My rendition of “I’m all for free speech, BUT…” is based upon a teen girl who is bullied into suicide. Everyone she encounters has nothing good to say to her. All she hears are insults and derogatory statements. It becomes so intense she is haunted by the laughs of her antagonists which brings her to the point of suicide. The reason for making this film from this angle was to emphasize how many teens are committing suicide due to bullying and reckless usage of words. It is said that “Sticks and Stones can break your bones, but words can never hurt you.” It is true that sticks and stones can hurt you physically, but words can hurt you mentally and emotionally. They can cause deep wounds and emotional trauma, enough that some people commit suicide because of it.
For the creative process, I gathered a group of my friends and cast them for different roles in this short film. Taylor Myers played Haley, the suicidal teen. Shannon Link played Haley’s mother. Rebecca Hartford, Jamie Elliot, Ariel Gutierrez, and Steven Henry played the taunting school peers. I shot the scenes in various locations around Bedford, Virginia, then edited them using the program “ Pinnacle Studios 12.” Pictures of the offending people were inserted as flashbacks in the film in order to show the audience Haley’s motivation for killing herself. Audio of Haley’s actual reading of the letter was designed to draw the audience in and to help them understand why she felt so desperate. External laughing, produced by the school peers, was weaved strategically throughout the film to enhance a haunting cynical effect to the film.
The film required a certain amount of special effects, such as fake blood and razor blades. Haley had to appear as if she really slit her wrists. The cuts were created by the illusion of a razor blade cutting into her flesh. The blood needed to be smeared onto the letter Haley wrote and onto the razor blade to make it appear realistic. Blood drops were strategically placed on the paper as if Haley had just committed the act of suicide. Combined with the creative process and the theme of the film, my intent was to shine light on a situation that has caused many tragedies due to bullying and negligence of freedom of speech.