Rankins Springs writer Rhys Parsons is seeking community support to make a short, semi-autobiographical film aimed at shining a light on the mental health crisis in the Riverina.
The 28-year-old is writing and directing Drums, which is inspired by his own troubles as a teenager.
“The film follows a young man who plays the drums and takes his frustrations out on those drums,” he said. “It’s a fictional retelling of an incident that happened to me in high school.
“It’s a personal story, I’m offering myself vulnerably up to the community. My hope is that by doing that, other people will do the same thing.”
Mr Parsons said he had been formally diagnosed with depression four months ago, but it was something that had plagued him for many years.
He recalls being happy before his teen years but was deeply impacted by the 2007 death of Andrew Farrugia, a 17-year-old from his town who was coward-punched from behind in an unprovoked attack on Griffith’s main street.
“We were very close to the Farrugias, Andrew was like the cool older kid in our group,” Mr Parsons said. ”Once he died, my world kind of exploded … it made me anxious and that anxiousness led to anger. Not having a third party to talk to really saw me spiral downwards … I know others who were impacted by his death in a similar way.”
He said this had inspired him to make a film that would both encourage young people to talk about their problems as well as raise funds for those in need. A crowdfunding page has been set up to assist with production costs.
“In Rankins Springs, when someone passes away, you feel like you’ve lost a member of your own family. I’m very tired of feeling like that. I’m tired of seeing people I’m fond of torn apart, broken into pieces, and never being the same again,” he wrote on the GoFundMe page.
“The film I’m making is an insight into what it’s like to be depressed. It’s about how we shouldn’t judge people by how they present. Just because a kid is getting into fights or angry doesn’t mean he’s a bad person. We have to understand what they are going through.”
Some 50 per cent of revenue raised from Drums will go to Boys to the Bush, a not-for-profit organisation that runs camps and programs for young males in regional areas.
Mr Parsons said his ultimate long-term goal was to one day build a cinema in Rankins Springs that could also support a counselling service.
“If we had a counsellor when I was a kid, I probably would have gone to them,” he said. ”Sometimes you just need to talk to somebody who isn’t your parents. I didn’t have a lot of people I thought I could talk to – that trusted third party would have been very helpful for me and a lot of us.
“There also wasn’t much for me to do as a teenager. I celebrated the day I got my P plates because it meant I could go into Griffith by myself … so we want to create a place in Rankins Springs where a kid can go to watch a movie, to hang out and have a sanctuary.”
Donations to support the production of Drums can be made via his GoFundMe page.
Original Article published by Oliver Jacques on Region Riverina.