Orange County Student Filmmakers Honored in Statewide Film Competition Focusing on Mental Health – OCDE Newsroom

Dealing with depression can feel like you have dark, powerful thoughts that no one will understand, and sometimes you don’t even have the energy to face them.

Four students from El Dorado High School in the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District have created a 60-second movie in which a teenage girl lies with her eyes closed under a tangled ball of black thread, symbolizing her inner thoughts and feelings of depression. As viewers, we can hear what you’re thinking.

Guide change the dark picture
Eldorado High School students used a black thread to symbolize the dark feelings of a teenage girl dealing with depression.

The narrator in the video says, “She walks with your head down because who would notice if you weren’t there?” “She’s swimming in the sea and never breathing. He’s drowning in waiting and wondering how the pressure got so great. Don’t hold out your hand until it’s too late.”

The short film was created by students Tahlia Bumble, Samantha Marr, Scarlett Martinez and Caleb Lim with the help of their mentor Mark Switzer. Canyon High School student Scott Hayashida also took first place in a different category at the annual Directing Change Awards.

The virtual event took place on May 17th during Mental Health Awareness Month. It is organized by the Directing Change Programme, which aims to be part of the solution in addressing mental health. Since 2012, the program has encouraged youth participation by producing 60-second films or art projects on suicide prevention, mental health, and other critical social justice and health topics. The pieces are used to support awareness, education and advocacy on these issues.

This program is part of a statewide effort to prevent suicide and reduce stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness while promoting the mental health and wellness of students.

Orange County students took first place in separate categories:

  • Students Tahlia Bumble, Samantha Marr, Scarlett Martinez and Caleb Lim from El Dorado High School won first place statewide in the Mental Health Issues category for their movie “Single. “
  • Student Scott Hayashida from Canyon High School won the first place statewide award in Hope & Justice for his movie “high heritage. “

The program received 939 films made by 2,434 young people from 135 schools and community organizations across California. During the 2021-22 school year, a total of 320 young people from 17 schools in Orange County submitted 118 films about mental health and suicide prevention. Organizers said those who participated in the program are more likely to recognize and respond to signs of distress in themselves and their peers.

Students at Portola High School, El Dorado High School, Canyon High School, Santiago High School, Woodbridge High School, La Quinta High School, Rosari Academy and Samueli Academy are among the Regional and state finalists Recognized for their artistic achievements.

The first place winners from El Dorado High School wanted to make a movie different from any they had seen. They wanted to connect emotionally with people suffering from depression. When alternating the interwoven black thread with yellow thread, the students reinforced the support available to the people. At this point, viewers can see the actress smiling and opening her eyes for the first time.

steering change yellow string
EDHS students used a yellow thread to symbolize the optimism a teenage girl feels once she realizes she has support.

“You might think people won’t understand or care about what you’re going through, but you’re not in this fight alone,” the narrator in the video says. “People support you and you don’t have to fight it alone. Your mental health is important so reach out to it when you need it.”

The video ends with a screen that lists a file The National Suicide Prevention Lifelinephone number.

This year, the Orange County Department of Education Student advocates for the mental health program Partner with nine schools during the school year to support the development of their films and to implement a schoolwide screening event. Here are the winning videos from Orange County by category:

First place in mental health matters:Single
El Dorado High School
Directors: Tahlia Bumble, Samantha Marr, Scarlett Martinez, Caleb Lim
Consultant: Mark Switzer

First place for suicide prevention:Invitation to Messi
Portola high school
Directors: Grace Shaw, Elena Kim, Cecilia Mo, Shelly Sankhala
Consultant: Ryan Echon

Second place for suicide prevention:suicide prevention
Santiago High School
Director: Fatima Mendez
Consultant: Tina Hyland

Suicide Prevention Ranked 3rd – TIED: “One call away
Woodbridge High School
Directors: Jessica Ramirez, Pauline Nguyen, Marilyn Juarez
Counsellor: Megan Humphreys

Suicide Prevention Ranked 3rd – TIED: “crowd noise
La Quinta High School
Filmmakers: Stella Nguyen, Ann Nguyen, Athena Nguyen, Katrina Nguyen, Sydney Huang Dao
Consultant: Amanda Lapera

Second place in mental health matters:anxious mind
Rosary Academy
Filmmakers: Victoria Faith Gomez, Aliana Justiniel, Julia Watson
Consultant: David Lyons

Fifth place in short animation – TIED: “Find out who is lending a helping hand
Samueli Academy
Directors: Mariana Juarez, Kimberly Sanchez and David Maciel
Consultant: Amy Bilderback

First place Hope and Justice – Justice: “high heritage
Canyon High School
Director: Scott Hayashida
Consultant: Alex Graham

Third place Hope and Justice – Justice: “Stop childhood sexual abuse
Director: Emily Reed
Consultant: Steve Bateman

“We were very impressed with the films that were made by the students of Orange County,” said OCDE Program Coordinator Elke Petras. “Not only is it impressive from a video development standpoint, but the messages it contains are so important for other students to hear.”

Program initiatives are funded by county mental health departments through the Mental Health Services Act and administered by the California Mental Health Services Authority.

Directing the change is free to schools and supported by the California Department of Education. For more information visit

The National Suicide Prevention Line is 1-800-273-8255.