School shooters are compelling personalities; two of my screenplays feature them as main characters.  Just look at the storm of guessing the motivations and causes behind the Columbine shooting tragedy; people love to talk about and hear about school shooters. In my most recent script, “Z., or, Zombie High School Massacre”, in which a repentant …
" /> Jason Holborn | Cybercarnet/Weblog - Susan Klebold on Dylan Klebold

Susan Klebold on Dylan Klebold

School shooters are compelling personalities; two of my screenplays feature them as main characters.  Just look at the storm of guessing the motivations and causes behind the Columbine shooting tragedy; people love to talk about and hear about school shooters.

In my most recent script, “Z., or, Zombie High School Massacre”, in which a repentant school shooter saves his high school classmates through superior firepower, I took the creative liberty of defining school shooters as “intensely creative energies who alter reality around them wielding a power you or I cannot fathom”.  Recently I read this Oprah Magazine essay by Susan Klebold, from November 2009, in which she discusses her son Dylan, his past as an especially gifted child, and the day of the Columbine tragedy itself.  She says:

“Dylan changed everything I believed about my self, about God, about family, and about love.”

This demonstrates exactly how school shooters “alter reality around them”.

I also took the liberty of further defining school shooters as remarkable, standout talents, with a commitment level far higher than their peers, and I made the school shooter in “Z.” into a student of greater than average intelligence, bored and deadened in the school system, and Mrs. Klebold also writes:

“From the time he was a toddler, he had a remarkable attention span and sense of order. He spent hours focused on puzzles and interlocking toys. He loved origami and Legos. By third grade, when he entered a gifted program at school, he had become his father’s most devoted chess partner.”

And:

“As he grew, he became extremely shy and uncomfortable when he was the center of attention, and would hide… By junior high, it was evident that he no longer liked school; worse, his passion for learning was gone.”

I avoided overt references to Columbine in “Z.”; I even cut out a stylish hat complimenting the school shooter’s attire specifically to avoid any allusions; I didn’t read anything on Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold before writing the first 5 drafts.  Yet, reading Mrs. Klebold’s memories of her son, it almost felt at some points like reading excerpts from a character bio of the main character in “Z.”

It’s debatable how effective the effort was, however I wrote “Z.” with the specific intention to reach and inspire potential school shooters to channel their energies differently and make different choices.  It can sound crassly exploitative to hear a description of the story of a school shooter who saves his school on the day of the zombie apocalypse, yet I still believe such a film does have the power to stop tragedies and to open a desperately needed dialogue, and with no crass intention at all, I will probably now use Mrs. Klebold’s experiences and recollections both of her son and her suffering to convince people that an NC-17 dark comedy about a school shooting has worth and merit.

Susan Klebold has also opened up recently about her painful, private prayer for her child to kill himself; it’s a saddening account to read.  She is quite a brave person; I was surprised and impressed to read that her husband and she still live in the same home where they raised Dylan Klebold.