Film on bullying makes an impact

April 23, 2010

Film on bullying makes an impactA Perth-made film about the devastating effects of bullying has picked up an international film award.

Produced by former Murdoch University media student Brad Major and written and directed by AJ Carter, Ronan’s Escape recently received the highest award at the prestigious 2010 Sedona International Film Festival in the US, taking out the Best Short Film (Director's Choice) award.

Told over a day in the life of Ronan, portrayed by rising WA actor David Lazarus, and with very little dialogue, the almost 16-minute film was shot at Boddington, in the state’s South West, Helena Valley Primary School and Governor Stirling High School in 2008 and 2009.

Brad said the film depicted not just Ronan, the boy who is picked on by others, but those who bullied him and those who witnessed the bullying and did nothing.

“We wanted the bully to really understand how they made their victim feel,” Brad said.

“You see him bullied all day at school and he puts up with it all day and he goes home and sits on a tyre swing at a tree.

“He is visually upset about it all.”

It is not just one person who is the perpetrator, instead in every scene when Ronan is picked on; it is a different kid tormenting him and fellow students, teachers and even the bus driver fail to offer him any help.

The film about a social outcast labelled a loser by his school colleagues and helped by no one was a labour of love for most of the crew who worked on the film for little or no wages.

Brad, who produced the film while a student at Murdoch University as part of an independent study contract, said other students also offered their time for free for a chance to work on a production that was shot on 16 and 35mm film but also to make a film on a topic so prevalent, so insidious and which can have devastating impacts for its victim.

Ronan’s Escape is already making that difference; Brad and a team of filmmakers travelled to Narrogin Senior High School last year to work with a group of Year 11 and 12 students.

They helped the students to film a six minute movie from a script they wrote, filmed over a weekend with a cast and crew numbering about 50 in total and also showed the budding filmmakers around the Murdoch campus when they visited Perth.

Brad said he is also hopeful of having the film, with a more reflective ending rather than the heartbreaking original, screened in State Government high schools.

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