President Donald Trump expressed powerful messages about bringing up girls that parallel my work as a psychologist and now a filmmaker!

What are the core messages of my work? They are actually what President Donald Trump, during a recent speech for Women’s History Month, stated, “We want every daughter in America to grow up in a country where she can believe in herself, believe in her future, and follow her heart, and realize her dreams.”

I believe these core messages come through in all my writings, my work as a therapist in the treatment room, my talks, websites, charitable outreach efforts, plays I’ve written, books and films I’ve made based on both The Truth, Diary of a Gutsy Tween and Secrets, Diary of a Gutsy Teen. I am proud and excited about my new way of delivering my core messages. That latest method is through the production of my innovative, award winning ‘selfie films’.

In both of my films, ‘The Truth, A Short Film’ and ‘Falling in Love, A Coming of Age, Selfie Film’, the girl is able to find a pathway back to herself which gives her the energy, focus and stamina to go on successfully with her life. In the first film, ‘The Truth’ she achieves this in part by putting a secret message to herself into her locket which she can then wear close to her heart. In the second film ‘Falling in Love’ the girl finds a way to regain her sense of self and well-being through reaching deep inside of herself even when feeling miserable. Getting in touch with herself gives her the strength to go on.

The truth is in life, that unless we are able to savor our own talents, strengths and potential we are destined to be at the mercy of others. Everyone has an unique set of talents and potential. When these are crushed or not developed the person suffers. All of us have been stifled or put down at some point in growing up. But when it gets too much, for example when a kid is bullied, that person may end up so depressed that even suicide can take place.

I am thrilled to see President Trump’s remarks recently about how important it is for every girl in this country to grow up believing in herself and to follow her heart.

Yes, we must all make efforts to protect and educate our children so that they grow up able to get in touch with what I call their ‘Enchanted Selves’. That is the part of us that responds to a chance to use our talents, strengths and potential and responds to encouragement, love, good education, opportunities, etc. Yes, every child deserves to feel whole and able to follow her heart.

New e-book: A Selfie Film: Falling In Love: Based on Secrets of a Gutsy Teen

Trailer for 'Falling in Love, A Coming of Age, Selfie Video' from Barbara Holstein on Vimeo.

Making a film is an incredibly exciting adventure. Even more exciting is developing a new form of filmmaking where the character films her own scenes using her phone while a film crew works around her. I am proud to be one of the originators of this form of filmmaking.

The script is done, but the twists and turns are never expected. Just like writing a novel, I found each film I produce begins to have a life and destiny of its own. This is so true for ‘Falling in Love, A Coming of Age, Selfie Film’. Using real locations is fascinating in and of itself. We chose Tuzzio’s Restaurant in Long Branch, New Jersey for 4 of the scenes. This involved the restaurant opening just for us, including the cast and over 35 extras. Food was served and scenes were altered to represent different seasons of the year. It was so much fun. Megan Brown, the star, did such a great job chatting up her mom (played by her real mother, Cris Brown) as they eat in four different locations of the restaurant, always with the same waiter hovering. (See the film to find out why he is so important).

Another fascinating aspect to making the film was all the filming we didn’t use for this version of Falling in Love. Why? Not because it wasn’t great but because the film was revealing so many important topics and life events that kids go through as they grow up that we just couldn’t fit them all into one film!!! Finally, with some disappointment I as the director, had to choose the clear focus of this film and save footage for at least two more versions of the same story.

Afterall, one look at the same circumstances is never enough. We all know how the same moment in time can leave each person involved with a different reaction or impression. Yes, this was a year the girl fell in love, but it was also the year that lots of other things happened to her. They were just as important and alluded to in this 14 minute film. But they couldn’t be fully explored. They will be as I unfold the next version of ‘Falling in Love’. Will it be the importance of friends as we become teens or the frailties, disappointments and shocks of family life? Stay tuned….

Meanwhile, the wonderful thing about A Selfie Film: Falling In Love is that the reader gets to see behind the scene photos and some of the footage of the final film while becoming in immersed in thought questions and discussions that can take the reader on her own adventure of either remembering the important feelings and decisions of coming of age or have a base to discuss these concepts with her family, students, friends, etc.

News Blast:
Come in see the premiere of this film March 4,2017 at the Brightside Tavern Short Film Fest in Jersey City, New Jersey. It is up for two awards: Best Experimental Short Film, and Best New Jersey Short Film.

Coming of Age and Falling in Love, seen through the lens of a #SelfieFilm

Coming of Age is one of the most important hurdles that a young woman faces, filled with the issues of leaving childhood behind, the storm of the hormones and finding a place for oneself in society that is healthy, productive and fulfilling for whoever the young woman is becoming. Oftentimes it is also filled with disappointment and disillusionment about one’s chances in life. Girls suffer from all sorts of unexpected circumstances, including self-esteem blows, lack of academic opportunities, familiy strife, unexpected early pregnancies, drugs, etc.

I have been developing new means of sharing many of the above issues through the #selfiefilm.

