Young people screen their mental health films for Southampton Film Week opening night

Date Created: 20th Nov 2018

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For the opening night of this year’s Southampton Film Week (9-18 November), there was a celebratory screening of two short films – Dear Anxiety and Ready to Talk. The films were created through the Prince’s Trust Get Started in Film initiative, delivered by City Eye (the local film organisation based in Southampton’s new Studio 144 arts complex). Our Apprentice Meg attended the screening, and tells us more below. 

Words: Meg Hockley

To open the evening, the young people who had taken part in the Get Started in Film project introduced themselves. One of the actresses from the films gave an informative speech on the purpose of the funding, what the project had taught them, and why they were all originally interested in being involved in it. Through the project, she explained, they had all been able to acquire skills in a range of film industry areas, including acting, editing, directing, and scriptwriting. Some of the participants admitted that specific areas had taken them out of their comfort zones; they all possessed different strengths which helped them create the impressive, emotionally charged films together, as a team. They explained how they were glad that the project had challenged them in different ways, as it increased their confidence for the future, and opening up new and exciting ideas for future endeavours. Amongst all the other remarkable achievements that came from this project, it was impressive to note there had been 100% attendance from the participants too.

The first short film shown to the audience was Dear Anxiety. It was narrated using a short poem written about the ‘demons’ that form anxiety and how they can plague someone, and stop them from reaching their full potential. The film featured two young actors shown in debilitating circumstances as a result of their anxiety, with one actor tossing and turning on the sofa, appearing distressed and alone. However, the end stanza represented a kick back against the character’s mental health struggles, showing the possibility and power in overcoming inner turmoil.

The second film, Ready to Talk, mirrored a counselling session that many people facing mental health struggles may have experienced. The two young actors – one portraying the counsellor, the other playing the role of an individual being counselled – displayed the conflict between wanting to open up but not feeling entirely ready to face the potential consequences and their associated emotions. The distress was shown here in the character leaving the room and falling to the floor with her head in her hands. The film drew to a close with her re-entry, as she exclaimed, “I’m ready”.

Both Dear Anxiety and Ready To Talk effectively fused together the struggles of wanting to beat mental health issues and how the ways of thinking that often accompany anxiety tell tales of this feeling like an impossible task. Despite this tension, both films addressed this struggle in their positive end scenes, showing the sufferers deciding to take the first step towards recovering.

I spoke to Abbie, writer of the poem featured in Dear Anxiety, about her experience.

Were you interested in film before the project?

Yes, previously I was an art student. I used to mainly focus on collages and drawing though.

Any suggestions for the project in the future?

No real changes I would make, although having the project slightly longer may have been beneficial as it was quite tiring to do across just five days!

What’s your favourite film and why?

Painful Secrets. It deals with real life self-harm; most films don’t tend to visit that. It’s an older film you can find on Youtube.

Would you encourage other young people to take part in projects like this in the future?

Yes, definitely!

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If you are struggling with your own issues of anxiety or mental wellbeing, or would just like to learn more about mental health in general, the Young Minds website is full of helpful information and free resources. Find out more at https://youngminds.org.uk/find-help/

You can find out more about the Prince’s Trust Get Started initiative here: https://www.princes-trust.org.uk/help-for-young-people/unlock-your-potential/discover-new-talents

To find out what Artswork can offer young people in Hampshire, from work-based learning, to apprenticeships and training, go here: https://artswork.org.uk/programmes/work-based-learning/

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Arts Award Artsmark South East Bridge Work-based learning

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