Despite a growing awareness of the importance of mental health, the stigma surrounding it prevails – especially when it comes to the idea of seeking professional help. Fighting this social shame is what the team from Kent Ridge Secondary School’s Media Club hopes to achieve with its short film I Am Different, which depicts how the protagonist, Alex, manages to conquer her fear of being seen as different from her peers and reaches out for the help she needs.
Said team member Adam Jamal Clark, 14: “With the help and support of her friend, Alex is able to overcome these social obstacles, learn how to embrace her differences and everyone else’s, and speak up about her situation.”
Lim Hong Yi, 14, said the inspiration for choosing a video format came from popular platforms TikTok and YouTube. “We wanted to connect with youth who might be ‘addicted’ to these platforms, and shed light on topics such as depression and anxiety, which are more common among youth today.” The five-member team, including teammate Pham Thuy Linh, 14, also drew on the collective experiences of their schoolmates, who shared stories of their own struggles with examination stress, parental expectations and the pressure to do well.
Said Ashley Png, 15: “Teenagers today have more expectations thrust upon them, from friends, parents, even relatives. Many are scared to seek help because they’re afraid of how people will view them if they reveal that they struggle with anxiety. We chose to tackle this subject so that teens who are struggling can relate to our video.”
In its early days, the filming process was chaotic as the team had to sort out everything from equipment, locations, manpower and roles. Thankfully, they turned out to be fast learners, and quickly picked up the technical and project management skills needed to get things done.
Adam shared: “It was our first time managing such a big production with 21 people. One thing that we took away from this experience was to plan and organise things beforehand. Hong Yi recalled how having good communication skills took on added importance, when they could not even finish filming a single scene on the first day of production as he had difficulty explaining the scene he envisioned to the directors. “Everyone didn’t know what they were supposed to do. I was disappointed with myself, but I’m quite happy that we all bucked up and got the work done eventually.”
Teammate Kang Xin Ci, 15, agreed that the team became more tough and resilient as the days of filming wore on. “Because of tight time constraints, if you slack off, the production will be delayed.” Running a tight ship under such coordinated efforts led to a well-deserved win at the Infocomm Media Club Youth Awards, where the project picked up a Distinction award in the Media category.
With a successful short film under its belt, the team is excited about the potential of using online video platforms to address issues ranging from racism and xenophobia to body shaming and global warming. “We can even put these videos in the school syllabus for students in the future,” suggested Ashley. “Videos can make a more powerful impression than content in textbooks as they are more engaging and impactful.”