Apparently, a lot of them are "13 reasons why" fans. I was asked about a particularly brutal scene involving a sexual assault at the end of season 2. Hadn't seen it yet, so I said I'd get back to them. A few minutes later, I mentioned a wartime experience (Me being a veteran hadn't come up before). Which of course brought the inevitable questions in the classy fashion only teenagers raised on Call of Duty can muster.
Now, adults, I don't give a fuck. They want to talk about the darker and uglier aspects of combat or my personal experiences thereof? full speed ahead. Kids? Kinda derailed my train of thought. I waved it off with a raised eyebrow and a look of, "really?" before moving on to the lesson at hand.
In the intervening two weeks, I gave myself the homework of re-watching the first and seeing the second season. And in a great many ways, it confirmed my first feelings: it's a well done depiction of a brutal subject. It's possibly the best depiction of high school I've ever seen committed to film, with a brilliant sense of nuance in several members of an ensemble cast. Spawned a lot of thought.
So today I sat down, and I admitted I'd been thrown for a loop, and why. And I promised to not do it again. They may not be adults yet, but they're learning how to be professionals. This is the kind of material they may be called upon to work with in the years to come. And the last thing they need is another adult gaffing them off or lying to them because the subject matter is intense.
I pointed out that if I walked onto a set tomorrow and they were there, they were my coworker, and should be treated with the respect that entails. That yeah, serious subjects should be dealt with seriously and respectfully, but that doesn't mean pretending that they don't exist.
We talked about that scene phrase by phrase (didn't have it handy to go over shot by shot), and discussed how it was done in a safe way. I hammered home a lesson I repeat almost every time: that there's never a reason to really get hurt, and there's never a reason to ever really hurt someone else. There is always a way to fool the camera and the audience. You just have to find it.
I answered the questions about my previous career, honest and straightforward. And I made it clear that if we ever had to discuss similar material in the future, it was all on the table, as long as we were serious and professional about it.
In this industry, there's going to be plenty of adults lying to them in the years to come. I don't need to be one of 'em.
And then, because I'd set up the mats, we went to work on falls. And we did good work.