Boys Don't Cry: Mosman Teenager Nick Ward Makes Tropfest History
Exclusive by TOM USHER
MOSMAN FILM MAKER NICK WARD HAS BECOME THE YOUNGEST TROPFEST FINALIST IN HISTORY, AT THE AGE OF JUST 16 - WITH A THOUGHT PROVOKING, EMOTIONAL DRAMA ABOUT TEENAGE MENTAL HEALTH.
CALLED 'BOYS DON'T CRY', THE MOVIE TACKLES THE ALARMING EPIDEMIC OF DEPRESSION, ANXIETY AND SUICIDE AMONG YOUNG AUSTRALIANS.
IN THIS SPECIAL REPORT, THE YEAR 11 SCOTS COLLEGE STUDENT SPEAKS EXCLUSIVELY TO HIS 16-YEAR-OLD MATE TOM USHER, ABOUT THE GROWING HEALTH AND WELLBEING ISSUES FACING THEIR GENERATION.
*WARNING: This interview contains strong language
TOM USHER: THANKS FOR YOUR TIME NICK. TELL US ABOUT "BOYS DON'T CRY"?
NICK WARD: Thanks Tom. I guess the reason we made it is because we have only ever seen or heard about teenage mental health issues from an adult perspective, and I felt it was time to change that. So we've tackled adolescent depression in a real and raw way; one that teenagers can hopefully relate to.
RIGHT FROM THE TIME WE ARE BABIES, BOYS HEAR THINGS LIKE "MAN UP", "DON'T CRY", "SUCK IT UP" OR "TAKE IT LIKE A MAN" BUT YOUR MESSAGE IS JUST THE OPPOSITE ISN'T IT?
It's hard being a male - many of us are dealing with some really heavy shit, but not voicing it. Society has created an atmosphere where it's common for boys to feel they have to keep their emotions on the inside. Heaps of my mates say 'I hate crying' but I don't get it. I love crying - it's underrated.
SO ADMITTING THAT YOU CRY ISN'T A BIG DEAL FOR YOU?
Not at all. Masculinity is a cesspool to be honest. We just assume that we have to be these huge tough warlords; hunters-gatherers and that's just not the case. Everyone is born with a certain amount of sensitivity and men especially need to learn to embrace that.
HOW REAL IS ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION IN OUR PEER GROUPS?
It's a massive problem. One of the facts that we highlight at the start of the film is that one in seven teens are diagnosed with a mental illness. I guess as young Australians, we are dealing with so much stuff earlier in our lives than previous generations would have. Divorce rates are getting higher; drugs are much more accessible.
AND MENTAL HEALTH IS AN ONGOING PROBLEM WOULD YOU AGREE? BECAUSE IT HAPPENS BOTH ON AND OFF SCHOOL CAMPUS DOESN'T IT?
Totally. I'm surrounded by a lot of people who are really affected by it. I have a few mates who won't get help and won't see a therapist or a doctor, because they say they don't want to be a burden. It's so upsetting.
"It's hard being a male - many of us are dealing with some really heavy shit, but not voicing it."
- Nick Ward.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN ISSUES FACED BY TEENAGERS TODAY? WHAT ARE THE TRIGGER POINTS THAT CAUSE OUR MATES TO BREAK DOWN?
What sucks about our generation is the existence of a group mentality and everyone feeling pressured to follow the pack. You know that game show where there is the hole in the wall and you have to make a shape with your body to get through it and it keeps getting more difficult?
Well a teenagers life is like that these days. I guess society only accepts one sort of person and if you are a different type of person then you won't fit in. You are tagged as an outcast. There is a whole generation of people who don't have the courage to have their own taste in clothes, or music because they are worried about how they will be perceived. We have to change that.
IT'S WEIRD TO THINK THAT WE'VE BOTH MADE IT TO YEAR 11, BUT HEAPS OF US HAVEN'T BECAUSE OF TEENAGE DEPRESSION. WE HAVE ALL BEEN TOUCHED BY SUICIDE IN SOME WAY, HAVEN'T WE?
