A NEW film competition for young people which invites them to share the biggest mental health challenges they have faced during their lives has been launched.

Anglian Community Trust has launched the project for young people who live anywhere in north east Essex. 

They have the opportunity to win a £300 prize for the best short film, which will be awarded at a special showcase event held at the Colchester Arts Centre on 28 November.

Michael Pollington, a trustee for ACT, said he hopes the competition will encourage young people to open up about their mental health problems in ways they have never been able to do before.

He said: “This competition is open to all young people between the ages of 11 and 21. We want to hear their stories from the heart, so people can learn about how to help them more. They are invited to submit a 2–3-minute film about their own personal experiences.

“Many young people are currently going through difficult times at the moment, especially since the pandemic.

"Some of them have already been helped through the Underdog Crew, which is a local film studio we funded recently, to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds break into the movie industry. This includes young carers and young people suffering from autism and ADHD.

“But we want to hear more from people like that, with stories and opinions that are going unheard. Some might also want to talk about the bullying they have experienced; what’s it like being part of the LGBTQ+ community; or how they have gone through different stages of depression. All subjects are welcome.

“We decided to offer a big prize of £300 to encourage people to come forward with their ideas.”

All entrants can make the film by themselves, but if they need help, it’s O.K. for them to seek support from the Underdog Crew and its filmmaking team.

The showcase event at the Colchester Arts Centre on November 28 will not only feature five of the top films from the competition, including the winner, but it will also include the Premiere of The Slip, which is a new teen TV series.

This teen series is inspired by Byker Grove and is about the life of a young carer, who strives to achieve her dream, despite all the mental health challenges she faces.

On the same night, the Essex DocFest festival will take place, which will feature films from around the world, produced by a diverse range of filmmakers from underrepresented backgrounds. This includes disabled filmmakers, female filmmakers and people from ethnic minorities.

Colchester filmmaker, Elena Distaru, who set-up the festival a few years ago said: “We hope the young people who enter our competition will be inspired by the films they see at the Essex DocFest, to help them realise what they could aspire to achieve as filmmakers in the future.

“The films have been made on a shoestring budget by people who really care about the topics they cover. So anyone who has the passion and interest can make an amazing film. Nobody really needs to wait for a scholarship or funding – they can start making films straight away, in their own time.”

The entries from the young person’s film competition will also be shared with local charities, councils, funders and statutory bodies, so they can learn more about the lived experiences of young people. It is hoped these views will help the commissioners to design future services that will target their issues.

This competition also brings together a large collaboration of local filmmaking bodies, with judges from the Colchester Arts Centre, The Mercury Theatre, Signals Media, the University of Essex, the Colchester Institute and the Colchester Independent Short Film Festival, all helping to choose the winner.

To find out more about the competition; how to enter; how to reserve a ticket for the Colchester Arts Centre event on 28 November; and more about ACT, please visit here: https://angliancommunitytrust.org/filmcompetition