Why We Made This Film
Study after study shows that we are failing our youth: Name-calling, bullying and school-based violence are on the rise and out of control in our schools and communities. Yet all too often, there is complacency among young people and adults that bullying is just a normal rite of passage.
We made Let’s Get Real to challenge the assumption that taunting and harassment are an acceptable part of growing up. This film not only features kids who are targeted, but also the youth who do the bullying and the allies who intervene when they witness other kids being picked on. By examining the entire spectrum of bullying, we hope that Let’s Get Real will help kids begin to see a bit of themselves in one another — and give them the courage to express feelings about their own situations.
Unlike other films that focus on bullying purely from a disciplinary perspective, Let’s Get Real lets young people speak for themselves instead of featuring adults telling them what to do. And unlike other films, Let’s Get Real encourages young people to talk frankly about the issues at the root of the problem. Without using euphemisms, kids describe in their own words the tensions around race, gender, perceived sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, class, size and ability that fuel so many conflicts.
It’s an important reminder — not just for youth, but for adults — about the harmful ways in which stereotypes influence our words and our actions. As the latest film in The Respect for All Project, we designed Let’s Get Real as a concrete resource for educators and youth-service providers to combat prejudice before it’s too late.
We found the kids in the film by networking with dozens of schools and hundreds of educators all over the country. We asked them to assign a writing exercise about bullying to their classes, and from those essays, we selected about 300 kids for pre-interviews. The more than 50 young people who appear in the final version of the film were selected because they could articulate their stories most comfortably on camera. All of the students we visited, though, were adamant about one thing: They wanted us to be sure to tell people what was really going on at their school.
Our hope with Let’s Get Real is to broaden the alternatives for dealing with what has become an epidemic in our schools and neighborhoods. By treating bullying simply as a disciplinary issue and ignoring the larger questions at hand, we put ourselves at ease but continue to put our kids at risk. For the sake of our youth, it’s time for all of us — educators, youth-service providers, counselors and parents — to get real.