Young script writer’s efforts rewarded

The teenaged script writer of an award-winning film says one of her biggest compliments is when a peer calls her film about school bullying “great.”

Anne Privett, an Anglican whose father is Archdeacon John Privett, of Christ Church, Edmonton, says that when the film aired recently at the Provincial Museum of Alberta, the crew got a tremendous response from gathered families and friends.

“It’s a huge compliment when someone your own age says they enjoyed it,” said Ms. Privett. 

The film, entitled Pariahs, won the best feature film and best actress awards at the International Teen Movie Festival, held recently in Vaughan, Ont., north of Toronto. The best feature film award brought Will Beauchamp, the teenaged director, $10,000, plus an additional $10,000 from Warner Bros. to develop another script and film. Ms. Privett and her Pariahs writing collaborator Alexis Hillier hope to work on the script for the new project.

About 30 students from the film club at Archbishop MacDonald high school in Edmonton worked on Pariahs. The film was shot during the school year, from September 2000 through April 2001.

In the film, Grade 12 student Tyler (played by Russell S. Bell), who has been a target for bullies since childhood, is facing worse abuse by a fellow student since they both developed a crush on the same girl. Tyler struggles to keep himself under control while sharing his troubles with an online friend he meets in a chatroom. The friend, who goes by the name “Archangel” advises Tyler that the bullying will continue as long as the bully believes he has power over him.

The film has a surprising twist at the end, a redemptive reminder that “even when you’re at your wit’s end, there is always a solution besides revenge,” said Ms. Privett. 

She said the film’s themes were drawn from incidents of school violence at Columbine High School, in Boulder, Colo. and Taber, Alta., where young people with histories of being bullied killed fellow students.

While she did not intentionally add elements of her own faith to the script – “the audience would be too varied” for a strictly Christian message – the basic golden rule is at the root of the film’s premise, she said: “Everybody … deserves to be respected for who they are. There is no excuse for bullying.”

Ms. Privett, 18, is now enrolled in an arts program at the University of Alberta and hopes to continue writing; in addition to her film script, she has also written short stories and novels.

The 76-minute film is showing at the provincial museum in Edmonton and has screened on HSTN (the High School Television Network). As a festival winner, it will also likely air on U.S. network MTV.


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