Escaping is complicated...
...when you don't want to leave
Released in spring 2016, Pretty Strong is a short dystopia thriller about two lifelong friends who enrol at a new school, although this is not a conventional school. As one excels the other struggles to come to terms with the fact that graduating does not mean you leave with a diploma, or even leave at all.
About the Film
The age at which eating disorders develop among both boys and girls is getting alarmingly younger we hear about an increasing number of cases where children as young as five being treated for eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and other a-typical eating disorders. Eating disorders are difficult, if not impossible to be understood by someone on the outside, leaving those on the inside isolated from loved ones. Sufferers turn to their eating disorder for comfort and friendship. It offers a realisation for people trapped in this world themselves that their eating disorder is not their friend but their enemy, and escaping it is the only way to really be happy. The film’s overall message although rather dark, is positive one that recovery is possible if you keep fighting.
In place of a dissertation, during my final year at Bournemouth University, I was given the opportunity to head my first film project. We had the option of collaboration - and most people did collaborate with others, handing in shared projects. With ideas already quickly developing a year prior, I had decided that this story in particular was a chance to make my first piece a meaningful one.
Although I was allowed to ask for aid from peers to make up crew and script specialists for tips on story development, I knew that what I had in mind was really going to test me; especially with the time constraints put to me. I was eager to produce, write, direct and edit this film from start to finish. I was advised not to take on 20 minutes of screen time single-handedly by my lecturer and to half the length of my project, for risk of losing quality or even missing the deadline altogether. I knew that if I cut down the length anymore the narrative would start lose its intended impact. Excuse the cliché but I honestly had a gut feeling that I could do this, so I pushed on.
I cannot begin to explain just how much of a learning curve this was for me, and as hard and chaotic as it was, I really enjoyed all aspects of bring this story to life. I'd also like to just mention my brilliant DP Radi who was a reassuring source of support on some of the most manic of days out on location.
This project was always going to be more than just my final project at university, as I hold the subject matter quite close to heart. From that start I have been collaborating with charities such as B-eat and Mind to advertise this film and its important message. So when I published it on Youtube I had hoped for it to get a fair amount of views. So far the feedback I have gotten is phenomenal. Knowing that this film might have made a difference to someone's choice to recover and not to give in, has given me so much more satisfaction than just making something for the grade. Now with over one hundred and ten thousand view and counting, I am hoping to continue to share this film with help from charities and mental health based events all over the UK and the world through social media.