The Netflix documentary about real crime American Murder: The Family Next Door uses archive footage to tell the story of Shanann Watts, who was murdered by her husband along with her two children and unborn baby Chris Watts. In a recent interview, filmmaker Jenny Popplewell spoke to Netflix producer Alysia Judge about why she felt compelled to tell Shanann’s story.
“When I first came across this footage, I didn’t see it as a documentary filmmaker, I was just intrigued,” she said. “I’m a parent … I was just very moved, I felt completely connected to her.”
When Popplewell began investigating Shanann’s case more closely, she found there was an abundance of material online, including home videos, social media posts, bodycam footage, and court footage. She used this as the basis for archive-only film.
“I had never seen so much media outlets for a story that included the victim,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking to go through this footage, but at the same time you feel like it’s your responsibility to make sure that her voice is heard loud and clear throughout the film because I think she is in the back seat herself narration was pushed. “
Popplewell added that she purposely avoided telling the story through Chris Watts’ lens and chose to keep Shanann in focus throughout the film, citing the trend in coverage of male violent criminals against To put women first. “I’m not talking about what school he went to or what he achieved in his life like you would in a traditional doctor. Instead, I’m interested in telling your story. So it is their Heartache, their Successes, “she said.” We tried to see Chris through Shanann’s eyes. “
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“I think it opens up important discussions,” she says of the film. “Everyone seems to be watching her right now, and she’s the voice for victims who aren’t always heard. She’s not the first woman to be blamed for her own death, and I think that should come out of the movie; us should open a debate about it. “
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