Filming the Battle Within

Speaking about mental illness can be difficult for many people; there are issues of privacy to consider and the stigma associated with it in the community.

Last year, Steve and I worked on a film about Joe Williams, a local sportsman who shared his battle with depression and suicidal thoughts. His story is an inspiring one for our community because it’s a story of hope and survival.

Filming his story and sharing it through local screenings has helped to raise awareness of the mental health issues that affect many others in our community

The Enemy Within was made for the 2014  and we became involved in the project after Simone Dowding approached us with her script and vision. We volunteered our time and resources to help bring the film to life.

While we were keen to work on the film with Simone directing, neither of us had met Joe before. It took a little while for him to trust us enough to open up and share a painful personal story. But we got there and worked together really well.

Conveying an inner struggle on screen can be difficult and to overcome this we tried to highlight Joe’s inner struggle through his boxing. In contrast, we also filmed him being content with his young family.

Simone had worked closely with Joe to develop a script that captured both the high and the low points of his life, from his inner struggle to his boxing prowess and the support of his loving family.

We worked on the film over three months and as the project progressed, our respect for each member’s contributions to the project deepened, as did our personal friendships.

The whole team has been really encouraged by how the community has reacted to our film. It won the People’s Choice Award for the Waggafest and we’re gratified that it has meant something to people in our community who are struggling with their mental health.

Recently Riverina Bluebell, a local mental health association, hosted a screening of the film which was followed by a panel discussion. Joe joined the panel, along with Chris Wilson, chair of Riverina Bluebell and John Harper, a mental health ambassador. We were so pleased that our film was able to help people in our community who are suffering find help and talk about their experiences.

The film will continue to be used by Simone and Joe at events and school talks aimed at raising awareness of mental health in our community.

We feel lucky to have been able to help produce a film like this that has really struck a chord with the community and are looking forward to making more films that highlight mental health issues.

This week, the prize money from the Waggafest People’s Choice award will be donated to Riverina Bluebell to raise awareness of mental health in the local community.

If you need advice about coping with your situation there are lots of places to get help. Find someone to help you. 
24 hour support is available from Lifeline – 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service (24 hour support) – 1300 659 467

Cristy Houghton