New film asks teens to examine their actions and look to themselves as the cause and ultimately the prevention of bullying
An award winning stage play, written by a sixteen year old, dealing with issues of bullying and school violence is being turned into a feature film this year in Oklahoma. Produced by Shaherazad Films, a Los Angeles based production company, the film, Lockdown, examines bullying through the eyes of teens who are blind to the affects their actions have on others. Following them on their journey to discovering the tragic impact they can have on people around them, the film shows how inconsequential moments can stack up against the limits of the human condition.
“I was absolutely blow away by the script when I first read it,” says Tanya Dorri, director of Lockdown and founder of Shaherazad Films, “it might be one of the best screenplays I’ve seen in years. What I loved about it was that it was written by a sixteen year old, by someone who is living through the difficulty students are facing today.”
Lockdown does not shy away from realism. Up to this point, the topic of bullying has been addressed through documentaries and precautionary tales that feel like Public Service Announcements. Producer Ben Campbell, nephew of Greenwood resident JoElla Skaggs, states, “without depicting youth the way they truly are, no relationship can be made between the audience and fictional characters. That is why our film uses controversial language and scenes that serve as an accurate portrayal of high school.” Told as a narrative feature, this hard-hitting film connects viewers with non-stereotypical bullies, dealing with empathy, forgiveness and consequences. The result is a story that leads the audience to an emotion instead of telling it to them.
The movie will be filming in Oklahoma due to the personal history of James Austin Kerr, producer of Lockdown and co-founder of Shaherazad Films. James was born and raised in Oklahoma City, the great-grandson of Oklahoma senator Robert S. Kerr and grandson of philanthropist Lou Kerr, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. “This will be the first film I’m producing and I wanted to shoot it in my home state. Oklahoma and the surrounding states offer us the talent, resources and support we need. We have access to things here we can’t get in LA. I also couldn’t believe the amazing talent that is working out here. We were overwhelmed by the support and good will offered to us and it looks like we will be doing almost all of our hiring locally. We’re excited to get started.”
The film has already picked up the support of the Oklahoma City Education Board, the Oklahoma Film Office, the deadCENTER Film Festival and dozens of anti-bullying organizations across the country who have joined up to help spread the word about Lockdown and get kids talking about bullying. “The response has been amazing, we’re getting more and more calls everyday from people who want to help.” Says, Mr. Campbell.
Shaherazad Films is a Los Angeles based production company. Newly formed, Lockdown will be it’s first feature film. Founding member Tanya Dorri has a background as a screenwriter, working for Running Bull Pictures and as an entrepreneur, creating three successful entertainment based non-profits. Co-Founder, James Austin Kerr, started in Hollywood as an actor on such shows as Bones and Traffic Light, and last year acted in the feature film, Nesting. This year he will be adding producing to his resume.