Angst. It's a powerful feeling. BBC News reports that two-thirds of children worry all of the time, according to a quote in upcoming movie “Angst:Breaking the Stigma Around Anxiety”. “Angst: Breaking the Stigma Around Anxiety” is a documentary and virtual reality (VR) experience that looks at anxiety, its causes and effects, and what we can do about it.
“Angst” is executively produced by Scilla (pronounced Sheila) Andreen, CEO and co-founder of IndieFlix and founder of the IndieFlix Foundation. Andreen is also an Emmy-award nominated costume designer, award-winning producer of such films as “Outpatient,” “The Flats,” “Bit Players”, and the recently released “Screenagers”, a documentary about how much screen time is healthy. She is a popular speaker at Sundance, Cannes, CES, SXSW, Women in Film, and other major industry events.
Andreen sat down this past weekend and answered questions for Welum about the inspiration and the making of “Angst” and what she, film director Matt Skerritt, VR experience director Stephanie Riggs, and producer Karin Gornick of “Angst” hope to accomplish with this film, which releases worldwide in May.
Why did you create “Angst”?
When I started the IndieFlix Foundation my Executive Director Tina kept saying we need to make a movie about mental health. But because we were focused on bullying, empowerment and screen addiction, I didn't know how we would fit in a movie about mental health. I kept pushing it aside. On January 1, 2015, I got the call that Tina had passed away. She died by suicide. I immediately put our mental health project on the front burner and it has opened up my world. I have encountered too many friends who have lost loved ones and too many children who are cutting, bingeing, self-medicating and taking their lives. I wish I had listened to Tina sooner and made this movie two years ago.
Why did you choose to make this movie with VR?
I believe film is the most powerful medium on the planet. So we have the documentary which will start the conversation on a mass scale and the virtual reality component affords us the opportunity to help those who don't understand what an anxiety attack feels lik,e therefore creating empathy. And for those who have experienced a panic/anxiety attack, they can see that it will pass. We also want the virtual reality experience to serve as a training tool to help educators identify when a student or anyone may be having an issue and can help them deal with those feelings as well as help pull them out of that spiral.
What do you hope to accomplish with “Angst”?
I simply want to start a conversation that helps break the stigma around anxiety. It is a silent and invisible condition that we should normalize. I don't mean to trivialize it. My goal is to normalize it and get people talking. Talking about anxiety is one of the most effective ways of dealing with it. I want people of all ages to know that they are not alone and that we all experience a certain amount of anxiety... It's actually healthy, but there's a tipping point where there's too much and how we deal with anxiety is important, too.
What film festivals has "Angst" been entered into? Has it won any awards/recognition?
The film is still in production and will be available May 17. We've already been accepted into a couple of film festivals. Our hope is that it will get out into many more festivals and screenings around the world.
Where can people from around the globe experience "Angst: Breaking the Stigma Around Anxiety"?
You can go to indieflix.com or the IndieFlix foundation.org/Angst http://www.indieflixfoundation.org/angst to book a screening or find a screening near you. It's important to us in the first year to screen the film in communities offline so that we can start a conversation and create a community of support for everyone. My goal is to create a dialogue and offer tools and resources so that we can all be there for each other. Just as if someone is choking, we all know to Heimlich them. I want to offer resources and tools for people to see when someone is struggling with anxiety and have the language and resources to help each other.
How different was creating a virtual reality film from creating the films you've made in the past?
Making the movie has been pretty much the same experience as making our other films. This film is no different but to have a virtual reality experience that also creates empathy to help understand what an anxiety attack feels like, I think will be hugely helpful to explore the topic. We also have an app that allows people to have resources and tools in the palm of their hand. Everything we do serves our mission of changing the world within a minute of viewing.
Any comments about future projects?
Yes, we have multiple projects in development. Our next project is “Money”. It addresses financial literacy. In the next three to five years women will control 61% of the nations wealth and we're not prepared. We need women and children to be able to understand hedge funds, investments, and other aspects of finance that require a skill set beyond managing a household budget. We also have a few feel good comedies that serve our mission to do good in the world. I like to shake it up and have a little fun.
Andreen has provided this sneak peak at “Angst” for Welum readers. Their goal is to host 25,000 community screenings of the film. If you’d like your community to host a film, contact the IndieFlix Foundation.