Young filmmakers focus on teen mental illness

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Kate Doherty, Daniel Sinclair and Becca Hurd, in their Freeport High School days. The three are producing "Invisible Things," a film on mental illness in teen-agers.

Three recent Freeport High School graduates are parlaying high school experiences and things they’re learning in college into a film on mental illness in teenagers, which they hope to have ready for Maine film festivals next year.

Daniel Sinclair, who just completed his sophomore year studying video production at the New England School of Communications at Husson College, is working with old friends Becca Hurd and Kate Doherty on the film, called  “Invisible Things.” They are raising money on GoFundMe to meet production costs, and will film from June 22-July 8 at Freeport and other locations in southern Maine. Their goal is to raise $3,000 and the link is www.gofundme.com/invisiblethings.

Sinclair said that “Invisible Things” is a work of fiction based on a one-act play Hurd wrote.

“It’s about mental illness in teens. We follow our protagonist, Kate, through her journey,” he said. “We also get a glimpse into her family life and how everybody is dealing with their own problems.”

Emily Belanger, an actress from Bath, plays Kate.

The final running time for the film will be close to an hour and 15 minutes, Sinclair said. Those involved hope it will be ready for festivals by next summer.

Following production, they will commence editing.

“It’s going to be a very involved process because we’re going to have many, many days’ worth of footage,” Sinclair said. “The end goal is to take it to festivals like the Maine International Film Festival in Waterville and other film festivals. The purpose of doing this is really to get the message out about mental illness in teens.”

Hurd, who will be a senior next fall at St. Anselm’s College in Vermont, wrote and produced” Invisible Things” to a good reception there. She is the screenwriter, producer and director.

Sinclair graduated from Freeport High in 2014, as a junior. He is doing production and co-directing the film.

Doherty, a 2015 Freeport High grad studying technical production at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, is lending valuable tech expertise to the production.

Doherty said that she, Sinclair and Hurd all gained important knowledge of and enthusiasm for theater at Freeport High from Tim Ryan, who directs the school’s successful one-act play program.

“We all went through the one-act play program all four years in high school and we became close and stayed close,” Doherty said. “This would not be happening if it were not for the one-act play program.”

Hurd’s one-act version of “Invisible Things” went onstage in February 2015.

“I was concerned about doing the show due to the sensitive nature of the topic, but I knew that’s exactly why it had to be done,” Hurd said. “I knew there would be people in the audience who would judge it, assume things about me for writing it, or blow it off completely. But in my mind, if one person who saw it opened their mind or felt that they weren’t alone, that would make the whole thing worth it.”

Hurd said she was “completely blown away by most people’s reactions.” Strangers contacted her, asking what had inspired her, and praised her for bringing mental illness out of the shadows, she said.

“In centering this around teens,” she said, “the message is not only to the teens, and letting them know they aren’t alone, but also to families who, completely unknowingly, don’t support their children in the ways they should, in ways that could completely prevent the mental illness from getting out of control.”

“Invisible Things” delves into a perceived lack of attention teen mental illness gets from society.

“It’s still an uncomfortable subject for a lot of people to talk about, in a way that other diseases and disorders are not,” Hurd said. “I know a lot of people on my college campus alone have struggled but their issues are so often slid under the rug, and treated as something to be ashamed of.”

Hurd referred to statistics that put suicide as the 10th-leading cause of death in the United States overall – even higher in the late teens-early 20s age group.

Sinclair expressed thanks to Freeport resident Melanie Sachs for allowing the crew to shoot a scene in her home, and to Freeport businessman John Libby, who made Houses and Barns by John Libby available.

Kate Doherty, Daniel Sinclair and Becca Hurd, in their Freeport High School days. The three are producing “Invisible Things,” a film on mental illness in teen-agers.

A logo for “Invisible Things,” a film on teen mental illness, is produced by Freeport High School graduates Daniel Sinclair, Becca Hurd and Kate Doherty.