By Valerie Dittrich
Two RTA students’ upcoming film aims to change the perspective and conversation around mental health, especially for people of colour.
PersPective, a short film by fourth-year media production students Jay Doodnauth and Samuel Adebisi, and former new media student Ryan Prodigo, revolves around the lives of three different men, taking an intersectional lens in dealing with their own mental health. By the end, the three realize they are not so different after all, despite coming from different backgrounds.
“I want PersPective to be more than just words,” said Doodnauth. “I want [the viewer] to feel all the senses of one’s being. I wanted to make a film that is visually and sonically a great representation of that.”
Doodnauth, the director and writer for the film, said the inspiration for the film is drawn from his own and his friends’ experience with mental health, citing that he was tired of being educated about mental health from just reading articles from various websites, and not from something visual that people could actually feel. A few of his friends were dealing with some personal issues and Doodnauth really wanted to help, however he felt that simply just reading up about it wasn’t enough for him to fully understand and relate to his struggling friends.
“Everyone has a story,” he said. “We are not that far off from each other. We can all come together as one, and bridge the communication gap about mental health.”
The short film includes voices from minority communities, taking an intersectional approach to an important topic. Doodnauth said that several of the actors in the film come from an African-Canadian background and recognize how important the conversation around mental health is.
“Everyone has a story…We can all come together as one, and bridge the communication gap about mental health”
“I feel like a lot of of the minority communities, specifically the African-Canadian community, is not talked about a lot concerning mental health,” he said. “There’s other ways than just sitting in a counselling room. We want people to be open in expressing their art. In their own suburban communities, I think they’ll be able to make groups about it surrounding PersPective.”
Samuel Adebisi is producing the film through Toronto Tastemakers, echoes Doodnauth in his goals for the film. “When you associate certain ideas and values, you associate them with a specific archetype and the way the person looks.”
Adedisi said he hopes people can see themselves in the film and relate to it. “I really feel confident we’re going to achieve success in this film. You have to represent other people and it needs to be reflective of the real world.”
Doodnauth thinks that this film is going to create an exponential dialogue about mental health in all different kinds of communities and really showcase what a African-Canadian experiences in the lens of mental health. “To raise awareness as impactful as this can directly change a person’s life. To save someone’s life is to talk openly about it. I want to resonate with people so that it pulls them out of their ditch and makes them fly.”
PersPective comes out Apr. 19 and the team is planning to pitch it to several film festivals including TIFF.