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Laura Dern, Rashida Jones and Chelsea Handler, along with survivors and family members affected by gun violence, came together to celebrate Will McCormack and Michael Govier’s short film If Anything Happens I Love You on Wednesday night.
Held at UTA’s Beverly Hills theater, the private screening of the 12-minute animated short, about parents navigating grief after losing their daughter in a school shooting, kicked off with a mother’s emotional recount of the day she lost her 34-year-old son. Everytown for Gun Safety member and Moms Demand Action advocate Brenda Moss spoke about the 2014 murder of her son, Shawn Moss, who was shot 17 times.
“He wasn’t lost to gun violence, he was taken … taken without permission,” Moss told the UTA audience. She said she had a choice between letting the grief consume her or fighting for reform. Moss said she chose the latter, honoring her first child’s memory by advocating for gun safety.
If Anything Happens I Love You came from McCormack’s and Govier’s desire to not only raise awareness for the fatal consequences of gun violence but also to shine a spotlight on the grief that victims’ loved ones experience, Govier told The Hollywood Reporter.
“A lot of times people hide their grief, and we don’t culturally talk about it enough,” the short’s writer-director said. “We’re all human, we have all these feelings and we all have this grief.”
Both Govier and McCormack expressed gratitude for the industry support they received from a number of people, including Jayme Lemons, Handler, Jones and Dern, who are all members of the Everytown Creative Council. Dern, who attended the private screening with daughter Jaya Harper, said that the short film handled the “devastating” realities of gun violence with grace and captured the sense of grief that follows when somebody loses a loved one.
The actress told THR that she was proud to have had a hand in If Anything Happens I Love You, produced by Gary Gilbert, Gerald Chamales, Maryann Garger and Peter Morgan. Dern said that while she was already involved with another project by McCormack, she felt the sense of urgency to help spread the short film’s reach.
“Especially at this time when people are considering candidates and thinking about what’s important to them and what matters, I’m hopeful that more and more people get to see it,” Dern said. “This is a deep and primary focus for us.”
Harper added that while school shootings may not be in the daily news, there’s no use in waiting to take action. “Not having a personal experience with this can change to having one — that’s what’s so scary about this. It takes a split second to know someone or have been personally affected,” she said.
National and global events, including mass shootings and the recent coronavirus outbreak, have encouraged Dern to not only learn more about the issues affecting her day-to-day life but also motivated her to ask important questions, she said.
“How can I help the people I love? How can I protect the people I love?” Dern asked.
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