Local filmmaker Matthew Marshall and his company m & s Marshall productions has been taking on the hot topic of high school bullying in his newest short film Malicious Attack which filmed a couple days over the holidays, right in the backyard of his home turf of London / St Thomas in Southwestern Ontario. To add to that “home grown” aspect the film has a certain St Thomas High School flair. Namely Parkside Collegiate Institute with Katie Ostojic, Morgan Flanagan and Elina Lattanzio who are all Parkside students and are all in principle roles as part of the short film. The cast also includes a number of other PCI students including Mallaidh Pouti, Kailey Dennis, Tiandra Edwards, Aaliyah Paul. When director Matthew Marshall was asked about the connection, he smiles and says “well I am a PCI grad.” He also puts a lot of credit to a talented pool of people that have dramatic interests that are connected to the arts within PCI.
The film which will continue to film in the coming months is about Naomi Spencer (played by Ostojic), a teenager girl is pushed to her limits by several girls at her school who make her the target of their attacks until Naomi reaches a breaking point. When asked how Marshall relates to the topic of bullying. “Think we all have seen bullying in some form or another regardless of our ages”, says Marshall. He goes on to say that his cast is made up on mostly teenagers or students who have just moved on to post-secondary studies recently and have a very real perspective on the issue from a high school level. “They get the issue and are or have been witness to the issue, some even firsthand” The film’s lead offered these words about what teens need to know. “You’re never alone and that it can be scary to come forward, but it’s always good to talk to someone you can trust. If you don’t have anyone you trust In your life there are many helplines available, surround yourself in positive people and healthy environments” – Katie Ostojic (Naomi). Morgan Flanagan who plays Macey, Naomi’s friend in the film offered these words, “bullying is something that touches home for everyone, and is a problem that should be faced head on. I hope this production can bring to light some of the issues people are experiencing.” Another cast member April Booth who plays the role of Raven which is one of the girls that gets bullied offered this, “I really believe this film shows the extremes of bullying and what can happen if the bullied don’t speak up. In personal experience, I know the fear that can come with exposing bullies, but a lot worse can happen if you remain silent,” says Booth.
A release date for the film is not set yet. However Marshall hopes when the film is done that it can be used by youth groups and possibly schools to talk about the issue and start conversations amongst teens and between parents and teens.