The Austin Chronicle

Kickstart Your Weekend: 'Tower'

By Richard Whittaker, April 10, 2014, 8:00am, Picture in Picture

There's no darker day in UT-Austin's history than August 1, 1966. That's when engineering student and former Marine Charles Whitman killed his wife and mother, climbed the Tower, and shot another 14 total strangers before he was finally gunned down. Fifty years later, filmmaker Keith Maitland seeks to retell those terrible events

Whitman's crime was the first recorded school mass shooting and was the most deadly in U.S. history until the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007. There have been two fictionalized versions of the events – 1968's loosely inspired Targets and 1975's TV movie The Deadly Tower – but Maitland's documentary will be the first major factual retelling of the horrible day with eyewitnesses telling their own stories.

Based on Texas Monthly senior editor Pamela Colloff's extensive aural history of the shootings, 96 Minutes, Maitland's documentary will combine contemporary footage and modern interviews with animated re-creations of the events. The director perfected the technique with his Emmy-nominated doc about the Texas School for the Blind, The Eyes of Me, which received its debut at SXSW 2009.

Maitland and his crew have already been gathering interviews, and are currently trying to raise $50,000 through crowdfunding. With that, they can start full production, with a goal of producing the first 20 minutes of footage by June 1. They have until midnight on Friday, April 11 to reach that goal, and have currently raised over $30,000.

You can find out more about the project, including all the perks on offer, at the project's Indiegogo page. Meanwhile, here's Maitland's pitch video, which includes some concept footage of what the finished product will look like.

Kickstart Your Weekend is a series intended to showcase Texas film and tech projects that are crowdfunding their way to a goal, be it distribution, a prototype, or production costs. If you have a project that we should know about, email us at

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