The Bad Guy

Do active shooter drills do more harm than good?

The Bad Guy The gun epidemic has become so intense in the USA, that schools and community groups are now looking away from prevention and towards preparation – tolerating mass killing as part of the fabric of American life. Measures like active shooter drills and arming teachers seem an unsavoury but necessary response to keep our loved ones safe. What impact do these militarised approaches have on children’s mental wellbeing? What kind of society will they build in the future? Told through the perspective of a European new mother, who is deciding to make a life for her young family in America, this candid and urgent documentary asks what is at stake during these frightening times.

The Bad Guy (2024) on IMDb

The Producers

Louise Van Assche – Co-director

Louise Van Assche is an independent documentary filmmaker, based in Austin, Texas. Her work has taken her across Belgium, the Netherlands, Congo, and eventually to the United States in 2019. Here, she's directed two short documentaries and has recently completed her first feature documentary. She is currently working on a documentary about growing up in the U.S., continuing her journey of exploring human stories through film.

Kwinten Gernay – Co-director

Kwinten Gernay is an independent editor and filmmaker based in Brussels, Belgium. Since graduating from film school in 2014, he has worked on documentaries and docuseries. The Bad Guy is his documentary feature debut as a director.

Making The Film

The primal instinct to protect my daughter lies at the heart of “The Bad Guy”. One typical hot Texas afternoon, I was sitting on the sofa, watching the news. My beautiful daughter Zaïra, barely two months old, was peacefully dozing off in my arms when news about an ongoing school shooting abruptly appeared. Nineteen young kids and two teachers were gunned down in an elementary school in Uvalde, just a couple towns away from us.

About three years before I had left my home in Belgium for Texas. This school shooting that was so nearby and killed so many was a wake-up call of what it means to be a parent in the United States. I became obsessed with school safety and started researching. I not only learned that guns are now the leading cause of death among American youth, but bumped into phenomena such as active shooter drills and to a more extreme level: arming teachers.

During the making of the film, it became clear how much fear parents, and even more so kids, have to endure on a daily basis. My heart broke when I heard Berkley (14), one of the subjects in the film, conclude: “You would think school is a place to learn. But right now, it feels like it could be a place to die. Schools shouldn’t be like this.”

When I became a parent in the U.S., I became part of a system in which l have to participate, whether I like it or not. It’s a system that seems to be driven more by fear than reason, and highly reactive instead of preventive. A system in which some of the responsibility to protect children is placed on the children themselves.

Louise Van Assche, Director

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