portraying mental health

I feel like through the process of the film making, the seriousness of the subject matter got lost within although it’s the main focus in our film opening.

I don’t quite think we have explained enough to make sense of what our psychological thriller is actually trying to get at, our film has made stylish shots and careful composition but where does mental health actually fit into this.

Mental health has always been thought of as a personal individual state, something that should be kept private and behind closed doors, something that the individual should be ashamed for, something that individual brought upon themselves. Our film is meant to showcase the understanding of Mental health that mental health can not be placed in a category or a place it does not come neatly wrapped in a box with a name tag specifying who it is for, Mental health is something we all have whether it’s a positive or negative.

I previously talked about in ‘locations’ about the man-made structures society has tried to place onto the mentally unwell, how we should all be an aesthetic of lines and symmetry, with nothing out-of-place, an array of perfection. Our film fights against this idea holding symbolism to tear down this ideals.

Humanity is not an aesthetic.



Character Inspiration// update

there are 4 main characters in our  film opening, Schizophrenia, Anorexia, D.I.D and Mark, originally all these characters had names but we wanted to dehumanise the characters as they don’t exist in reality only through someone’s mind we decided to name them on what the illness is with the exception of Mark as he is the ‘Normal’ character.

all the characters in our production where black not only to unify them together but as symbolic statement of death and decay, although there is not a character from a movie that specifically inspired this we took inspiration from funeral wear, that black was seen as a time of grief or sadness, which all these characters represent.

ae43085e0b001c34db16499324a0f97dalthough we did take inspiration from the black swan with the symbolic change of her white dress to her black dress, from light to dark. however our film opening skips the first part as we didn’t want to inflict the change from the black swan onto our characters.











false opening?

yeah, we are restarting and scratching everything we’ve done…

Nah I tricked you, I know I had you falling for it. Anyway we decided that a false opening could give our film opening a brilliant plot twist.( I’m going to pretend that you don’t know what a false opening is) A false opening is where we, well its where, erm…

Okay I have no idea how to describe it so you are just going to have to role with me, basically its where you believe you are viewing the real film opening until the camera pans out to show what’s really happening (its not that but I have no idea how to describe it ).


So, for our false film opening we are going to have a sequence of shots with poetry over like previous however at the end on the last shot would turn into a photograph, the camera would then pan out to reveal a wall covered with missing person files and research into mental health, drawings of the mental health the two girls ‘Anorexia’ and ‘Schizophrenia’ have. Since the plot of the film is about a 16 year old girl who takes on the personality’s of other people disorders, it makes sense that she has to get these people from somewhere, she believes that she is the missing people in the photographs however the person she is fixated on is ‘Mark’ a man who went missing, this personality she has adopted becomes the dominant personality, and the other two personalitys ‘Anorexia’ and ‘Schizophrenia’  become elements within Brittany the 16 year old however ‘Mark’ perceives these people as children he has kidnapped and is keeping trapped due to him wanting to be the only personality.

Right I get that makes no sense but honestly what psychological thriller does?

oh I shall also add in a few little examples of what a false opening looks like so you get the understand better than my description ( describing was never my strong suit)

also I shall include a picture of what the wall will look like…

Narration// speech

The plan is for Brittany and I to separate the screenplay writing in half so she writes the dialogue and I write the description, not for any particular reason but just to make it fair and even for the both of us; however me being me wanted to write a tiny bit of the dialogue for the part I played which is Anorexia nervosa.

the day we did this on I lacked in inspiration so I set out to go find some beautiful speeches or poems to try and place a few different ideas into my head. one of the first poems I found was this…


the start of the poem to me really sums up anorexia “empty stomach, busy mind” during my research I found out that most people describe anorexia as a person or a voice someone or something speaking dark thoughts into there ears. but this line strips it back and states anorexia very clearly. The other line that is captivating to me is “tiny bites to hide her wrongs” again during the research phase people who have suffered or are suffering with anorexia believe that eating is incorrect and wrong but from another perspective the family or friends see her not eating as wrong so perhaps its suggest that by eating small amounts she is doing herself wrong but as also hiding it to the people surrounding her.