There are so many new ways to use technology to tell these stories in film. I am proud do be an innovator specializing in Selfie Films. My innovative films incorporate Selfies as an integral part of filmmaking. In my latest film, ‘Falling in Love, A Coming of Age Selfie Film’, I’ve taken an historically important part of growing up, falling in love, using new Selfie technology to make the film. Megan Brown who plays ‘the Girl’, used her own iPhone to film all of her scenes. Not only that, she chose her own costumes, chose many of the settings and even improvised lines in some of the scenes. Thus we ended up with a story line that not only gives the audience many subjects to discuss about coming of age and dealing with the realities of a first crush but even gave the actress herself a chance to develop a sureness of herself as a creative person that wouldn’t happen in a usual filming situation. Of course we had a small crew of two camera people for B role shots and scenes. And the quality of the script had already been assured, as it comes from one of the books I have written for girls, tweens and teens. This book, ‘Secrets, Diary of a Gutsy Teen’, is published by Sky Pony Press.

What I particularly am excited about in this film is that you can use it as a teaching device, using each segment to further develop discussion and insights about subject material that relates to growing up, such as feeling lonely, anger at one’s parents for the decisions they make, jealousy, feeling sad, feelings of falling in love, recovering from down moods, etc.

Selfies as a New Took in Filmmaking

A recent story on The New York Times website featured a new web series, ‘Ocean Parkway’, which takes its ‘quirky’ characters from the neighborhood streets. The series looks at Brooklyn through the eyes of two tweens and their parents. That web series has now been pitched to HBO with four episodes and is under consideration for development.

There are not enough series, nor films that reflect the ordinary lives of people in a meaningful way and that can be watched by all ages. My life work, as a positive psychologist, is based on the belief that listening to ordinary kids, tweens, teens, and adults and deeply understanding their needs, passions, feelings, longings and goals is the best way to get real understanding, compassion and problem solving going. The results are often extraordinary, as strengths, talents and potential begin to emerge.

‘The Truth, a Short Film’ and now in production, ‘Secrets’ both reflect the ordinary and the extraordinary of girls, tweens and teens in our society. In each film, a young girl, moving from being a tween to a teen, confronts all the issues of her life. She has angst and joy, troubles and fun while dealing with everything from falling in love, to family upsets, to struggling with loss, to finding ways to hold on to the best of herself as her life continues to unfold.

My short two minute film, ‘The Truth, A Short Short Film’, premiered at FilmOneFest in July. The film was chosen as an Official Selection in the Chain Film Festival held in Manhattan on August 13, 2016. ‘The Truth, a Short Film’, a longer 16 minute portrayal of a girl growing up, has been officially selected for the Golden Door International Film Festival to be held in September 2016. The Rahway International Film Festival recently chose the 2 minute version as an Official Selection.

Yes, the character, based on the ‘girl’ in my two books, ‘The Truth’ and ‘Secrets’ is both ordinary and extraordinary. But there is another twist to all of this. And that is the use of the Selfie in film making.

In both of these films, the actual actress, in ‘The Truth’, Cassidy Terracciano, and in ‘Secrets’ Megan Brown, not only play the part of ‘the girl’ but they do their own filming via their phones. This is an incredible leap in filmmaking. I directed both girls, but not at the moments they finally filmed themselves. They did that at home alone in the privacy of the merger of themselves with the character. I’m excited to see the use of selfies not only enhancing the actor’s capacities to make the character come alive, but resulting in a film that is a more intimate, ‘real’ artistic experience, for the viewer.

What does this mean for the phenomenon of Selfies? I think it means that allowing a person to get closer to herself, whether that means capturing on video or in pictures oneself via Seflies or whether it means merging the deepest parts of an actress with the character at hand has tremendous potential for mental health and for filmmaking.

A Sequel to ‘The Truth’, ‘Secrets’ is Currently in Production, staring Megan Brown

In ‘Secrets’, a girl continues to share her most private thoughts and feelings on video, via her cell phone. We don’t know even for sure, if she keeps a paper diary. Maybe the videos of herself, as Selfie reports on her life are enough for her. But to whome is she speaking? Just to herself? To the universe? To a stranger? To someone she now trusts that she met on social media? In no one is the film dark, but rather I just bring up these questions as young teens of today have at their fingertips the whole world to cry out to.

And yet, even with the whole world, sometimes no one hears their cries. That is one reason ‘Secrets’ is such an important short film. We get to see the depth of emotion and frustration and loneliness that tweens and teens often experience. In the short scene uploaded here, you see how lonely the girl is now that the family has moved. It is painful!

Is it dangerous to keep a video secret diary on a cell phone?

The Truth, Growing Up in Today’s World of Social Media
A girl in the throes of growing up keeps her secret diary on her cell in video. Here she shares all her feelings and worries about fall in love, growing up, having a best friend, moving to a new town, her parents fighting, hating her mother, her body changing and developing and more. She figures out a secret message to put into her locket to help her keep the best of herself for the future.

Why is she keeping her secret diary on her phone? Isn’t paper good enough? Maybe not in today’s social media world. Maybe she is also sharing her private life and feelings with others. Who? Why? Do her parent’s know? Is this safe?

Think about if it were your kid.

