This week on 9/11 Free Fall, filmmaker Dylan Avery and AE911Truth Chief Operating Officer Kelly David tell host Andy Steele about their soon-to-be-released documentary, The Unspeakable, which follows four families as they struggle to uncover the truth of how their loved ones died in the Twin Towers 20 years ago this week.
Be sure not to miss the free online preview of the film on the homepage of AE911Truth.org at 8:00 PM Eastern on September 10, 2021. After the screening, Rosie O’Donnell will host a Q&A with three of the film’s protagonists: 9/11 family members Bob McIlvaine and Drew DePalma and architect Bill Brinnier. They will be joined by 9/11 family member Michele Little.
Welcome to 9/11 Free Fall. I'm the host, Andy Steele. Here we are coming upon another 9/11 anniversary. This is going to be the 20th one after the events that took place and really changed a lot of lives here in the 21st century, including mine and, of course, including our guests' today. We're joined by Dylan Avery and Kelly David. Dylan Avery is a producer and director known for Olson, Asteroid, Black and Blue, SEVEN, and, of course, Loose Change, which initially woke a lot of people up to the problems surrounding the 9/11 official story.
Now he's going to have a new film coming out called The Unspeakable, which we'll be talking about today. And he's joined by Kelly David, who is the chief operating officer at AE911Truth. She is also the executive producer on the upcoming film The Unspeakable. She received a Bachelor of Science degree from New York Institute of Technology back in 2002, and she immediately launched her career in management from that. Over the next 11 years, she helped organize the day-to-day operations of several businesses in New York, where she grew up, and then moved to the San Francisco Bay area, and she's done a heck of a lot for AE911Truth and by extension the 9/11 Truth Movement. It's an honor to have both these individuals on the show today. Guys, welcome to 9/11 Free Fall.
Thank you, Andy.
The Unspeakable. I've seen portions of this film. This is going to be one of the best 9/11 Truth films, I really believe this, in many years. It's very different than what we're used to, in a good way. But Dylan, I'm going to let you lay it out for our audience. Talk about The Unspeakable. Essentially what is this film about?
I would say that this film focuses pretty heavily on four people that were lost on 9/11 and the kind of subsequent ripples that it had amongst their friends and family. It's not quite accurate to say that we focused on a bunch of 9/11 family members because we focus on Bill Brinnier, who was friends with Frank DeMartini.
We have a multifaceted approach to the losses that were incurred on 9/11 and how they affected people in different ways and how different people would come to terms with it and turned their grief into activism or lack thereof. It was an opportunity to do something for the 20th anniversary that was not only a commentary on 9/11 itself but obviously where we're at as a country, actions that were taken in the name of these 9/11 family members and survivors, and just a chance to say something and a chance to revisit some people like Bob McIlvaine, who I've always known and have obviously had great respect for. It was nice to be able to sit down and interview him and really spend an extended amount of time with him. So, yeah. Kelly, how about you? What do you got?
That's a good way of explaining it. Yeah, it's basically about four people who've passed away on 9/11 and their family members and in some cases, friends or extended family. I feel like it's a real different way of going about a 9/11 Truth documentary. We're telling more of an overall story about these people's journey. And like I said, it's different, so I think it will go pretty far. It's going to be pretty difficult for your average person not to watch this and feel for these people. So, yeah, it's going to be different, and I'm really excited about it.
I was just in an interview earlier today, and somebody had asked me about the biggest obstacles to getting the information out, and the point I made is a point I've made on this show before. In my view, we've already made the case; these buildings were brought down in controlled demolition. The science proves it. At the very least, it justifies a new investigation. At the very least. Our biggest obstacle now, of course, is the psychology, the cognitive dissonance, the emotional impact of this event left on the public consciousness. Of course, that impact and that cognitive dissonance are heightened by the corporate media and the government. Really, it's a psychological issue that we're dealing with now. That's my view on this. That's why I think it's so important to focus again on the people that we do this for, for the families and, of course, for the victims, who can't speak for themselves anymore.
That's what I liked so much about this film. Actually, a person, a family member, that I showed what I've seen of this to actually started crying during it. And I think it's going to have that kind of impact on the people who watched this. Dylan, I know that you have developed a lot as a filmmaker since you did Loose Change so many years ago, and you add something new to every film that you do in terms of just the style and the overall approach that you take. How will this film be different than other 9/11 films you've done and basically other 9/11 films you've seen over the years?
