged convinced me the media had turned a blind eye to one of the most significant news stories of our time.
From inception, my heart went out to the residents along the southern border who bore the weight of the blow; ordinary men and women who placed full faith in their government to protect them and were exposed to an unnecessary wave of violence. This is how GUNWALKERS was born. Creatively, my instincts were to shoot the film with the richness of detail of a documentary making it clear to audiences we were zeroing in on significant subject matter, but at the same time, I did not want to make the film too mechanical like a history lesson.
To arrive at the perfect medium, I blueprinted front and center into the script an Arizona family’s vicissitudes of fortune. A family led by a father whose love is so fierce, he ultimately becomes blinded by it in the wake of the carnage unleashed by walking guns. I was able to convey the tapestry of textures and varying wavelengths of kinetic energy I was aiming for through extensive use of handheld shooting and craning shots. In a similar vein, I made strategic use of perfectly still footage to compel the viewer to examine the events leading to the destruction of a once harmonious world.
The America that existed in 2009 was very dystopian, only a year removed from the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression, laying the groundwork for the perfect modern film noir journey. Verisimilitude was important to me; I made it clear beforehand to every actor who appeared with a weapon they would have to undergo intense military training.
The movie is fast paced, but I feel there is still room to breathe and absorb the nuances of the world, like the rustling of plants in the stunning Sonoran desert; to observe Dillan just being a kid. It is in these moments, I feel, we gain the greatest insight into what it means to be sentient creatures of humanity. Ultimately, my hope is that audiences will reflect on this story as a triumph of the good fight, that in light of the revelations they will hold their loved ones a little closer, and that the spirit in which this film was crafted will endure.