Selfies as Film Can Lead to Good Mental Health

My films, as a positive psychologist, turned filmmaker, are carefully designed to connect with young people and to arouse feelings and memories in adults. They are raw and real, as much of the filming is done by the actress with her own iphone, augmented at times with a B-roll team of camera people. Is the lighting perfect? No. Is the sound totally even? No. Do the films teach, give hope, tell a real slice of life so touching that the audience laughs and sighs from deep in their bellies? Yes. I am very proud of my films as they represent a true bridge between the authentic ‘self’ that we all need to stay in touch with, within ourselves, for good mental health and the integration of selfies into film making. How does this happen? On at least two levels:
1. For the actor, using an iphone or android to record his part, doing this on his own, in a private space after directing has taken place, lets his open up in a more intimate, personal fashion than when a crew is around. If the actor is more intensely engaged in his character and more at ease, then the audience will feel this intensity and more depth is achieved in the film.
2. For the audience the deeper the authenticity on the screen, the more they are captivated and drawn in. That is important for the work I do is not just an art form, it is literally to save lives. As a psychologist I know the angst and pain that can go with growing up. I know that not only do kids, tweens and teens need help in understanding the process of growing up, but so do their parents and teachers.
So to make films that drawn you in as deeply as possible and at the same time arouse interest in serious subjects that need to be handled and understood as we grow up is a win-win for everyone.

My films are reminders of hope and courage in all the angst and despair one may feel growing up. ‘The Truth, Falling in Love’ and ‘Secrets, are teaching films in that we get to understand adolescence better. Grown-ups have simply forgotten many of the emotional aches and pains of growing up. They need to be reminded. Kids are living these moods and emotions right now, but don’t know how to evaluate how they feel and often don’t know how to reach solutions to challenging situations they are in. My films help both kids and adults by providing the information they need. For example, in ‘Secrets, A Coming of Age, Selfie Film’, based on themes in Secrets, Diary of a Gutsy Teen, the girl is filled with normal feelings of jealousy and worry as she waits for her mom to have a baby. Two things happen that are important. When she sees the baby she realizes she has the capacity for positive feelings toward her new sister. Also, her mom is smart and makes her feel that she is still extremely important and loved. This is learning material. Watching the film and discussing it helps kids and adults see how our emotions shift and can move from hurt and jealousy to affection and caring. Also, we learn how important it is for parents to say the right things at the right time.”

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!

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!!!

Can More Than One Girl Be ‘The Girl’? Yes, it is happening here, there and everywhere

The Truth, I’m a Girl, I’m Smart and I Know Everything!

Long story short, that book and it’s newer version, expanded to cover even more issues, The Truth, Diary of a Gutsy Tween, are the basis of my film AND the basis for other filming going on at this very moment about The Girl, played by other girls. That’s right! Up in the Boston area Pam Richard is filming girls playing ‘The Girl’ as part of their education. More to come in the next blog about the Boston Program and some of the other girls that have played ‘The Girl’ and even created dialogue for her, here, there and everywhere. Meanwhile, take a look at one of these students playing ‘The Girl’.

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)