Lava Lamp Films is committed to producing feature films that can touch the hearts and minds of our audience. In writing the screenplay for our upcoming feature-length film Adagio, our team has been passionate and intentional about developing the movie as a positive mental-health resource.
We have worked directly with mental health professionals from the beginning and have included them as advisors at every step of the screenwriting process. Hearing their insights and doing extensive research have been hugely beneficial to crafting the story.
The reality is that mental health struggles are as complex and diverse as the people who struggle with them. While there are many common themes, every story is unique. One challenge in storytelling is how to portray a mental health struggle in a way that is accurate and does not increase the stigma around mental illness. The film needs to accurately represent the experience in order for people to connect with the message. Our writers have interviewed families who have lost someone to suicide and they have sat with individuals who struggle with mental illness to better understand their stories and perspectives.
At the same time, when writing a screenplay, it is critical to avoid glorifying harmful behaviors. Studies have shown that children and young adults are more prone to mimic behavior they see on the screen. Graphic scenes in movies can re-traumitize victims. And they have even been shown to negatively impact mentally healthy individuals by storing traumatizing images in the brain. For example, it’s unsafe to show every step of a suicide attempt or express that a character achieves a goal through self harm. There’s a fine balance between making a scene engaging and following mental health guidelines. Our mental health experts advise us about where that line is, and help us know what behaviors would be beneficial to encourage.
Adagio has been delicately designed to model positive and constructive behaviors for those grappling with mental health and for the people who love them, while also being raw and honest about the realities of mental illness. Some of the beneficial actions Adagio demonstrates include: reaching out for help, accessing resources, building trust, connecting with others, and listening actively. When people reach out to each other in relationship by being open and truly listening, they can build trust. That is the foundation. Trust opens the doors to allowing the raw parts of the soul and deep internal battles come into the light and be healed. People discover that they are not alone and can allow others to share the load of their struggles. Everyone needs caring relationships.
The world needs uplifting films. Filmmakers and Hollywood are in a unique position to help change lives for the better. We can choose to bring hope. We can choose to do better and together create a stronger and more empathetic society. Adagio can be the beginning of something truly amazing.
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