Film about Columbine shootings stars former SSHS student |

Film about Columbine shootings stars former SSHS student

Tragedy through survivors' eyes

Margaret Hair

Actors Ellen Woglom, left, and Kelly Blatz perform in a scene from the upcoming movie "April Showers." Woglom was a freshman at Steamboat Springs High School on April 20, 1999, when two students walked into Columbine High School and killed 13 people before taking their own lives. The film addresses the effects of the shootings on its teenaged survivors. The film goes into limited release April 24.

— On April 19, 1999, Andrew Robinson was simply a student at Columbine High School. On April 20, and in the weeks that followed, he and his classmates became an exhibit.

“We were treated at arms length by people because they didn’t want to upset us : but they wanted to come and see us,” Robinson said, describing the mass of television cameras, newspaper reporters and media outlets that descended on the Littleton high school after two students killed 12 classmates and one teacher in one of the bloodiest school shootings in United States history.

That day has been chronicled in countless news clips, TV shows and films, including Gus Van Sant’s “Elephant.” Most show the build-up, taking the killers’ point of view in an attempt to understand what happened. For Robinson, those depictions miss a big piece of the Columbine story.

“Having gone through Columbine and having been a part of that experience in varying degrees and surviving it, I know that there had been a number of films that were geared toward similar-type subject matter, but none of them ever really looked at what it does and what it means to survive through something like that as a teenager, through something that public,” Robinson said.

“April Showers,” a movie written and directed by Robinson that goes into limited release April 24, follows six Columbine survivors in the weeks after the shooting.

Taking the lead

Actress Ellen Woglom remembers sitting in her freshman Spanish class at Steamboat Springs High School on April 20, 1999. As the Columbine trauma unfolded on a television screen, Woglom watched with her classmates, feeling the effects of a shooting that was happening three hours away.

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“I can remember where I was when it happened, being three hours away. : I can remember being in school with the TVs on and the cause and effect that it triggered and how we had to have metal detectors and police at school,” Woglom said.

That experience brought Woglom to “April Showers” – she plays April Lauren, the female lead.

Woglom’s family moved to Steamboat Springs when she was in fourth grade. She attended Steamboat Springs Middle School, and spent her first year of high school here before moving to a New England boarding school, where

she got interested in acting.

Since moving to Los Angeles, Woglom has appeared on TV shows including “Law and Order: SVU,” “The O.C.,” “Cold Case” and “CSI.” She got the script for “April Showers” amid a flood of pilot-season pieces, and this one stood out.

“You read so many scripts this time of year, and some are good and some are bad, and rarely do you really get invested in one and rarely do you feel moved by it,” Woglom said. “I was sobbing by the end of it.”

That emotional commitment spread to the rest of the cast – which includes Tom Arnold and Illeana Douglas – and to the crew, Woglom said.

“You got invested in these students’ lives, and to see the traumatic events and the domino effect that it had on their lives and what was lost : that was just really, really sad,” she said. If she hadn’t spent the first part of her adolescent years in Colorado, Woglom said she might not have been attracted to some of her most emotional projects: a part in a stage production of “The Laramie Project” and her role in “April Showers.”

“It’s funny just looking back on the ties of how much Colorado played an influence in my acting career. : If I hadn’t been from Steamboat, it wouldn’t have been a personal project to me,” she said.

Film addresses grieving

For years after he left Colorado, Robinson didn’t tell anyone he had been at Columbine the day of the shootings. He moved to Los Angeles and went through a healing process of his own. Years later, he started writing a movie about a hospital doctor who had lost his wife and who grappled with death every day at work.

“I noticed some of the characters I was writing in this film were dealing with issues and themes that seemed to come from my experience at Columbine. : I realized I was trying to tell a different story masked as something else,” Robinson said.

So he decided to tell his story.

“I sat down one day with a blank screen and I began to write, and 72 hours later I had ‘April Showers,'” Robinson said. He shelved the film for months before sending it to some friends in Hollywood for their criticism. Many of those friends responded with offers and encouragement to produce the script.

Robinson placed a $25 ad on Craigslist looking for a producer; he didn’t include any details about the movie, other than his dedication to it.

He got 400 replies. From there, the project has been a whirlwind – Robinson didn’t realize until recently that it was being released near the 10th anniversary of the school shooting. It opens to select theaters across the country April 24. The film does not have any scheduled screenings in Steamboat Springs.

“This film doesn’t set out to say, ‘Here’s why these things at Columbine happened.’ It’s a film that brings meaning to the images that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing. : This film was really showing that there’s more than just 14 victims or 15 victims or 30 victims. It’s more than the people who lose their lives – it’s about everybody,” Robinson said.

For more

“April Showers” follows six survivors of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in their weeks of grieving after the event. The film is written and directed by Columbine alumnus Andrew Robinson, who was a senior at the school at the time of the shooting. The cast includes Tom Arnold (“True Lies”), Illeana Douglas (“Ghost World”), Kelly Blatz (“Prom Night”) and former Steamboat Springs High School student Ellen Woglom (“Law and Order: SVU”). The film does not have any scheduled screenings in Steamboat Springs.

To watch a trailer for the movie, go to