Mental Health is main theme in ScreenSpace film competition

ScreenSpace is a BA (Hons) in Content, Media & Film Production run in partnership with the MetFilm School and the University of West London. It’s new, fresh and exciting.

Before the degree’s launch this September, ScreenSpace held a national competition, inviting young people to ‘Change our Minds’ with a two-minute video; three out of the six young filmmakers who made the top slots, chose to tell a story about mental health.

There was a £10,000 voucher up for grabs, to be used for professional courses at Metfilm School located at Ealing Studios, alongside a top-of-the-range camera set (worth £1000).

Jesse Quinones, a professional filmmaker was one of the competition’s judges, he said: “We were looking out for a number of criteria; we were looking for videos that were well executed in terms of camera work, editing, and overall production design.

“We were looking for films that responded to the brief. But most importantly, we were looking for original voices, voices we have yet to hear in the film and multi-media landscape.”

The competition was advertised on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter, encouraging participants to submit a short video, up to two minutes in length.

Dr Lisette Johnston, Head of School at ScreenSpace said: “We had a huge response to the competition, and there were lots of entries touching on mental health issues.

“I think mental health and wellbeing is a really important issue, particularly for young people, not just those thinking about going to university. So, it didn't surprise me that most of the films that received the highest number of votes touched on these topics, they really resonated with a lot of young people.

We spoke to the winner and some of the runners-up of the ‘Change our Minds’ competition, to see what they had to say.

Winner: Falling by 22 year-old Prasanna Sellathurai

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“Falling is my perspective of male mental health, it’s my story.”

Prasanna is a Physics student and has just started his third year at Durham University – it’s been a roller coaster ride to get this far.

“Falling’ is my perspective of male mental health, it’s my story.”

Presanna’s first year at university was… ‘okay’, but he struggled in the second year and just as he’d signed to take up his third year’s accommodation, Prasanna started to suffer from poor mental health.

The University suggested that Prasanna should take a year out and then retake his second year.

During Prasanna’s year out, he started making films. He had already joined the University’s Film Society. He made lots of films including promos for clubs and theatre productions as well as two short films.

“The year out was a crisis point for me,” said Prasanna. “ I was nowhere near in the right place to sit exams. This film was a way of me saying artfully, the sort of stuff you wouldn’t normally say, or feel comfortable saying.

“In the film there is an illustrated notebook, the words are mine, that’s one of my actual journals I used to help me slow my thought processes down, to help reason myself out of anxiety and depression.

“I have several journals and looking at them now you can see the journey – they are a slice of my brain, but it’s me taking ownership and control.

“When I re-started my second year at university, I decided to stop the filmmaking and concentrate on Physics, then in June this year I decided to make a film, just something small – to see if I could still do it.

“I was quite overwhelmed when I heard that I’d won the ScreenSpace competition, my first thought was for the crew, I was delighted for them. This film would not exist if it weren’t for them, Mehzeb Chowdhury, Valery Gusev and Richard Dyer –three vital and motivating people who worked with me to make ‘Falling’ happen.

“I was happy that we could celebrate together. To be honest, I don’t think I fully accepted I’d won anything until my prize arrived.”

He didn’t tell him mum about his win until she saw the camera and started shouting at him thinking he’d bought kit he couldn’t afford!

Prasanna said: “In the future I want to be a writer / director. I know just saying this won’t make me the next Stephen Speilberg, but it’s the path I’m going to take.”

Runner-up: A Story of Happiness by Tom Hughes, 18

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“I chose the mental health theme because it’s such a widespread problem amongst young people.”

Tom, 18, said: “The video, a Story of Happiness is quite personal, it’s about mental health. The brief of the competition was ‘Change our Minds’, so, for this film I thought about someone who was unhappy, a man who was doing the same thing every day of their life until one day, he caught himself in the mirror, and he looked at himself properly and decided to make changes.”

“I decided to enter the competition because I wanted to let people see the film and to get professional feedback; the only way to connect with people is to share what you’re doing.

“I chose the mental health theme because it’s such a widespread problem amongst young people - it’s an issue that’s increasing but we don’t talk about it enough.”

“I’ve just finished studying both Production and Digital Interactive Media and Games Design at Cirencester College, and now I’m starting off as a freelance filmmaker. I’m currently working on a few projects including a music video for a friend.”

“I was ecstatic when I heard that I was a runner-up, I had no idea the viewers would connect with the film in the way that they have.”

As part of Tom’s prize he won £4000 worth of vouchers to be used with MetFim School based at Ealing Studios.

Tom said: “I’m signing up for a professional course on cinematography, I want to improve my shots and learn how to get more emotion into my work. Longer term I want work on large-scale productions and maybe direct.”

Runner up: Wendy’s World by 18 year-old Nanna Wuyep

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“Making and posting these videos is a creative release.”

“For me, doing so well in this competition has encouraged me to keep going with my videos. I wasn’t sure that I was going to, you know. I didn’t know if they were any good.

“I saw the ScreenSpace competition details on Instagram, and I thought; why not? I could just see what experts think – I really didn’t think I was going to get anywhere.

“When I heard I was a runner-up, it felt good, I really didn’t expect it, gave me such encouragement.”

Nanna lives in St Helen’s and is a student at Carmel College, she’s studying BTEC Applied Science and A-Level Maths.

Nanna said: “After college I hope to go to uni to study Biomedical Science and eventually work in the biomedical field. I love science, but I’m also very creative and making and posting these videos is a creative release.”

Runner-up: Spain, La Rioja by 22 year-old Chante Frazer

Chante is an actor, content creator and marketer who had just returned from teaching English in Spain, when she saw information about the ScreenSpace competition.

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“… I want to focus on acting and content creation, the two disciplines work hand in hand.”

She explained: “I had just returned from teaching English in La Rioja, Spain when I saw information about the ScreenSpace competition.

“I had such a wonderful experience in Spain that I wanted to share, and inspire others to travel – the timing of the competition and my recent experience couldn’t have been better, and I thought that this was a great opportunity to get my work ‘out there.’

“I was really pleased to have done so well in this competition, the feedback from the judges was really good; I wasn’t expecting to win. I was especially pleased to have won the voucher for MetFilm School because I have just graduated from Brunel University, and I’m really looking forward to my next venture.

“In the future I want to focus on acting and content creation, the two disciplines work hand in hand.”

Runner-up: Fighting for Change by 26 year-old Sherice Griffiths

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“I learnt about the struggles she has had to overcome and we ended up discussing mental health a lot in the final interview.”

Sherice Griffiths graduated from Westminster University where she studied Film and TV production. Since then, Sherice has been working freelance in the film and television industry as a Film Director and 1st Assistant Director.

She said: “I decided to enter the Screenspace competition because I had just finished putting together a short documentary when I saw the link. I thought about the theme, 'Change our minds' and realised actually what I had made fit the brief really well. I also thought it would be a great way to reach a wider audience with the film.

“My film, ‘Fighting for Change’, is a very emotive piece about a professional MMA fighter who has had to overcome some personal challenges in her life outside of the cage.

“I learnt about the struggles she has had to overcome and we ended up discussing mental health a lot in the final interview.”

Dr Johnston added: “We had some remarkable entries and I’d like to tell all of those young people who entered to keep trying.

“The brilliant thing about YouTube and using social media as a platform is that you get to engage directly with the audience while also getting real time feedback.

“Smartphones and editing software are accessible to most of us these days, particularly with the amount of free apps available, so you can always go and try out new things.”

For more information about ScreenSpace visit https://screenspace.ac.uk

Careers, Health, UniversityWeb editor