Brittany Robertson, Staff Writer
Hunting down leads to discover history’s most notorious serial killers sounds like something out of a horror novel, but two brave filmmakers dared to go into the belly of the beast for the sake of justice.
“The Killing Season” filmmaker Rachel Mills visited Jacksonville State University on Monday, February 13. The event took place on the 11th floor of the Houston Cole Library. Joseph Morgan, Distinguished Scholar for the Department of Criminal Justice, spoke to the large audience.
“There was a very high interest for [Mills]. She has talked with film students this morning and is now engaging with Criminal Justice majors here,” Morgan said.
“The Killing Season” debuted on A&E in November of 2016. The documentary series follows the unsolved cases of serial killers whose prime target were sex workers. Mills and her partner Joshua Zeman worked together with law enforcement and the families of the women to try and make connections.
Neither Mills nor Zeman have criminal justice backgrounds. Mills is a film expert, and Zeman was a journalism major.
“When we started making this documentary, originally, it was to follow the story and see what the process of it all was,” Mills said. “Towards the end of the series, it became obvious that our communication system between agencies is messy. With the fact that remains have traveled from one state to another, agencies try to draw lines on whose case it is and that’s the big issue right there.”
During the event, the audience was able to view an episode that Mills and Zeman shot during their series. The episode showcased a meeting between Mills and Zeman with a man who communicates with convicted serial killers who are in prison. While the shot of the man’s house was like something from “The Shining,” Mills was okay.
“Being in the basement, I was fine. It looked really strange, being surrounded by the clippings from newspapers and the mountains of letters but I felt fine knowing that at least Josh and the camera guy were there too,” Mills said.
There was a question and answer session held after Mills’ presentation where Mills talked about what she experienced and how they filmed the show itself. Mills stressed how hard it was to film the nit and grit of it all while trying to not sensationalize the story they were telling.
“We talked with the families of the victims and, I think, that was the hardest part,” Mills said. “The series doesn’t have a happy ending, it’s not wrapped up with a bow at the end, and that’s what makes it different from others.”
Morgan spoke about how having Mills speak to students was a great oppurtunity for the JSU family.
“It opens the world for them,” Morgan said. “As professors, our job is to teach the students the skills they will need, but it’s when [the students] become engaged at events like these and actually meet someone in that field that [students] get to see how they can make their mark on the world. It is by bringing such diversity in that students gain invaluable knowledge.”