More than 600 students, family members and mental health advocates gathered at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento on Tuesday, May 13 to honor the winning student filmmakers who participated in the second annual Directing Change Video Contest.
The contest, sponsored by the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA), empowers young people to promote suicide prevention and end the silence associated with mental illness among their peers.
Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Instruction, opened the awards ceremony by praising students for increasing awareness around mental health. Following a screening of all regional winning films, actor Max Adler of the hit Fox series “Glee” and ABC Family’s “Switched at Birth” and Bradley Buecker, director and co-producer of “Glee,” took the stage to deliver words of inspiration to the young filmmakers and present the top prizes.
This year’s contest received an impressive 432 submissions, representing 996 students from 112 high schools and 9 University of California campus locations. All submissions were judged by volunteer experts in mental health and suicide prevention, members of the media and professionals in filmmaking and video production. Films were judged based on how the entries creatively explored the topics while also adhering to guidelines about how to safely and appropriately communicate about suicide prevention and mental illness.
This year’s line-up of statewide judges ranged from Hollywood actors and producers to leaders in education and mental health. Lending their expertise in film and television production, statewide judges included actor Max Adler, director and producer Bradley Buecker, producer Scott Budnick and assistant director and producer George Parra.
The award ceremony at the Crest capped a full day of activities around the capitol in honor of “Mental Health Matters Day.” Events throughout the day united more than one thousand people from throughout the state to lend a voice to the growing community of Californians who recognize that mental health is a critical issue for everyone, and that widespread wellness is only possible when fear and stigma are eliminated. Regional winners and their families were invited to join representatives from the mental health community to celebrate their films.
To view the full list of winners and winning videos, visit www.directingchange.org.
*pictured above are Bradley Buecker and Max Adler with first place winners in the Suicide Prevention category: Kendra Goff, Sullivan Rutherford and their lead actor