I know, I know. It’s a movie about BULLYING. That’s a bit heavier than the usual TN fodder, but this movie is INCREDIBLE.
What’s the film About?
A Narrative film shot in a documentary style, director Amy S. Weber sends a film crew sent into South Brookdale High School to find out what makes this school one of the top in the country. Early into her visit in the school, student Jessica Burns (Lexi Ainsworth) attempts to take her own life. Through a series of interviews with students, Jessica’s one and only friend Brian Slater and listening to the rumor mill, it’s clear to Amy that Jessica was bullied and Avery Keller (Hunter King) was at fault. What follows is an eye-opening story of the plight of many teens in today’s social media obsessed society, and a real look into the struggles of today’s teens.
And when I say real, I mean real. In the middle of screening this movie, I had to look up details to verify what I was watching wasn’t an actual documentary- it felt SO real. I cried- no I wept- over this film. If you have a teenager, know a teenager or love a teenager, watch this film and encourage teenagers you know to watch it, as well.
Learn more from the Director and lead actress
I got a chance to talk with director Amy S. Weber on the phone and conduct an e-mail interview with actress Lexi Ainsworth (who plays bullying victim Jessica Burns) this week. If this doesn’t convince you to see this movie this week, you’re dead inside*:
I asked Amy how she got the idea for the film and she told me it was a decade in the making. Her experience is with making educational films with young people- telling true stories of their experiences. A theme kept emerging over and over again– one of low self-esteem and a fear of being vunerable. She was inspired by the kids on the front line.
In our conversation Amy casually dropped that the ENTIRE FILM was improvised! She did not write a script into the screenplay. I talked to Lexi about this and told her: The movie felt SO real. It was awkward in that way- like I was peeking in on a REAL family dinner and a REAL convo between two best friends. How did you get that unscripted feeling? She said
Living in our characters while we were on set helped tremendously. Also not having a script gave us that advantage.
Oh yeah, that “NOT HAVING A SCRIPT” helped! I asked Amy to elaborate on why she made that (brilliant) decision. She said (paraphrased)
“It was a gut feeling that this film had to be unique. iI’s not the first time this story has been told. It was more important to me that this came across as authentic as possible. I needed to get into the world of the kids. I didn’t want to feel like it was told from the perspective of an adult teaching a lesson. Authenticity was the main reason to chooes the documentary, unscripted genre. It was the only way the story could be told.
I asked why Amy choose to tell the story of those kids- why those girls. She told me that they seemed perfect from the outside. They looked like they had it together. They were from a school that just received a National award, but underneath it all, someone was slipping through the cracks. They were- they are– every day girls. Lexi added:
It unfortunately is a story that is shared across the world. Especially now more than ever with social media it has become very relevant and a story many of us can relate to. It gives both sides to the story to understand not just the victim but how a bully becomes a bully.
While the story was a beautiful one and (no spoilers here) had a redemptive ending, in a way, I did feel discouraged about bullying in general… not knowing WHAT could be done. I asked Lexi what she thinks her character Jessica should have done (or other kids in her situation) other than make the choice she did:
I think talking to an adult such as a faculty member or her parents would have had the best outcome. I know it can be embarrassing or too painful to talk about but the only way to take action is to address the issue head on.
Amy has an incredible perspective on bullying and doesn’t think how we currently handle bullying (with punishment) is the right solution. She thinks it’s about mentoring and caring for the bullies– often times they are people suffering too. It was incredible to hear her thoughts on the topic and her passion about ridding society of this problem is clear. Amy is an advocate about the Peacekeeper’s Movement which you can learn more about on the film’s website
Please go see this film. You won’t be disappointed.
A Girl Like Her is in Theaters Today
*kidding. Love you