Skye Borgman’s new Netflix true-crime documentary follows the shocking events that unfolded on June 3, 2019, when 17-year-old Anthony Templet called 911 and informed the operator, “I just killed my dad. But the director doesn’t believe he’s as deadpan as he appears in the footage of his flawless first interview with the police.
The docuseries have been appropriately named I just killed my father after Templet’s strangely candid words. The three-part show, which debuted on Netflix on Tuesday, follows the emotional aftermath of that day – and the years of abuse Anthony Templet says he suffered at the hands of his father, Burt Templet, before it.
Borgman, whose previous documentaries have included Removed in plain sight, dead asleep and Girl in the photoTold Filmmaker on the peeling of Templet’s complex layers during one-on-one interviews with him — and how she got to know the child beneath all the walls he erected to deal with his unorthodox childhood. As I just killed my father explains, Templet was never allowed to go to school or have friends his own age, and lived his life under constant surveillance.
“Anthony is such an interesting young man because he has a little trouble telling his story,” Borgman said. Filmmaker. “It was sometimes difficult to get him to talk. But he also just needed to be able to verbalize about it, and he wanted to be able to tell his story in his words. And it was also very helpful, I think, to have this practice of talking to us about telling this story, and really owning this story and realizing what happened to it… putting those words together was very powerful, and I think very healing.
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Templet never denied killing his father, but he always claimed it was in self-defense. His initial charge of second degree murder was reduced to a manslaughter charge, and he eventually pleaded no contest to negligent homicide. He is currently serving five years of probation with credit for time already served. Apart from the conditions of probation, he is free to live his life as he sees fit.
Although the first episode of the docuseries shows Anthony Templet’s emotionless response to shooting and killing his father, as the series progresses, Borgman explains, it becomes clear that Templet’s emotionless exterior is a traumatic response to years of physical and emotional abuse.
“I think he’s dealing with a lot of emotions from everything that’s happened in his life over those two or three years with just kind of, I mean, he’s blocking out a lot of things and he’s not sharing a lot,” she said. “Those dead eyes that people talk about, or the fact that he has no emotion, it’s a traumatic response. And that’s how he managed his whole life, with his father.
Borgman says she built the show’s emotional arc in order to help viewers see past the shock factor of her father’s death and into Anthony’s heart as a person.
“As you watch the show, you can kind of watch it and wonder what’s going on with it. And as you go through the second episode and the third episode, you start to understand what are the actions of this young man – where they are rooted and where they come from, and that this is a response to trauma, and that he is not just an insensitive child, that he there are a lot of feelings there, but that’s how he deals with them.
Main image: Anthony Templet in I just killed my father courtesy of Netflix.