Around 320 people danced the night away on June 12, 2016 at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, unaware that they were just moments away from being part of one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history. On that night, 49 people were murdered, and 58 others were wounded by the senseless acts of a selfish terrorist. The event that evening silenced 49 voices, but their stories had to be told.
Enter Director Charlie Minn.
As a veteran director of 26 independent documentaries, Minn knew that those who were silenced that night needed a voice. “I was really nervous making this film, sometimes thinking that it was too soon for me to tackle this subject.” However, once the ball started rolling and Minn and his associates were making contacts with the survivors and family members of the victims the film fell right in place. “We contacted a lot of people through Facebook,” said Minn in a phone interview. “It is amazing how those connections and conversations came to us. We were greeted with open arms by survivors and family members of the victims. Their comments were all the same: they wanted this story to be told.”
49 Pulses, a gripping and pointed documentary about what transpired that night, was the result of Minn reaching out to those affected by the event. Told through the words of the survivors and the wishes of the victims’ family members and loved ones, 49 Pulses honors those that were part of the tragedy, give those silenced a voice, and asks every viewer the question, “What can we do to prevent such senseless violence in the future?”
Minn has created a very watchable documentary that asks many questions, tells many stories, and gives the viewer an insight into the horrific tragedy. “I was very aware that this story was a very sensitive topic. From the start my goal was to create a balanced point of view that covered everyone who was part of the event,” said Minn. The film’s first section tells the tale of the events of June 12, 2016 through firsthand stories of those that survived. The recreated scenes used in the documentary, interspersed with police body camera footage and interviews with the survivors, are bold and sometimes hard to watch, but overall give the viewer a connection with the bigger story.
In the second half of the film, Minn dives into how the police handled the event and the subsequent 3 hours and 15 minutes after being notified by those in the club. “A documentary changes when people say certain things. The people being interviewed tell the story and a lot of them questioned what happened in the 192 minutes after the first shooting occurred,” he explained. “My editor helped a lot with plotting and pacing of the film. You have to be disciplined and organized with the editing. The way the viewer gets a feel for what happened is based on how you structure the film.”
Ending the documentary is a final section which gives those who were silenced a voice. Their stories, told through their family members and loved ones, is the heart of the film. “It was very important to never mention the shooter’s name and instead focuses on the victims, their stories, and their energy,” he said. “I’ve carved a niche in my documentary filmmaking, as I’ve focused on giving a voice to the victims of these horrible incidents. I want people to know the names of the victims, not the killer, and I think that 49 Pulses does exactly that.”
Minn has devoted his career to telling the stories of others through their own words. Over 26 documentaries, some of which have been sold to studios such as Lions Gate and Investigation Discovery, Minn has always focused on the innocent people whose stories need to be told. As an independent filmmaker, Minn feels that this approach, while at times difficult, is the best way to get these stories out to the public. “Being indie is like being all by yourself on an island,” he noted. “You make the film, you have to find the money, and you have to market it all yourself. The studio route may give you money, but it can be difficult. You have to go through layers of barbed wire to find someone who wants to help you tell your story.” Instead of going through the rigmarole with big studios, Minn finds that independent filmmaking allows him to capture his “energy and passion” for telling stories in a timely manner. “I ask myself, do I wait around for that person and that studio to come to me or do I want to capture this energy and make the film I want to make?”
Through his impressive resume of documentaries, it is clear that Minn prefers the indie route. “People ask me about how they can spread the word about my films and I tell them to be passionate about the films in the topics, do your best every day to spread what is out there and get it out to people. My films encourage discussion and I hope that librarians can use these films to promote discussion in their towns.”
2018 looks to be a big year for 49 Pulses, one that will continue to give the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting a voice in a country that, unfortunately, is seeing an increasing amount of mass shootings that have changed how we look at everyday life. On Friday January 26, 2018, the film will debut at Premiere Cinemas at Fashion Square Mall in Orlando, FL. This viewing will give the residents of Orlando a chance to gather, collectively grieve, and process what went down on that terrible night. Past that event, Minn has schedule viewing in Texas in February and hopes to have a limited theatrical release in March 2018 as well as online via partnership with Dreamscape Media. Libraries looking to add this tremendous and important documentary to their collection can find more information at https://www.dreamscapeab.com/video/4311754/detail
When wondering if you should spend your evening watching the documentary 49 Pulses by Charlie Minn, I urge you to look past the fact that watching a documentary about horrific and senseless mass murder may not be the way you want to spend your evening. Instead, look at viewing the excellent and thought provoking 49 Pulses as a way to honor the lives of the 49 people were murdered. By giving these individuals a voice, Minn’s documentary film excels by keeping the conversation around mass shootings going. Sometimes the hardest conversations that we must have are the ones that bring about the most change. 49 Pulses is a film that starts these conversations and at the same time honors all those affected by the Pulse Nightclub shooting. Daring documentaries like this one by Minn go a long way in helping people understand the full picture of what happened. Highly recommended.