I think the most apparent difference, and I think that people will definitely get a glimpse of that at the very least in the trailer that I believe will probably already have been released by the time this show is released... You'll see in the trailer that there's no footage of 9/11, and, so far, I've made it a significant chunk of the way through editing the movie without using any archival footage of 9/11, which I think is really interesting. It really forces the edits to just focus on the people and the stories and not just rely on using those same shots over and over and over again. I don't know, it might pop up once or twice near the ending of the movie. I still haven't quite committed to that, but I don't know.
It's different. It's certainly nothing like what people would expect from this organization or I think even from me. There's people that have been following my work over the last couple of years, and I pitched it to someone that I was taking the Black and Blue approach to 9/11 with this project. Where with Black and Blue, whenever someone is killed by the police or beaten up by the police, it's still down to a headline and, "This person was shot at this location and etcetera, etcetera." Then you, more often than not, never hear anything about it again. For me, I wanted to go beyond the headlines, so to speak.
And so, for this in kind of the same vein, going into it with Bob McIlvaine, and I told him, "Yes. Unfortunately you are going to have to tell that same story that you've had to tell for the last 20 years, but, you're also going to be able to talk about other things. And those things will actually make it into the movie." He gets to talk about Bobby. He gets to talk about his history with Peaceful Tomorrows. There's footage of him and his wife, Helen.
I really tried as much as possible to just highlight these people as people and just try to avoid making just another talking head documentary, because I think that's the one thing that we're all both generally tired of and, especially, with the stuff that comes out of this movement more often than not. That's really just the stuff we produce, which is fine. I've obviously done it many times myself, but I was really excited to go into this and to try to find ways to avoid doing that as much as possible and to really try to find a way to find a central story and just keep driving it forward and rely more on scenes than interviews, if any of that makes any sense.
No, I agree with you. You talk about the talking head approach, and certainly it's been effective in getting information out. And we've been very informationally focused in the 9/11 Truth Movement for a number of years, and that's had its impact. However, what I love in this is, as you mentioned, the personal touch, actually diving deep with these people's stories, things that you never really think about. You see Bob McIlvaine at forums and interviews talking about his son's death, but to actually go into his house, to actually go into Bobby's bedroom, as you do at one point in here, and just really put together the life that was lived before it was so tragically cut short 20 years ago. That is something that I always emphasize is this "nearly 3,000 people died" number.
For some people it sounds just like a number, and we focus on it. We say it's terrible. We take in the magnitude of it. But that was nearly 3,000 entire experiences. You actually get to live it through Bob's eyes and through the eyes of Drew DePalma and Matt Campbell and all of these folks that appear in this film. That's why I like this. It really reminds us again why we do what we do here and what we're seeking justice for.
Now Kelly, I know you were very deeply involved in this project, really pulled a lot together to make this happen for the 20th anniversary. I want to hear it from your experience of this film. What are some of the things that really stuck out to you?
What was it like for me? It was interesting. It's sort of like a reminder of why we do what we do, especially for me because I'm always so wrapped up in all these different things, trying to make sure that the organization is running well, that sometimes we lose sight of why are we really doing this? To be around these family members and talking to them and listening to them, it hits you that this is why we do what we do. Even though sometimes it can be frustrating and hard, it's a good reminder of "Why? Why are we doing this?" We're doing it for people like Bob, people like Drew DePalma, who lost their family members.
It was interesting to be there for all of it. It was also pretty sad. Everyone was obviously upset and telling their story. It just makes you want to fight even harder to try to get some justice for these people. I think the brilliant way that Dylan put this together, where it's much more about rather than sit down interviews, it's about these people and their journey and their struggle and the psychology of it and seeing them in action rather than having them just sit down, repeating the same stuff over and over again. It's completely different. I really love the way it's coming together, and I'm impressed that Dylan was able to do all of this so quickly and so well.
And also I have to give a shout out to our director of photography because he's absolutely fantastic. I said to Dylan earlier today, I couldn't imagine working with anyone else other than Dylan and Ryan O'Hara our director of photography. I think we make a great team, and I'm really happy with the way things are turning out.
There's a lot of unsung heroes involved in this film, and I've heard a lot about these people, and Dylan's got a great crew. Dylan, go ahead and talk a little bit more about them.
Yeah, I figured if Kelly wasn't going to plug Ryan then I was going to. I thought you were going to lead with Ryan. I thought you're going to be like, "Well, the most amazing part of the shoots has been Ryan." No, Ryan's is great. He's a guy I met through the documentary that I edited while I was living out in L.A. and just stayed in touch with him throughout the years. And we hired him for a small scale thing back in 2017. Then obviously we hired him for SEVEN, and we were all obviously very excited to bring him back for this. He recommended a camera change from what we had shot SEVEN on. I was initially hesitant just because I was really happy with SEVEN. But then I looked into it, and it was the right move.
