Tag: jsu criminal justice

Filmmaker makes a “killing” with cold case documentary

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(Image courtesy of A&E)

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.

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(A&E) Rachel Mills (right) and Joshua Zeman worked together to create “The Killing Season”

“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.”

Local Jacksonville family competes on Family Feud

Criminal Justice professor Harald Duncan and his family got the chance to experience something few ever do—competing on Family Feud.

“You can sit at home and it looks so easy, but when you’re on stage it’s not as easy,” said Duncan. His experience on the show has proven to him the difference between watching at home for leisure compared to being on stage trying to beat the buzzer before time runs out.

The auditions, trial runs and watching other families attest that it does not matter how smart you are when it becomes your turn and the pressure is on you not to get an incorrect answer. It is easy to freeze up and go blank when the pressure is on. It is not a lack of education or intelligence, but the ability to think quickly and answer accurately. “With Family Feud, it’s not what you know, but more so how you entertain,” said Duncan.

After submitting his homemade family video to Family Feud’s headquarters in California in March 2014, Duncan was excited when he received the call two months later for his family to come and do a test run for the game show.

“The first person I called after telling my wife and son was the secretary of the Criminal Justice Department,” said Duncan.

“I was beyond thrilled, especially to have the chance to honor my mother,” said Duncan when thinking back to the first edition that was filmed on Mother’s Day. The exact date is uncertain, but the urge to be on the show came about a year ago.

“I called up my brother one day and said, ‘Hey! Let’s go on Family Feud,’” said Duncan. As a result, one phone call turned into a reality after months of auditions. The Duncan family was selected from thousands who tried chosen for the 2015 season.

There are replications of the game show available for download on mobile devices, board games, online and video games, but those versions are nothing in comparison to what it is like being on the actual show.

“Being on stage, you have to have more than one answer prepared in case your answer is taken,” said Duncan.

According to Duncan, there is no way to prepare for this game show.

“There is no strategy to it! You’re wasting your time trying to practice,” said Duncan. The only thing that Duncan and his family planned was who was going to be on the show. This included Harald Duncan, his brother Jeff, sister-in-law Debra, his daughter Amy, and his sister Angie, who served as the family’s team captain.

After months of auditions, two days in Atlanta, Georgia, and two hours of filming each day, the Duncan family time has finally come for the reveal of the episode.

The Duncan family is all Jacksonville affiliated, but will be wearing German attire in respect to their mother’s heritage, as she passed away twenty years ago.

The Duncans are looking forward to the reveal of this episode.

“We had to sign documents agreeing to not tell people about exact details about the show as far as the competing family or henceforth until the episode has completely aired,” said Duncan.
To find out what family they competed against, and whether the Duncans won or not cannot be revealed either.

However, game show host Steve Harvey encouraged the Duncan family and others that, “it’s not about who wins or lose, but more so of a major accomplishment.”

There is no way to capture the excitement and intensity of the show without watching the episode.
“The most that I can say is to watch the episode on Thursday at 6 p.m.” and to stay tuned,” said Duncan.

Vallean Jackson
Staff Writer