This Short Film Shows What ’20 Minutes of Action’ Really Looks Like
The recent sentencing of Brock Turner made waves across the country as people protested Turner’s brief six-month jail sentence in light of his sexual assault crimes.
As a result, the story has become a lightning rod for discussions of rape culture and privilege in the criminal justice system. Many have been signing petitions to have the judge who oversaw the case removed.
There were plenty of things wrong with this case, but perhaps one of the most infuriating things was when Turner’s father read a letter aloud that mentions the steep price his son must pay for “20 minutes of action out of his 20 years of life.”
The truth of it is, assault is not an accident. These 20 minutes were not an accident.
To this, award-winning filmmaker Gavin Michael Booth had something to say. So he decided to do what he knows best: make a film about it. The result is a 20-minute short that captures a house party so familiar, it’ll remind you of every night out you’ve ever had — with a really dark twist. It’s a graphic and spot-on depiction of how rape culture works.
Read our interview with Gavin and watch the film (be forewarned: it’s NSFW and very graphic) below.
Galore: What made you decide to create this film?
It was reading Dan Turner’s letter regarding his son, convicted rapist Brock Turner’s sentencing and the meaning behind that phrase “it was only 20 minutes of action.” We should simply chalk this 20 minutes of rape up to not meaning anything in the grand scheme of a lifetime? I was enraged, as anyone should be reading that. Are we to forgive drunk drivers, people who pull the trigger and nameless other crimes if they take play in party culture? I’m not one to bandwagon or soapbox lecture on social media, but I wore my finger out liking comments and posts people were raising against the Turner family that day.
How did the idea come about?
I’ve always felt that seeing is believing. I told my wife I should make a short film that shows just how terrible it would be to watch someone be raped while unconscious. A film, in real-time – no edits, a single take twenty minute film. I would attempt to make something I hope people don’t even watch through to the end when they realize no rescue is coming. There is no hero; no rescue to be had. Watch that 20 minutes play out and then tell me why anyone is allowed to go in front of the media and make excuses for some rotten bastard’s actions. Youth, alcohol, party culture have zero to do with if you decide to sexually assault someone or continue on with your evening like a normal person not committing a crime. That was it, it went from “here’s what I would do” to the compulsion to take action and “here’s what I’m going to do.” After all it’s just 20 minutes, seems like justice served I can artistically speak out in my own way.
Is it true this film was made on a whim with a very quick turnaround?
I thought up the idea for the film last Wednesday night (June 8). Like any topic that has the media and people’s attention, unfortunately that attention fades as the next sensationalized story sweeps in. I wanted to make sure if we were going to do it, it was going to be immediately. An immediate reaction. I am blessed to be surrounded with friends who are gifted actors and filmmakers so after a series of phone calls I set this past Monday (June 13) to shoot the project and then set up the post-production team to work around the clock until Thursday morning to complete the project.
There was an overwhelming support for the idea from everyone I asked. This was paid for out of my own pocket but I barely had to pay anything or anyone as the interest in taking part was far greater than anyone asking about getting their day rate to be on set. That goes for the musicians I reached out to for soundtrack songs. Immediate ‘yeses’ all around.
Not naming names, but it was particularly shocking for me to learn how many people working on this project confided in me that they have had a personal experience with sexual assault and their passion to use their talents in any way, shape or form to address the issue was given to me full force.
What kind of message are you hoping to spread with this film?
I hope the film represents a realistic portrayal of a very common form of date rape — the too drunk or possibly drugged at an otherwise innocent party. I hope that seeing really is believing. If people watch the film and are moved to tears or disgusted with what they’ve just watch take place, then I only hope that feeling stays with them and they feel compelled to stand up for their fellow man (or woman) if they are ever in a similar situation to do so. That’s all any filmmaker can hope for – that the ideas expressed on screen will resonate a human connection and reaction and that will carry forward with the viewer in their real life.
What are you hoping this film will change?
I hope it makes potential assailants think twice about what they are doing to another person’s entire life, not just their one evening or one moment in time. I hope it helps more people come forward and stand against their assailants. I hope anyone watching that works in the legal system or at an educational institute realizes it is a horrific act and it will cause them to think twice before dismissing or lessening their efforts to convict those accused of rape crimes. Rape crimes are basically not prosecuted. There is roughly a 3% chance a rapist will even have charges pressed against them. If the film is shared through social media and it makes even one person think twice and put forth a much more noble effort from either side of this scenario then the film has done its job.