Being a pioneer in Positive Psychology makes it perfect for me to be a Pioneer in Selfie Films that are both artistic and educational

Being a pioneer in Positive Psychology (THE ENCHANTED SELF, A POSITIVE THERAPY) has well seasoned me to be a pioneer in Selfie Films. What is the purposed of psychology? It is understand the human mind and then to help people achieve good mental health. Understanding the mind, the way we think and feel, gives psychologists an edge in helping people as we can not only give advise and support, but can help with the strategies and steps necessary to feel better. Right now, the youth in our country have many pressures that they are dealing with. Sometimes the pressures lead to anxiety or depression, sometimes drugs, sometimes suicide. What can I do with my training to help kids and parents? Of course I can give a lecture or write a paper. But drama and story telling are often much more effective than those options. Drama, since ancient times has awakened people to what they need to do with their lives and how to handle themselves. That’s what I am doing in making Selfie films that bring to light many adolescent problems in away that penetrates without leading to despair.

I am thrilled to be making Selfie films that can successfully compete artistically in film festivals and then can also be used as important educational tools in and out of the classroom to assist in opening the doors to better mental health for kids, tweens and teens. Let me give an example, ‘The Truth, a Short Film’ is made up of sixteen scenes that are filmed by the star, Cassidy Terracciano, on her cell phone. Directed by me, but ultimately left by herself to film, using her iphone the scenes, adapted from my book, ‘The Truth, Diary of a Gutsy Tween’,https://www.amazon.com/Truth-Diary-Gutsy-Tween/dp/1628736119/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1497579125&sr=8-1&keywords=the+truth+diary+of+a+gutsy+tween we experience an intimacy with the actress that is amazing. Like most of us, left alone in the shower we reach our ultimate singing voice, I believe that directing but then letting kids do the filming by themselves without a crew watching, is to the advantage for the audience,the material and the actor.

I present the kinds of issues, that left unchecked and not understood by the child and/or family members, can lead to depression, eating disorders, panic attacks, poor grades, drugs and even the ultimate worst, suicide. That’s because nothing is trivial when we are growing up. A crush that goes bad, a decision to move to a new town, friends left behind, parents fighting or maybe a divorce, friends teasing or bullying, all of these situations and many more can lead to a mental health crisis for a particular child.

However, I do not tell a dark story as a pioneer in Selfie Films. My films are uplifting and entertaining. The central characters find workable and uplifting solutions to their problems. The audience laughs, groans, remembers when they were that age, and are ready to start important conversations. I believe that combining potentially serious developmental subjects in a new form of filmmaking will result in happier kids, more successful parenting and mental health care when necessary in a more timely fashion.

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.

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.

#Almost 13

Why is it that the ‘Girl’ in The Truth, first known as The Truth, I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything, and now re-issued as The Truth, Diary of a Gutsy Tween, can be acted by almost any girl between the ages of 8 and 17?  Why can she be acted in the play version, ‘The Locket’ one moment by a girl of 9 and a few minutes later played by a girl of 15?  The answer is simple, the ‘Girl’ in The Truth is not only #Almost 13, she is someone that we all have either been, are now or will be some day.  If we are girls and/or women, we have to pass through many of the moods, feelings, opportunities and passages of life that she passes through.

All of us have had at one time a first crush, most have had to move, many have had siblings, many have had parents fighting, many have felt left out by friends or misunderstood by teachers, parents, others, many have been bullied or put down.  I could go on and on.  But the truth is, the ‘Girl’ is universal in spirit.

By the way, that is why I didn’t name her.  If you wish her to have a name, name her!  Maybe it will be your name or your daughter’s or a friend.

Of course, when it comes to going public in a film or a play, then choosing the right actress for a particular version of The Truth becomes relevant.  When I decided to produce ‘The Truth, a Short Film’ I knew I wanted Cassidy Terracciano to be the star.  I had seen her acting skills and I felt she would be perfect to capture a girl going on 13 in a short film.

However, on many other occasions,  in some of the staged readings of ‘The Locket’ I want as many girls as possible to play the ‘Girl’.  That’s what you see in the picture above.

New Short Film, ‘The Truth’ stars CassidyTerracciano, now Meet Her Mom!

