Co-writing/directing a School Intruder Film with an Iconic Pulitzer Prize Winner – SDP#24

[podcast] In the summer of 2016, David Perrodin “The Safety Doc” and Pulitzer-Prize winning author/producer David Obst toppled the established rhetoric narrative of school intruder cinema by writing a school intruder film based upon how most school intruder situations empirically complete – without harm to self or others. 

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Obst, a legendary American literary legend that was the agent for Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, also produced the blockbuster hit movies Revenge of the Nerds, Fast Times at Ridgemont High (Sean Penn’s breakout role), and All the President’s Men.  Obst received the Pulitzer Prize for breaking the My Lai Massacre story (Vietnam) with investigative news reporter Seymour Hersh.


The grapevine of connections put Dr. Perrodin’s name before David Obst at a time when Obst was seeking a school safety content expert for a school intruder film.  Perrodin’s role quickly expanded from reviewing the accuracy of a handful of scenes to co-authoring, and eventually co-directing, scenes with David Obst.


Dr. Perrodin had to quickly learn the lingo, format and nuances of the movie industry as he and Obst aimed to have a completed 120-page script in 8 weeks.  In this episode, Dr. Perrodin shares feeling overwhelmed and the unrelenting need to anchor his recommendations to empirical findings – something that wasn’t required by David Obst who repeatedly stated, “Dr. Perrodin, you are the expert – you don’t need to tell me why, you need to tell me what would happen during a scene.”  Oh yeah, what’s a slug line?  Anyway, some habits are hard to break for a social scientist who is also a safety expert.  Dr. Perrodin also emphasized the benefit of voice-overs, or actors’ thoughts being shared out loud, as a way to increase the accessibility of the film to persons with visual disabilities.


The film maximized the sensemaking framework, or placing emphasis on identifying very subtle changes in one’s environment and how to assess context and situation before determining options.  Bucking the trend of school intruder films, nobody was shot or killed and profanity was not incorporated into the script.


One page of script equals approximately 1-minute of screen time.


David will respond to discussion thread comments or questions & also to emails.  The Safety Doc Podcast is hosted & produced by David Perrodin, PhD.


Opinions are those of the host and guests and do not reflect positions of The 405 Media or supporters of “The Safety Doc Podcast”.  The show is curse free and adheres to nondiscrimination principles while seeking to bring forward productive discourse and debate on topics relevant to personal or institutional safety.