The next poem that I found that inspired me to write the dialogue was on Tumblr (typical I know)


The disjointed poem at first glance is confusing and seems very misplaced until you read it backwards and you realise the true meaning of the poem. although I like that the poem goes backwards I feel the first read of the poem is slightly ruined but nevertheless still a brilliant poem. The reason I found this poem gave me inspiration was that in the first read there was no hope and just a downwards spiral however it tells me that the spiral can be reversed and that hope can be found in the same place you lost it. a beautiful poem.

And the third and final poem that inspired me was…


this poem is actually my favourite out of all three, just because it brings in some many different features and elements. for example the fairy-tale of snow white, that starving yourself is beautiful and self harm gives a reason of existence, all of them are such challenging subjects that I feel this poem addresses (well the fairy-tale one isn’t that challenging but could be as were brought up with the ideas placed firmly in our heads of what beauty looks like ). there we have it the poems that inspired me to write my own poem.

Bones of a wing

She use to cut her soul

Just by looking in the mirror

All she saw was herself

Who she was

And not what she wanted to be

She thought her collar bones were the harness to her wings

And that wings were a beautiful fairy-tale that grew from her shoulder blades on her back

maybe the wings would carry her away

Not up, she was never going up

She only wanted to go down

She was told she was beautiful, classy and defined

She felt her soul was a mess

And it was for this moment in time

But as I said she use to cut her soul

And now she only tears her skin apart

to give you an idea about the pace and the volumes within the poem I have done a spoken poetry experiment, kind of crap but oh well

also we will have to shorten the poem to fit it all within 2 minutes, its gonna be a challenge.

Lighting// Mise-en-scene

lighting is important in films as it can set the mood, tone and style. As an example Low key lighting is used for mystery and suspense, whereas when using bright lights it could suggest a clinical or happy setting.

Within our opening sequence we wanted to have each mental illness be expressed by the mise-en-scene so one of the most significant things within mise-en-scene is lighting. the lighting we looked at was using different light sources for different angles:

  • below – only illuminated the bottom half of the face
  • above – only illuminated the top half of the face
  • to the left/right – creates a shadow on one side of the face
  • centre puts a strong focus on the centre of the face

to express these ideas we made a short video using different lighting techniques, to try to express our ideas…

these are the different types of illness we are looking into and what types of lighting we would like to have for them.

  • Depression

Depression of often spoken about as being lonely illness, so when I began researching about the illness I started to search what types of lighting were commonly used within photographers such as Noizeg; she uses extreme low-key lighting creating an impressionable contrast between light and dark.


  • Obsessive compulsive disorder

when researching about this illness I found out that the most common symptoms was repetition, being focused. To visually represent this through lighting I was thinking harsh bright light


  • Anorexia nervosa

Anorexia is largely influenced by the media, so to bring this idea into our opening sequence  we decided on runway lighting to illuminate the pressure felt to look the same way models do.



  • Schizophrenia

still low-key lighting, centred more onto the face however still casting slight shadows onto parts of the face to create a real contrast  between light and dark.



  • Multiple personality disorder

For this section we wanted to create a strong character at the start to resemble this the lighting should be strong on half section of her face. which would change as the scene went on.



Research // Mental illnesses

a key part to the new opening sequence is about mental illnesses and how the affect and define the brain, as I want this to be accurate and a correct representation I’ve done some research into some specific mental illnesses . Different characters will displays these mental illnesses through the opening sequence with the editing matching their illness

Depression ( which leads to suicide in severe cases)

Psychological symptoms

The psychological symptoms of depression include:

  • continuous low mood or sadness
  • feeling hopeless and helpless
  • having low self-esteem
  • feeling tearful
  • feeling guilt-ridden
  • feeling irritable and intolerant of others
  • having no motivation or interest in things
  • finding it difficult to make decisions
  • not getting any enjoyment out of life
  • feeling anxious or worried
  • having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself


Multiple personality disorder

Signs and symptoms of dissociative disorders include:

  • Memory loss (amnesia) of certain time periods, events and people
  • Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts and attempts
  • A sense of being detached from yourself
  • A perception of the people and things around you as distorted and unreal
  • A blurred sense of identity
  • Significant stress or problems in your relationships, work or other important areas of your life


Anorexia nervosa

Emotional and behavioural symptoms

Behavioural symptoms of anorexia may include attempts to lose weight by either:

  • Severely restricting food intake through dieting or fasting and may include excessive exercise
  • Bingeing and self-induced vomiting to get rid of the food and may include use of laxatives, enemas, diet aids or herbal products