Meet Sandie, a wonder woman of today! When Lin, myself and Sandie started to film Cassidy we were totally unfamiliar with some of the facets of making a film. I knew you need a script and I supplied that. That was easy for me as the ‘Girl’ in The Truth has been my baby for over 10 years now. She has come to life for me through three versions of my book, a play version and now a film version. Cassidy is already a great actress and Lin Pernille is a great photographer. And of course, Sandie is a great mom, bringing up 5 wonderful children. However, we didn’t know for example, anything about taking B roles of the shoots. Nor did we think ahead about Cassidy changing clothes for each scene, exactly how we would do that, etc. Also, we were not initially planning to do a Selfie version of the ‘Girl’s’ diary entries. Now we had to learn even more about filming when Jon Seiler, our editor came on board.

At every step of the way Sandie pitched in and helped us. She became the stage manager of the costume changes. She learned how to do B role footage. Basically, the film or films (there is so much footage that I hope to produce more than one film) could not have happened without Sandie. Thank you Sandie!!!

The Selfie is central to ‘The Truth, a Short Film’

In today’s world of course, lots of kids, keep a diary. But something else has happened. Many are not only taking Selfie pictures but are also speaking up. Speaking up into their phones ‘the truth’ of the moment as they see it. Sometimes these words from the heart stay just on the phone or get deleted for something else. But sometimes, who knows what happens to them? What we do know is we have a new easy means to send our thoughts and feelings into the universe. But what we may forget, and certainly kids often don’t know the risks, these filmed Selfies may land not in the atmosphere but somewhere. And it is that somewhere that can be safe or dangerous.

The ‘Girl’ in The Truth, a Short Film, keeps her diary and at times speaks out, whether into her video camera or her phone. Maybe one of the most important messages she is really sharing with the public is how intense the feelings, emotions, and concerns are to kids as they are moving from childhood to adulthood. Us older folks forget a lot of the angst. We are way past our first crush, our early rages toward our parents, our fears if we have to change schools, our pain at a best friend no longer being one, or fear if there is a bully in our daily path, our frustration with an annoying sibling, our concern if our parent were fighting. But there are tons of kids, millions out there just beginning to experience all of the above and at times much more.

My hope is that the ‘Girl’ in The Truth, a Short Film and in the book The Truth, will be a beacon who not only helps kids feel stronger and more courageous as they undertake all the universal steps of growing up, but that she will remind parents, grandparents, teachers, neighbors, and all concerned with our children that indeed it does take a village to support and nourish and encourage a kid. We all have a role to play. If you are a parent, listen and advise with intelligence and sensitivity. And all the other players in a child’s life play by the golden rule, treat any child who crosses your path with the kindness, respect and helpfulness that hopefully you got growing up, or still at best what if you could go back and be a child again, you would have wanted for yourself.

If An Actress Can Play Anne Frank, She’s Good! That’s Cassidy Terracciano, Star of ‘The Truth, A Short Film’

When I saw Cassidy play the part of Anne Frank in a production directed by Bob Angelini, I knew I had my ‘Girl’.  Cassidy is one of those talented actresses who not only picks up the style and mindset of her character, but she also pours into her character an intensity and energy that makes the person come so alive.  I’m so lucky that she could work with our team this summer as we started production.

Some of you may know that she also was ‘The Girl’ from The Truth in a staged reading of ‘The Locket’ my play based on The Truth.  This happened in May in Manhattan at the Dramatist Guild.

Watch a little bit of Cassidy’s Staged Reading about how the boy she was in love with is beginning to disappoint her!

 

 

 

Making a short film is the most amazing experience!

Making The Truth, A Short Film, is the most amazing experience.  Think of it this way: A women entering or should I say having entered her wisdom years, who was teaching second and first graders who now are ???? years old themselves, finds that life has taken her from the classroom to the psychology treatment room to head space where authors sit up late at night writing their books, to becoming a playwrite and now, as if a magic wand has been circled around her head, she is producing an independent film she has written.

Does that sound exciting to you? It is certainly exciting to me, as I am that person.  Where lots of my friends are playing golf or preparing to be a snow bird, I am looking at these 20 fabulous scenes, videotaped by Lin, acted by Cassidy, staging and costuming helped by Cassidy’s mom, filmed in my friend Kirsten’s Tea House, the White House on Monmouth Road in Oakhurst, and I am filled with the kind of rapture that only comes with creation and fulfillment of a life dream or project.

I’ll be telling you lots more in further blogs.  In fact, we want to share the whole process with you as the film emerges and is sent into festivals around the country.  This is too much fun and too important in terms of the messages embedded in The Truth about growing up and staying strong to keep it quiet!

Stay with us for the adventure!  Let’s walk that walk together.IMG_1924(2)