‘The Truth, a New Film’ , Wonder Woman and Selfies

As a psychologist I am concernced that by age 12 the angst and hormonal storm of adolescence often takes over and girls put less effort into their academic studies, while at the same time get caught up in the over sexualized aspects of our culture. Too soon many tweens and teens are less enthusiastic about their talents and academics. That combined with self-esteem problems, often intensified by an atmosphere that encourages bullying, can lead to all sorts of problems from eating disorders to experimentation with drugs, to suicide.

Our girls are in desperate need of a role model. Perhaps Wonder Woman is that role model. A series of articles in the New York Times, including one by Jessica Bennett, ‘Wonder Woman’s Real Power’ make clear how important it is for girls to have role models that give them the message that: I am a leader, and you have also the traits that get you to this level. Bennett’s article concludes, “…we don’t want girls to strive only to be superheros. But we do want them to believe the have the strength to be one….”

How do we overcome girls being exposed to too few role models that excite, enhance and confirm a girl’s hopes and dreams as to what she can become, combined with a society that is less than kind in all sorts of ways, including peer pressure as exemplified by bullying.

One of the newest and most intriguing ways to overcome these societal flaws is the use of the Selfie. Selfies are not just an instrument for vanity, pranks or to record a meal out with friends. The Selfie, particularly the video functions that Selfies allow, are amazingly suited to offset a lack of role models and such actions as bullying. For example, KIRO7 reported ‘Bellevue girl bulled at school asks for help, Facebook post goes viral.’ What could be more moving than seeing this young girl, Alison Grande, tell her story via a Selfie video gone viral? And she didn’t even talk, just used cards that she held up to tell her story? At my last check she had reached more than 670.000 people.

Selfies are one of the nirvanas of hope for all of us who want to turn your kid or all kids into super heroes of life as they grow up.

Like Alison, kids can use Selfies as a means of sharing concerns via social networks or just between family, when it may be easier for a child to share in a video what is bothering her. Kids really talk when they make a Selfie, not just the one word answers parents so often hear.

As a psychologist and a filmmaker, I have developed a new way to use Selfies in film, for artistic, educational and mental health purposes. I have developed what I call ‘Selfiesasfilm’ which is a merging of the Selfie video with a film crew. The advantages are many. For example, the stars of my films thus far have been teens. When they film themselves, privately, and then see that video film become part of a film that has drama, meaning and purpose, they are given incredible positive feedback. They see themselves already as powerful role models and realize their work will assist other young people feel better about themselves and have more courage about their future. SelfiesasFilm is a powerful learning tool for all: the actors, the audiences, educators, mental health professionals and parents.

For example, my #SelfiesasFilm ‘The Truth, A Short Film’ is filmed by Cassidy Terracciano using phone to make selfie videos and also a film crew. The result is an intense, personal story told by the ‘girl’ in the film. She shares all the angst of growing up, including a first crush, a best friends, family fighting, family getting ready to move, fears about adolescence, etc.

I am so excited to announce that this film is now available for streaming at cinecosmos.vhx.tv/ This means that you and your family can watch it anytime and use it to discuss all sorts of issues that we all have, some serious, some lighthearted and fun. I know you will find this 16 minute film something you want to see again and again! Feel free to write to me at barbara.holstein@gmail.com!

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!

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!