The movie is gorgeous. It would've still looked gorgeous on the Vera cams, which is what we shot SEVEN on. But this movie is beautiful. It's weird to say that about a movie that's about 9/11 and all these terribly tragic stories. But I guess If nothing else it'll make it easier to digest. I don't know. It's weird to describe a movie about 9/11 is beautifully shot. People are like, "Oh, people were going to be making movies about 9/11, I suppose, no matter what, especially now."
I was reading an article; it was about 19 movies that are coming out for the 20th anniversary. And it's like, "Holy... it's a lot." Not that I expect anything different, but it just goes to show you, everyone's got an angle, everyone's got something different to say.
I think if nothing else, it's been sad, but I think that this is not quite what people are expecting from you guys. In certain veins, it definitely is, but in other veins, it's definitely not. I'm curious. I would be curious to see how it was not received. I would be curious to see how it would be received if it weren't for the subject matter, and if it weren't about the people and what these people were saying. I'm curious to see the reception in general. I'm curious to see the reception to the trailer, which we'll find out soon enough.
It's been a hell of a crunch to get it done, and we're racing across the finish line here, but everything that's been done so far has been done really well, and it's all come together fairly easily all things considered, knock on wood. I'm going to get off this interview and get back to work on it.
There you go. I've never met this Ryan person, but I got to give a shout out to him too, because some of the imagery that's captured in this film is just perfect and brilliant. I don't want to even give it away. I'm stuck in the spot where I don't want to give away any spoilers and ruin anything for the audience, but there's certainly things I want to talk about, maybe after some time passes and everyone's seen it.
But the trailer that's coming out, and it should be out by the time this interview runs, starts off with this great image of the Freedom Tower, and the sky above it is so dark. What a way to capture this ironic world that we live in 20 years after the event. The Freedom Tower, but you have this dreary sky over it, and it feels like what we were put into after September 11, this dystopian feel looking up at these tall buildings in New York City. They just capture it so right.
And there's other things, too. We'll talk about it on some other day, but certain shots that I've told Dylan, that was brilliant. Perfect. Definitely worth checking out more, and that's an understatement here for me. According to our article on the film, I'm going to take a quote from it. "It's interwoven with their stories or the elucidating words of psychologist Robert Griffin, who guides the audience through an exploration of trauma and the healing power of bringing suppressed truths to light." Dylan, why did you focus so much on the psychological aspects of our mission in this film that's coming out 20 years later?
I wanted to have something different. Maybe that sounds stupid, but I wanted to have some take on the post 9/11 world and not only the unresolved trauma of 9/11 family members, who are still searching to this day for answers, but unresolved trauma of America and 9/11 and how I feel we never really dealt with our trauma. We never really dealt with 9/11 in a healthy way. I really wanted to attempt to, I don't know if I've pulled it off yet, but I wanted to at least attempt to draw a parallel between the pain and the unresolved trauma of 9/11 of these family members and also of America itself and how it also has unresolved trauma that it has yet to properly deal with. As anyone will tell you, unchecked trauma when left to simply sit and fester is not a good thing. You need to confront your trauma and you need to try to find ways to deal with it in a healthy way.
The worst thing you can do with your trauma is ignore it and so, unfortunately, I think that's mostly what we did, both immediately after 9/11 and even now 20 years since. We had our commission hearings and we had our investigations into the buildings and we went to war and we now have a security apparatus that wasn't there before. We have a surveillance state that wasn't there before.
Obviously all the things that we all know now that we all bang on about, but the fact of the matter is that I don't think that we dealt with 9/11 in a healthy way, and I don't think it's really a controversial statement to make. I was really just hoping to find a way to kind of wrap that message up and what these people are still going through after all these years.
I guess we'll see if we pulled it off.
Do you remember when you brought the idea of a psychologist up?. You sent me a text message and said, "Just go with me here. Do we know any psychologists?" And that was one of the first things you said right after we got basically hired to do this job. And I was like, "Okay." I remember looking into it, and now it just seems like I cannot imagine the film without that aspect to it.
I had to just throw a wild card into the mix immediately, something to shake it up. The other motivation behind is that I didn't want to have a narrator or a host. I didn't want to have to worry about having to stitch things together in the edit with a voiceover or whatever.
