A MURDER OF INNOCENCE
from director Shawn Justice proves that fear is the ultimate enemy
Nick R. Murphy
Now on VOD. Emotions run hot after a chilling double murder shakes the faith of a local church community in the character driven drama A MURDER OF INNOCENCE. Cinema Trends gives you an inside look into the inner workings of this somber tale of loss and redemption.
Based on the true story of an incident that happened in the life of Aimee Anderson (played by Rachel MacMillan), a pastor's wife with six adorable children, and a strong relationship with God. The story chronicles the family's move to Sequim, Washington where Aimee's husband Albert (Frank Chiesurin) is newly installed as the church pastor. As they get to know their community, the couple develops a special bond with the Reese's, an older couple they share a lot in common with. However, things take a dark turn when the Reese's are found in their home by the Anderson's. The tragedy sparks unrest throughout the town leaving its citizens in a constant state of panic. It is only through strength of faith that they can overcome their fearful anguish.
A MURDER OF INNOCENCE is the fifth feature film directed by Shawn Justice, who brings a unique cinematic flair to the material, providing a powerful blend of drama and emotion that viewers will not soon forget. The film is another in a long string of equally emotional stories of faith that include 2000's GOING THE DISTANCE, 2014’s THE RECONCILER, and 2016's OUT OF THE DARKNESS.
Russ Doughten, known for his end-times films in the 70's, had purchased the life rights of the real Aimee Anderson in order to develop a feature film based on her experiences. He never produced the film and eventually sold the rights back to her. In late 2016 the project found new life at Justice Pictures as Shawn got connected to the project through a friend that worked for filmmaker Dave Christiano. A script was finished by early 2017 and production got rolling in May 2017.
When asked what drew him to the material, Shawn Justice said, "The story appealed to me as a filmmaker because of the incredibly dark and tragic experience Aimee goes through and eventually overcomes through her walk with God." He goes on to say, "My family and I experienced a tragedy of our own in 2012, when our son Caleb, at fifteen, drowned at a youth camp. God walked with us and we truly experienced His comfort and peace, answering the why before we even had the chance to ask."
While the titular murder occurred in the early 1970s, budgetary constraints forced A MURDER OF INNOCENCE to be set in modern day. Shawn worked with his Production Designer wife, Sara Justice, and Wardrobe Designer Diana Kirkpatick, to pay homage to the time period in which the events took place to give the film a vintage feel.
Most of the shoot took place in in the Portland/Vancouver area, with second unit footage shot in Sequim, Washington. The cast was comprised mostly of locals from Portland or Vancouver, with the exception of the two leads, Rachel MacMillan and Frank Chesurin, who reside in Toronto. Chesurin had worked with Shawn Justice once before on THE RECONCILER, and had mentioned at the time that his wife was also in the acting game, and if ever there was a married couple needed for one of Justice's future projects, they would love to be considered. They were cast in the main roles of Albert and Aimee Anderson.
The most challenging aspect during the casting process was finding the right performers for the roles of the six Anderson children. However, Shawn Justice was lucky enough to be assisted by actress Katie O'Grady, who ran a school for young actors. Once they considered all their options, the cast was set, and the film was ready to roll.
The real life Aimee Anderson, now in her early eighties, worked very closely with the production, even being credited as co-producer. Aimee's input was important to Justice since this story is a large part of her legacy, and she believed in him to do the best job possible. Justice sent her dailies throughout production, and also showed her fully edited scenes during post. She was immensely supportive through all phases of production, and was astounded by how the events of the film mirrored her real life.
When it comes to addressing his principles of filmmaking, Shawn Justice says, "You have to be passionate about a film project as it consumes your life for an extended period of time. You live, work, and breathe it. One of the biggest reasons I took this project on is because of Aimee's passion for wanting to impact people. My hope was to equip them for when fears arise in their own lives."
With A MURDER OF INNOCENCE, each step of the filmmaking process carried its own set of challenges, but the cast and crew persevered through all obstacles in their path and managed to create an experience that not only entertained, but delivered a great message about family, fear, and trusting God.
A MURDER OF INNOCENCE is distributed through Vision Films and is now available on DVD and all VOD platforms. Get together with the whole family and bring home this tale of hope today!