The Girl in The Truth, a Short Film is Universal and reflects some of all of us!

One of the most exciting adventures I have had in my film making is having many different girls play the ‘Girl’ who came to life in my books, The Truth, Diary of a Gutsy Tween and Secrets, Diary of a Gutsy Teen. It is amazing to see so many different girls, all styles and types, leap into performing the ‘girl’ in their own way, and yet the universal qualities and feelings she has come across instantly. She really is some of the ‘girl’ that all of us women and girls have inside. Cassidy Terracciano has been one of the main ‘stars’. She plays the ‘girl’ in the first two films, the 16 minute version of The Truth: The Truth, a Short Film’ and the two minute version: ‘The Truth, a Short Short Film’. By the way, the short version is an official selection for the FilmOneFest and will be shown Saturday, July 16th in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey at the festival!!’The Truth, a Short Film’ already made its premiere performance as an Official Selection of the Garden State Film Festival in early April, 2016.

Megan Brown plays the ‘girl’ in the play version of The Truth, THE LOCKET. She will be also staring in the film version of Secrets which we are filming this summer.

There are also so many other girls who have played the ‘girl’ in a variety of scenes. Some girls have even made up their own scenes that incorporate her and her best friend Angela.

I love seeing the ‘girl’ come to life. She reflects the energy, honesty, vitality and fun loving aspects of being alive. She also reflects and shares the tough sides of growing up: the disappointments, the failings of parents, the loss of opportunity, and the coming to terms with a less than perfect situation. Above all, she is resilient and determined. She gets over her moods and comes out of the gloom when it happens. Hurrah for the ‘Girl’! May she always prosper!

Trailer for The Truth, a Short Film

Trailer for The Truth, a Short Film from Barbara Holstein on Vimeo.

A girl in the throes of growing up keeps her secret diary on her cell in video. Here she shares all her feelings and worries about fall in love, growing up, having a best friend, moving to a new town, her parents fighting, hating her mother, her body changing and developing and more. She figures out a secret message to put into her locket to help her keep the best of herself for the future. In 45 seconds you will get the film of this 16 minute film which is going to Premiere on April 3rd at the Garden State Film Festival, between 3 and 5.

Listen to Me! Don’t Turn Away! I’m Trying to Grow Up!

Growing up is tough. Us adults can still remember some of the pain, angst, frustration and often confusion. I know that I relied a lot on my parents to help me make it through. I remember in the Seventh Grade being so upset with older boys that swore in the hallways and older girls who wore lots of make-up to school. I was scared, fascinated but really confused. I remember coming home on a Friday and telling my parents that I wasn’t going back to school anymore. However, by Monday morning, there I was back on the bus, going to school. How did that happen? By my parents taking the time to listen to my upset and talking to me on and off all weekend. By Monday I realized that these kids were just being themselves, a couple of years older than me. I had nothing to worry about. I wasn’t in class with them, nor did I even need to talk to them. I was to go about my business in school and everything would be fine. Thanks to my parents, I was at peace again.

When I wrote The Truth, Diary of a Gutsy Tween and then Secrets, Diary of a Gutsy Teen, I wanted to include as many of the subjects as I could think of where kids need to be listened to, understood and helped to process their lives. So when I started working on the film version, the same thoughts were in my mind. In this short scene from the rehearsal scenes of The Truth, a Short Film, the ‘Girl’ played by Cassidy Terracciano, shares her pain that her mom doesn’t concentrate on what she is saying. That is a real problem for the ‘Girl’ as she needs ANSWERS. Not all answers can just wait. Like when to wear a bra? When to have sex? When to smoke or why never to smoke? Time marches on and one way of another an answer will be found.

So if you have a child growing up in your home, remember to listen. That means not multi-tasking and not using technology. It also means not folding clothes sometimes or even paying bills. This may be hard at first to honor but you know in your heart it is the way to go.

Do You Know What Your Daughter is Really Thinking About?

When Jon Seiler, my editor, to ‘The Truth, a Short Film’ and I began to process how to bring the girl in the film closer emotionally to the viewer, we decided that she should be ‘involved’ with her phone. After all, aren’t kids as well as parents all involved with their phones? Don’t we check them numerous times a day to see if someone or something has attempted to connect to us? Don’t we use them as a back up for security or company if we are alone in a restaurant or diner? And don’t we also use them to record our lives in various ways, from pictures of our check before we send it, to a travelogue, to a diary of the events in our lives, to ways of connecting ourselves, sometimes with regret later, to all the social media sites?

So we decided that the ‘girl’ in ‘The Truth,a Short Film’ should be using her cell phone as a diary and perhaps as the platform to send her pain and pleasure messages out into the universe. Were will she send her diary entries? To whom does she wish to be connected? And most of all, as we watch the film, will her sense of pain and the issues surrounding her be made more real to the audience as she talks to her cell? You will decide.

Meanwhile, kids use cell phones all the time and in this little video if the mom bothers to listen to the long message from her daughter she will perhaps realize what her daughter is thinking about. And what she is thinking about is quite serious. All kids think serious thoughts and worry. We just have to allow enough time to listen, comfort, suggest, and share with them!