I also was hoping to make Robert a little bit of the host of the movie, a little bit of the central voice, so to speak. I feel like it's an idea that came from somewhere else, but like you said, Kelly, I definitely am glad we took the gamble on it, and it so far seems to have worked out pretty well. It's different. It helps break things up, and he does the job we need him to do. I just threw something in of his an hour ago, this new little bit that I found. I had something from him somewhere already, but I wasn't a hundred percent in love with it, because I was actually going through him for another chapter, I found this other bit, and I was like, "Ooh, that's actually better for this other thing." I had to open up act one and swap that thing out. But that's editing.
Yeah, that's how it works when you come up with some kind of work of art. Your brain starts firing and you start coming up with ideas, and it feels like it's coming from somewhere else. It's coming from you, but it feels like it's coming from somewhere else.
I really think this is going to be a masterpiece in this genre or whatever you want to call it. I think this is really going to stand out, and a lot of people are going to like it. And you talk about narrators as well. I like that kind of style. I'm not against narrators, but I like things that can speak for themselves. Just like any creative writing class will tell you, show don't tell. I think you accomplished that very well.
So Kelly, I want to know about you because everything we do affects us. It's very easy to be very business-like or act like we're all business-like with these things, but every step along the way affects us. What was the most memorable experience for you during your shooting of this film and the trips that you guys took?
Oh wow. Most memorable. God, there were so many. We didn't just run and finish all the shoots in a week. We traveled back and forth a couple of times where I even lost count how many times we met up and were working on this. God, what is the most memorable day? There's so many moments. I guess I'd have to say when Cyril Wecht agreed to be part of it. I had known who he was for a very long time because of his work on the JFK assassination and other true crime stories that I know he had worked on. To me, there's three forensic pathologists that you'll know if you're a true crime buff, and he's definitely one of them. And Dylan and I really wanted to get him. And he's 90 years old and still working.
Do you want to build this story up? This is actually a hell of a story. This is one for the record books. I don't want you to just blow. I want you to tell it, but I'll set it up and you take it home. How does that sound?
I'll set them up, you knock them down. Obviously we're all, I would imagine, pretty intimately familiar with Bobby McIlvaine and what happened to him and the questions that Bob has regarding that subject. We went into this project and Bob was the first shoot on the first day. He was just an interview that had been lined up. He was ready to go. So it's like, "All right, great. Let's go interview Bob. McIlvaine. This'll be a nice, great welcome back to the world of 9/11." I couldn't think of anything better than sitting down with Bob.
"And after doing so, it really became clear that I was staring the central mystery of this movie in the face. The conversation with Bob turned at one point. I was like, "So have you ever gotten an official opinion on this autopsy that you have? Have you ever just shown it to someone and been like, "What does this look like to you?"
His answer was basically like, "Oh, I got a pretty limited opinion back in 2007, 2008." No one has ever really looked at it and given him a straight answer. So, coming out of the interview, I was like, "Kelly, can we get an answer? Can we find someone that we can show Bobby McIlvaine's autopsy and get some commentary on?"
As the film progressed and we opened up to the Campbell inquiry and what happened to Geoff Campbell, we wanted someone to comment on that as well. So it was like, "All right, well now we really need to find a forensic pathologist," someone in that field who we can sit down and be like, "Look, we have these two cases that we want to talk about. Please give us your professional opinion." Originally, I was like, "Oh, well maybe we can get a montage of people." I needed someone to give some kind of closure to that story.
I was just driven. I saw what Bob had showed me, and I was like, "I need an answer." Bob needs an answer, even though he obviously already knows in his mind what happened, he doesn't need some guy in a suit to be like, "This is what happened." Because Bob knows what happened. I just wanted to maybe give the audience some of that closure. We were having trouble. So Kelly, take it from there. Talk about your search.
We must have called probably about 30 people in total to try to get someone to agree to look at an autopsy on camera. We had some leads. There was one guy who was very interested, and he said that he was having surgery, that we should come back in August. So, we did at the beginning of August and we were just striking out left and right. It didn't matter. Every time I think we were getting there, they'd either say no, or they just wouldn't answer, or they couldn't because they had something else going on.
And so on our last trip, we were wrapping up the story of the main four characters, and we were in Philadelphia, and someone I worked with suggested Cyril Wecht. And it's funny because someone else at AE had suggested him as well, but he had some sort of communication with him in an email, asking about a specific family member, wanting to look into his brother's death and Cyril Wecht turned him down. And so I was like, "I'm not sure. What is he going to say?"
While we were in Philadelphia, I get this email and I'm like, "Let's just call them. Let's just see what he says." We find out his office is closed. He doesn't open again until Monday at 8:30. This is a Friday night or Saturday.
Yeah. It's Friday at 6 p.m. It's literally the worst time for that email to come in. His office literally just closed.