Yep and it's fu**ked up. I have friends who have been affected by it, you have friends who have been affected by it - most of the boys in Mosman know someone who has been affected by it and it's shit. Families are left shattered and its always so unexpected. Someone could be at school one day and the next day they're just gone.
I GUESS THE POSITIVE IN ALL OF THIS IS THAT YOU NOW HAVE A WAY TO RAISE AWARENESS THROUGH THE FILM ...
I really hope 'Boys Don't Cry' raises awareness of this issue. We wanted it to be from a teenagers perspective so everyone gets a handle on the issue from our side of the fence. My aim is to be able to partner up with a foundation like Beyond Blue, or Man Up or The Black Dog Institute and get this film out there as much as possible.
"Honestly, just get help. talk to someone ... Just don't keep your dark feelings hidden inside you because it doesn't ever end well."
- Nick Ward.
AS TEENAGE BOYS, WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP EACH OTHER?
I think we just need to communicate. It sounds so simple but its very hard for many of us to do. We just need to talk. There is such a lack of communication in our culture and everyone seems to be having very shallow conversations. As men we need to have more D&M's, we have to open up - even if its your guitar teacher, or the neighbour or a family friend - we need to have some sort of outlet.
IF ANYONE OUT THERE IS SUFFERING AT THE MOMENT, WHAT IS YOUR MESSAGE TO THEM?
Honestly, just get help. Talk to someone. If you're too embarrassed to speak to your parents that's totally OK. Get a mate, grab the school counsellor, see a girl that you know who lives down the road. Just don't keep your dark feelings hidden inside you because it doesn't ever end well. And we have our entire lives to look forward to.
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THE OTHER LOCALS WHO ARE IN THE FILM - A FEW OF THE BOYS GOT INVOLVED DIDN'T THEY?
WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION WHEN YOU FOUND OUT YOU WERE A TROPFEST FINALIST?
I was at a friends house and I got a phone call from John Polson and it was insane. I still haven't kind of absorbed it yet so I'll lose my shit when I finally process it. I really only realised the gravity of it all when I heard that this is the biggest short film festival in the world.
HOW LONG DID "BOYS DON'T CRY" TAKE TO MAKE?
About five months all up. It was pretty difficult to manage filming and schoolwork. and I wrote the script as well. We only had an hour or two spare on any given day so it was pretty full on.
DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER HOBBIES BESIDES FILM MAKING?
Yeah, shout out to my SoundCloud which is "lostinstruments" (click HERE to listen to Nick) and I also like writing and photography.
COOL YEAH. WHAT MUSIC DO YOU LIKE?
Can't really narrow it down to any genre. I have phases with almost every style of music. I like Vampire Weekend, Arcade Fire, Joji, Radiohead - off the top of my head.
DO THOSE ARTISTS INSPIRE YOUR FILM MAKING?
Yep, especially Joji and Radiohead for this film. I like the way their music videos are shot and their aesthetic as artists. The whole vibe really influenced me when I was writing Boys Don't Cry.
EVERYONE WANTS TO KNOW IF YOU'RE GOING TO GET AN AGENT AND GO ALL HOLLYWOOD ON US!
Nah. Hollywood is not for me. I'm just looking for respect from critics and stuff like that rather than big box office takings. I haven't thought about getting an agent but I want to start doing music videos for local bands. Perhaps Lorde or Gang of Youths.
BEST ADVICE YOU'VE EVER RECEIVED?
I was just watching a film called '50/50' and there's a line that says; "you can't change the situation you're in, you can only change how you deal with it" ... it really makes you think about just rolling with life and not freaking out about the small stuff like being late to events.
GOOD LUCK FOR TROPFEST NICK.
IF YOU OR ANYONE YOU KNOW NEEDS HELP:
LIFELINE: 13 11 14
BEYOND BLUE: 1300 22 46 36
KIDS HELP LINE: 1800 55 1800
FOLLOW NICK On INSTA:
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