Shots fired, survivors scramble to escape, and the gunman is left grasping for…fame? The voyeuristic nature of crime and punishment in the current media landscape gives murderers a macabre platform of infamy. WICHITA, a new psycho-thriller by directors, Justyn Ah Chong and Matthew Ward, explores the nature of the modern killer.
In the film, WICHITA, a lonely man’s voyeuristic obsession with the private lives of his co-workers spirals into a desperate attempt for attention and a violent spectacle of horror. The story told in WICHITA could easily be “ripped from the headlines” on almost any given day in America. In 2017 alone over 150 mass shootings have already taken place.
Ward, who penned WICHITA, confided that, “growing up in post-Columbine high schools, and seeing the frequency of mass murders in the media, and just being men under 25– most mass murderers are males under 25, affected our production team in different ways. Breathing life into ‘Jeb’, our amalgam of the modern mass killer, let us share our philosophies and more importantly, our feelings, about this phenomenon plaguing our demographic.”
Audiences and content creators have a very distinct, symbiotic, supply and demand relationship. One may argue that the audience drives the content, while another may argue the creators have more control. The lines blur in WICHITA as Jeb (Trevor Peterson) dives deeper into his obsession as a content creator. Power can be derived from the weight of the gaze of others. Ward wanted to tap into, “the power of the gaze through the bloody lens of modern mass murder.”
Ward shared, “I want the audience to leave WICHITA with a feeling, or a deeper understanding of what this frightening phenomenon is really about, more than any one message. I want them to gain empathy. While we hope WICHITA is fun, we also hope it leads to discussions about violence in America, mental health, gun control, and the supply and demand nature of corporate media.”
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