Exactly. We were done. We had finished shooting everyone. I was like, "Let's just do this." We're taking a gamble here, but if this guy agrees, this will be the absolute best thing for this movie. Dylan and I hopped in the car and drove, what, five hours? Was it five hours?
We told the crew, we're like, "All right. So here's the deal. We're done here in Philadelphia. We're going to drive to Pittsburgh tomorrow, just to see." We had a final shoot Sunday morning and then it's like, "All right, we're going to do our final shoot Sunday morning and we're going to drive to Pittsburgh and if we strike out, then you all go home. We're all rolling the dice here. Hope you're all cool with it."
They were, because Ryan and Tim are pros. So I'm sorry, Kelly, take it back from there.
That's okay. It was a really long drive, and a lot of it was we have to go through tunnels in these mountains, so Dylan and I are constantly joking, "We've climbed the mountains to get to you." This joke going on about this.
I didn't want to get my hopes up too much because who knows? So we got there Sunday night, and then Monday morning, Dylan and I got up early, and the two of us went straight to his office and his secretary was there and...
Flo, yeah, Flo. So we told her why we're here, what we want. She seemed really excited about it. She said, "Well, he's not here yet, but why don't you just send him an email?" We went across the street to Starbucks and I asked him to write the perfect email for this and we did. How long did that email take? A half an hour anyway.
Oh God, yeah. Drink my entire cup of coffee. Just back and forth. "Oh, maybe we should say this" or, "Oh, I don't know about that."
Yeah. We got it. In my opinion, it was a really good email. Anyway. So then...
It was. It was an amazing email.
Yeah. Let's just go back to the Airbnb that we had rented and see what happens. Literally as we're turning down the street to get there, we get the email back, and he's saying like, "Hello, and, "How about Wednesday at 1:30?" I can't remember. I think he wanted us to call him first.
No, no, no, no. In your email, you ended with your phone number because we were waiting. We were waiting and waiting because we were at the Starbucks, right around the corner from his office. So we're just waiting for him to call.
It's just like, "Ah, let's just go back to the Airbnb." And I was like, "You know what, we're going to pull up to the house and he's going to call us." Literally we were a couple blocks away from the house 'cause I told Kelly, "In this day and age we all get spam calls all day, every day." I was like, "What's the Pittsburgh area code? All right. If you get a call from that number then you know it's Cyril." Sure enough.
We get a call and I put it on speaker phone. I talked to him and he was like, "What's this about?" I gave him a brief idea, and he said, "How about Wednesday at 1:30?" This is Monday.
And I was like, "Sure." It gave us the next day to prepare for it and everything that we needed. I actually was telling someone this story lately and I jokingly said, "I got so excited after I hung up the phone with him. I sort of beat you up a little bit. I remember punching your arm, to punching your shoulder like, "Yes, we got this."
It was a great. That was the most exciting thing because we wanted this so badly and felt that this would be so much more powerful if we have him of all people looking at Bob McIlvane's autopsy for the first time and other things and there was other stuff that we had found that we wanted him to read on camera and comment about. I don't want to give the movie away, but in the end, it worked out excellent.
We did the interview. We were so short on time. I had already booked my flight home. We shot the interview and then rushed to pack up everything and drive...
Yeah. Like Ryan had a shoot in LA the next day so there was no like, "Hey, can you stay tonight too?" It was just an absolute Hail Mary from start to finish. I still cannot believe that that all happened. There's definitely one for the documentary record books, at least for me personally.
Yeah, definitely for me.
Guys, I know you worked very hard on this, and I want to make sure I get this in front of the audience. We have a screening, online screening, of The Unspeakable happening. Just go to AE911truth.org on September 10th. This will be at 8 o'clock Eastern time, 5 Pacific. We're going to be screening the film and then Rosie O'Donnell is going to be leading the Q&A with family members and other people who appear in this film, talking about it, talking about their own experiences. This is going to be something you do not want to miss. So September 10th, 8 o'clock Eastern, 6 Pacific AE911truth.org. I'll be opening it for us, and check it out because it'll be well worth your time.
Dylan, Kelly, thank you so much for all the work you did. You guys kind of did this and in the sense of the film world kind of last minute, but we got a great product as a result. Thank you for just putting yourselves into this fight and keeping on going here as we move forward. I think we are getting closer to having a full acknowledgement of what really happened and getting justice for the families. It's because of your work and the work of so many others out there. So thank you. Thank you for coming on 9/11 Free Fall today, too.
Thank you for having us.
Yeah, thank you, Andy.