Other emotional and behavioural signs and symptoms related to anorexia may include:

  • Preoccupation with food
  • Refusal to eat
  • Denial of hunger
  • Fear of gaining weight
  • Lying about how much food has been eaten
  • Flat mood (lack of emotion)
  • Social withdrawal
  • Irritability
  • Reduced interest in sex
  • Depressed mood
  • Thoughts of suicide



Examples of Physical Symptoms—-

–A blank, vacant facial expression. An inability to smile or express emotion through the face is so characteristic of the disease that it was given the name of affective flattening or a blunt affect.
–Overly acute senses- lights are too bright, sounds are too loud.
–Staring, while in deep thought, with infrequent blinking.
–Clumsy, inexact motor skills
–Sleep disturbances- insomnia or excessive sleeping
–Involuntary movements of the tongue or mouth (facial dyskinesia’s). Grimacing at the corners of the mouth with the facial      muscles, or odd movements with the tongue.
–Parkinsonian type symptoms- rigidity, tremor, jerking arm movements, or involuntary movements of the limbs
–An awkward gait (how you walk)
–Eye movements- difficulty focusing on slow moving objects
–Unusual gestures or postures
–Movement is speeded up- i.e. constant pacing
–Movement is slowed down- staying in bed (in extreme cases, catatonia)


Obsessive compulsive disorder

Compulsive behaviour

Compulsions arise as a way of trying to reduce or prevent anxiety caused by the obsessive thought, although in reality this behaviour is either excessive or not realistically connected.

For example, a person who fears contamination with germs may wash their hands repeatedly, or someone with a fear of harming their family may have the urge to repeat an action multiple times to “neutralise” the thought.

Most people with OCD realise that such compulsive behaviour is irrational and makes no logical sense, but they can’t stop acting on it and feel they need to do it “just in case”.

Common types of compulsive behaviour in people with OCD include:

  • cleaning and hand washing
  • checking – such as checking doors are locked or that the gas is off
  • counting
  • ordering and arranging
  • hoarding
  • asking for reassurance
  • repeating words in their head
  • thinking “neutralising” thoughts to counter the obsessive thoughts
  • avoiding places and situations that could trigger obsessive thoughts

Not all compulsive behaviours will be obvious to other people.


all messages and ideas are from trust worthy sources such as the NHs or psychologists reports



Graphic Match// inspiration

A graphic match is where the shape or outline of an object is perfectly in line with the next shot. Although this is hard to do it is possible but needs detailed planning to get the right composition.

a particular graphic match that intrigued me was from the film “pyscho” where the women starts having a shower whilst also being brutally killed, anyway at the end of the scene we see the plug hole with water spiralling down creating a circle outline, which fades to an extreme close up of the women’s eye staring straight into the camera with no movement. the great thing about graphic matches are that they show an easy transition between one scene and another but also can be used for meaning and symbolism.

An example of when a film has used graphic matches for meaning and symbolism is on “girl, Interrupted” I did slightly talk about this but I wanted to go into more depth about why they had perhaps chosen this specific editing technique, the graphic match in the film that I think is the most interesting is when the nurse does her nightly checks but instead of the nurse coming in we have the mother enter the scene and the surrounding change to Susanne’s bedroom with the door frame staying in the same position.  Although this was mostly likely done for confusion there could be other possible meanings behind it for example the way the hospital was beginning to effect the young girls brain that certain shapes or objects would bring back a past memory other editing techniques could of been used to show this but the graphic match means that as a viewer we don’t clock onto what is happening and what surroundings have changed in the exact same way Susanne would see; as the graphic match is from a P.O.V shot.

In my film opening I would also like to include a graphic match, although I’m not sure where to place the graphic match or what it would be of I have a few ideas… for starters I would quite like to do a similar thing to “pyscho” with the plug hole and the eye as some of the key shots in the film would be of Eleanor drowning in the bath which makes sense as to why there would be a plug hole cross fading into an eye but also this could be a good idea as it shows the link between different people that all of the characters are linked through there mental health.

Another possible idea for a graphic match could be the outline of the characters face, where one face shape transitions into another face, although this would not be a perfect graphic match it could still work as an editing technique or to show a link between the two people.

To further develop on what I want to be looking at I decided I would create a short video with the iris from eyes as a graphic match so I could give a visual representation of what I am thinking