Making certain decisions when it comes to mental health can be a daunting task, especially for youth.
A Penticton family is looking to provide perspective and education through an interactive narrative, with shooting dates in Penticton later in April and an casting call for those interested in helping out.
Nikos Theodosakis created the project with his wife Linda and two daughters Matia and Sophia. Linda and Matia wrote the screenplay while Sophia plays the lead character Joe. This isn’t the first project of its kind for the Penticton family.
They created a similar project a few years ago entitled Mike and Vicki which also brought youth an interactive take on drug and alcohol awareness in collaboration with the local RCMP. In a similar fashion, the family is creating The Lantern.
“(Mike and Vicki) worked out quite well. It’s still being used in the school district. It allows the students to see choices by slowing down the choice process,” Theodosakis said. “It’s all non-judgmental, there’s no score or yes-or-no answers, good or bad choices, there’s simply a lot of different choices and outcomes.”
Instead of a linear video, the family took on a more interactive spin with a comic-book aesthetic.
The family enjoyed the process and have spent the last month shooting in Vancouver for The Lantern, as well as preparing to shoot at the end of April in Penticton. The higher rates of anxiety and depression among youth, especially those making the transition from high school to post-secondary schooling, interested Theodoskais as a topic which would work well with the interactive decision making format.
“I know through our own experience with friends and family that these are prevalent issues. So we wanted to see if we could tackle that,” Theodosakis said.
The Lantern follows Josephine (Joe) after graduating from high school and facing a life full of promise. Three months into her first term at art school things start to go wrong. In a competitive environment, she develops the debilitating symptoms of depression and anxiety.
“She begins this journey to go through doctors, psychiatrists and counselors. All of these choices that come up for her are possibly choices for the audience to make. So when she is given advice to take some medication from a doctor, she still has the choice to take the medication or not take the medication,” Theodosakis said. “The audience go through that journey with her. The idea is by going through the story online and following these characters, audiences would have an opportunity to almost simulate what it would be like to ask for help in today’s mental health landscape.”
He hopes the project will inspire youth to seek help and have some clarity on how they can take steps to help out with their health in real life.
The Lantern is not a traditional film project, with Theodosakis and his family inventing some new processes to bring the story to life. There are still actors, locations, writing and other familiar filmmaking techniques, but this way youth are more involved in the story.
“You can get a brochure of information, or you could provide an immersive narrative. That’s what we’re trying to do is provide an immersive narrative experience that young people can relate to and engage with and hopefully stimulate them to ask questions about their own path,” Theodosakis said.
There are a range of roles and ages for the shooting dates in Penticton. Roles of counsellors, teachers and doctors need to be filled. No experience in acting is necessary.
“The way we shoot it is not like traditional video where there’s video and audio recorded by actors,” Theodosakis said.
Instead, still photos are put together to give the feel of a graphic novel and the roles are non-speaking.
Shooting will take place for eight days in late April, from April 19 to 30. The age range is 20 to 30 years old for a wide range of roles. Those interested can email a photo and introduction to firstname.lastname@example.org. Photos and availability must be sent by April 18. The Lantern is a paid, non-union production. For more information visit www.thelanternresource.com.