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 emotionless as he seems in the footage from his first unflinching interview with the police.
The docuseries was appropriately named I Just Killed My Dad after Templet’s oddly candid words. The three-part show, which debuted Tuesday on Netflix, follows the emotional aftermath of that day — and the years of abuse that Anthony Templet says he suffered at the hands of his father, Burt Templet, before that.
Borgman, whose previous documentaries have included Abducted in Plain Sight, Dead Asleep and Girl in the Picture, told MovieMaker about peeling back Templet’s complex layers during one-on-one interviews with him — and how she got to know the kid beneath all of the walls he put up in order to cope with his unorthodox childhood. As I Just Killed My Dad explains, Templet was never allowed to attend 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 bit of a hard time telling his story,” Borgman told MovieMaker. “It was hard sometimes to get him to talk. But he also just needed to be able to verbalize about this, and he wanted to be able to tell his story in his words. And it was also very helpful, I think, to have that practice to be talking to us about telling this story, and to really own that story and realize kind of what had happened to him… putting those words together was very powerful, and I think very healing.”
Templet has never denied that he killed his father, but he has always argued that it was in self-defense. His original 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. Aside from the terms of probation, he is free to live his life as he pleases.
Although the first episode of the docuseries shows Anthony Templet’s emotionless response to having just shot and killed his father, as the series progresses, Borgman explains, it becomes clear that Templet’s emotionless exterior is a trauma response to years of physical and emotional abuse.
“I think he deals with a lot of the emotions of everything that happened in his life in this two or three-year span with just kind of, I mean, he blocks a lot of things out and he doesn’t share a lot,” she said. “Those dead eyes that people talk about, or him having zero emotion, it’s a trauma response. And it’s how he’s dealt with all of his life, dealing with his dad.”
Borgman says she built up the emotional arc of the show in order to help viewers see past the shock factor of the death of his father and into the heart of Anthony as a person.
“As you’re watching the series, you can sort of watch him and you’re questioning what’s going on with him. And as you move through the second episode and into the third episode, you’re starting to understand what this young man’s actions — where they’re rooted and where they come from, and that it is a trauma response, and that he’s not just an unfeeling kid, that there’s a lot of feelings going on there, but this is how he deals with them.”
Main Image: Anthony Templet in I Just Killed My Dad courtesy of Netflix.