When students Cameron Dreyer and Olivia Maloney joined the film club at Aspen Academy, they never thought they could make a difference.
Their first assignment was to create a public service announcement. The 13-year-old girls wanted to feature something unique, and landed on the topic of eating disorders. Neither Cameron nor Olivia had any personal experience with the subject matter, but something in them knew that it was important.
They got to work and put together storyboards for their short film, then presented it to the club teacher, Dan Marcus. The response they got from him was definitely NOT what they were expecting. As the three of them flipped through the girls’ storyboards, with tears in his eyes, Marcus began to get choked up.
It turns out that 20 years ago, his daughter Mandy was the same age as Cameron and Olivia when she developed an eating disorder. Mandy’s condition got so bad that she once went 91 days straight without eating any whole foods, and Marcus’ family staged an intervention to get her into treatment.
With the help and personal experience of their teacher, the girls created a short film called You Are Beautiful, which follows a girl named Abby and her struggles with food, body image and eventually her health. With almost zero dialogue, and some powerful film frames, Olivia and Cameron perfectly captured the real-life struggles of someone with an eating disorder.
The film reveals the secret world of eating disorders.
After its debut at the school, Kristina Scala, President of Aspen Academy, received an overwhelming response from both students and parents about their own personal experiences with eating disorders. She said that the girls’ project “created a conversation.”
The girls said they never expected that they would be able to help people, but they hope that their films can continue to change the world.
As for now, they’re two young filmmakers with a camera—giving others the chance to see their own reflection in a whole new light.
You can see the PSA, which won an award at the My Hero International Film Festival, below: