The focus of UNICEF Jamaica’s Keep Children Safe campaign this week has been protecting children from the dangers lurking in the online world. On Monday, we explored a number of these dangers, including cyberbullying, cyberstalking, pornography and sexual predators, and also shared some safety tips for parents and guardians.
The campaign has been using a series of short films to help drive home its messages about the importance of keeping children safe in their communities, protecting them from sexual violence and combating bullying in schools. This week’s film – Unspoken, takes on the troubling issues of online sexual predators and cyberbullying. Writer/director Kurt Wright was brought on board by FarEye Films, the production house behind all the shorts used in the Keep Children Safe campaign.
“UNICEF Jamaica provided us with the case study of a real incident, which we then based our story on. The only limitation that we were given was that the story had to be told in four minutes or less. One of the main points that I wanted to get across with the film is the fact that abuse can come in many forms and the ‘bad guy’ doesn’t always come across that way at first,” said Wright.
“I needed the actors to understand that our antagonist would first seek to make his victim feel as comfortable as he could in order to get what he wanted from her, and only show his true colours when or if that didn’t work out. It had to be more subtle than him simply grabbing and forcing himself on her,” he added.
In the film, the predator ‘Alex’ chats up the unsuspecting ‘Stacy’ on a social media site, luring her into a trap under the premise of a job interview. Things take an unfortunate turn when he tells her she should consider modelling, and ends up taking her photos – including some risque shots. The situation only deteriorates for Stacy from there.
“The most important aspect of creating the film, to me, was making sure that my two lead actors Shantol Jackson and Carl Samuels were comfortable with each other, as well as their roles. We met before the shoot and I explained to them exactly what I was looking for in terms of character performances and they both delivered like true professionals,” he said. “Despite the subject matter being of a very serious nature, I’d like to think that we all enjoyed the creative process and I’m very happy with the end result. FarEye Films did a great job bringing the production together, and our editor Neil Colley did an awesome job translating my vision into a meaningful piece of work.”
Wright also had some words of advice for parents and guardians, who are tasked with protecting their children from danger in a world that many of them are not even particularly knowledgeable about: “I think that a lot of adults don’t realize how far technology has advanced and how easy it has become for someone to get access to you, your personal information and your family. Children will always object if they feel as if their parents are breathing down their necks, but at the end of the day it is just as important to know who your children are spending time with online as it is outside in the so-called ‘real world.’ There are wonderful people out there in the world, but some very sick individuals as well, and the internet has become just one more point from which children can be attacked or exploited. Parents needs to be aware of where these potential dangers can come from.”