The short film Struggles Within has been released. The film is a 14 minute telling of a story through almost all music and dance about a girl struggling with depression and contemplating suicide.  The film is a timely story that speaks to what many people in society are struggling with. It is done in a way that words do not fill the story but images and music so the viewer can “feel” the story being told on screen. It also can be related to if the person watching has had experience in their lives either personally or through a member of their family with the issue of depression or mental illness.

 

Struggles Within is written and directed by Corrinne Wood a Chatham native. When asked about the film, Wood had this to say “mental illness is something really near and dear to my heart, and this film is designed to show an audience who may not be struggling with a mental illness what kind of daily struggles really goes on inside the mind of someone struggling with depression.” The film is an emotional look at one young women’s struggle with depression, her struggles with her inner demons and her choice as to whether she wants to continue to live.

 

The film was a collaboration between Chatham based IME Films and Port Stanley based m & s Marshall Productions.  Filming of the project became a story onto its self of life imitating the art being created.  “The film became about this group of people who had an understanding of depression and mental illness through life experience or association with people who had been through it. Wanting to make a film about the issue trying to explain it to the world and the outside world looking at the issue of depression and this film making group and trying to understand what they were creating” says Matthew Marshall the co-owner of m & s Marshall Productions and a Co-Producer of the project as well as the film’s production team lead.

 

The film was originally shot in St Thomas and area in the August and September of 2016. Editing of the film followed over the winter of 2017 and a limited test audience showing was done in May of 2017. The results of the showing was not good. People didn’t get the film. “The people watching didn’t relate the dancing and the story line to depression”, says Marshall. This was devastating to the entire production team. It was a question of what to do now.

 

The facts are that depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. More than 300 million people are living with depression, an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015 alone.  Yet it is also one of the most stigmatized condition, and misconceptions are very common.

 

Depression affects people of all ages, from all walks of life, in all countries. It causes mental anguish and impacts on people’s ability to carry out even the simplest everyday tasks, with sometimes devastating consequences for relationships with family and friends and the ability to earn a living.  In addition, people with depression normally have several of the following symptoms: a loss of energy; a change in appetite; sleeping more or less; anxiety; reduced concentration; indecisiveness; restlessness; feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or hopelessness; and thoughts of self-harm or suicide. At worst, depression can lead to suicide, now the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year olds. With those facts how could the production team turn the production around to make people see what it was all about.  Marshall felt that the answer was in the fact that “from the inside looking out, it is hard to explain. From the outside looking in it’s hard to understand” Marshall said.  Marshall has always been a visual person he though with this idea maybe dramatic images would help.  But getting the original cast back to enhance the project was not easy as they all had busy schedules.

 

Time passed Marshall and Wood had ideas in the back of their minds. But how to make it happened and to ensure that it would work to solve the problems without undoing what had been already done or re-filming the entire project.

 

As that time passed Marshall got involved with creation of a new group of people in iFilmGroup. This organization in which Marshall was a co-founder of with Don Hickey, also opened the door to some new connections with individuals who were working in the health industry that were associated with iFilmGroup and one particular individual Reza Khazaee offered some insight into some ideas.

 

In December 2017 Marshall along with iFilmGroup set to work with some old and new faces of the project as well as a few new cast members to add a more dramatic twist to the film through dramatic images that showed the emotion and struggle of depression. IFilmGroup Acting coach Helena Rose was brought in to work with a number of the actors to ensure the proper tone and mood was achieved from the performances to add the right touch of dramatic impact to what was being filmed.  A second filming date was set for more new footage to be filmed and a secondary production team that was co-ordinated through iFilmGroup was brought in to work on the production.  With the various new images Marshall had, he combine it with the original dance footage to create the currant film. Which was released online at the end of July.

 

The condition of depression and those suffering from depressions surrounds and affects the m & s Marshall and IME Film teams. Also a number of iFilmGroup members struggle with anxiety, depression and mental illness. “The issue hits close to home for many of us” says Hickey.  “Friends, Family and those around many of us deal with depression every day” says Marshall. It is why Marshall, Hickey, m & s Marshall Productions and the iFilmGroup teamed up with IME films to undertake making this film.  The film’s lead dancer who plays the role of “The Girl”, Katie Ostojic feels dancing in the film was a wonderful opportunity to do what she loves the most, to dance. “Being part of this film is an opportunity to inspire others, especially youth” says Ostojic when talking about her role in the film.  She goes on to say, “The story about overcoming demons and finding hope Is one I know well, and It’s an honour for me to tell this story through the art dance. Hope changes everything”.

 

The original cast of dancers for the film also featured Camryne Quinn who plays Depression. The principle dancing cast is rounded out by another St Thomas native in Morgan Flanagan who plays the role of Hope.  The rest of the dancers are from St. Thomas, London and Chatham Area who played “Inner Demons” including: Julia Hunter Olivia Torrance, Talitha Wood, Elizabeth White, Bianca Sinclair, Abby Johnston, Amy Krosnicki, Nia Wood, Ashley Wood.

 

From the dramatic side the cast includes iFilmGroup member Maysee McLean as “the Voice” and the “Masked Girl”, as well from the drama side includes other IFilmGroup member Chassidy Fleming as the “Dramatic Girl”. The rest of the cast includes some more inner demons in Mackenzie Hyatt and Carly Schelken from a more acting dramatic perspective.

 

As for the plans of the film now that it has been released?  The film will be up online for a bit and then will be entered into film festivals for about a year. Following that the film’s director Corrinne Wood would like to give it to various community organizations for them to have and use in sharing the story of what it is like to struggle with depression and with inner demons.

 

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