By Will Espero

Surviving Pulse – Life After a Mass Shooting is a feature documentary from the United States directed by Alexa Sheehan. The Pulse nightclub was sponsoring Latino Night when a lone gunman entered the LGBTQ club and began shooting. By night’s end, 49 innocent victims were killed and the shooter was eventually shot dead by police. The stories, thoughts, and memories of the survivors are shared as the horrific events of that fateful evening are forever etched in their minds. 

The film tells of a celebratory evening at an Orlando nightclub where people were free to be themselves, express their identities, and feel completely included and welcomed. The surprise attack and deaths to follow are detailed and explained as the disease of gun violence continues its toll in America.

The aftermath including PTSD, guilt, anxiety, fear, community dialogue, advocacy, and forgiveness shows the journeys many survivors are involved in or consumed with. The need for political representation and a champion for the LGBTQ constituency and community is highlighted indicative of the need to create a united front and voice.

Director Alexa Sheehan

Director Alexa Sheehan

Alexa Sheehan is a transplant to Florida after almost 20 years in Los Angeles working in the industry and its myriad media content. A member of the Director’s Guild of America, SAG-AFTRA, and a board member of both Women in Film and Television – Florida and Film Florida, she hopes to parlay her experience in Hollywood filmmaking to create and to bring big projects to Florida and shake up the industry there.

She and her husband, an Union Assistant Property Master, created HarborDashery Productions, a local production company in New Smyrna Beach, filming commercial and other media projects for local businesses and schools. She has been a judge in the Orlando 48 Hour Film Festival and Hub on Canal Student Film Festival, Alexa has sat on numerous panels to help educate the new regime of filmmakers, and to share stories of her experience.

This documentary began filming a year after the Pulse tragedy in 2016 which at the time was the largest LGBTQ-targeted mass shooting in United States history. As we interviewed the survivors over the months and years following, we found that the survivors of mass shootings have a very trauma-specific journey that needed to be shared. Sadly, the issue has become more prevalent in today’s society and its ripple effect on those that are collateral damage is real. These amazing people have endured, fought, and persevered telling their stories as exclusives. Hear their journeys of strength and hear the human side of the frenzy that often occurs after such an horrendous event. How it is portrayed in the media versus what happens in the lives of those involved, and what it is like to be left behind. We hope we have helped them be heard, and we are honored for them to allow us into their lives as an unconventional vehicle towards healing. They never asked to be survivors.

Alexa Sheehan

Surviving Pulse – Life After a Mass Shooting is an Official Selection at the 2022 edition of the Global Nonviolent Film Festival, and it can be watched from September 29 to October 10 on globalnonviolentfilmfestival.comD!