The school assignment: Create a public service announcement on the subject of your choosing. Two 13-year-old 7th-grade girls chose to tackle eating disorders, and their short film ended up resonating — not just with their peers, but with their teacher.
The short produced and directed by Olivia Maloney and Cameron Dreyer, "You Are Beautiful," has very little dialogue. It follows a young girl, "Abbey," as she struggles with food and body image. When Olivia and Cameron were interviewed on the local news in Denver, they told the reporter it was their first time making a film.
But as their teacher, Dan Marcus, tells Today, when he saw the storyboard for the PSA, he was moved on a personal level: His own daughter, Mindy, had struggled with an eating disorder when she was young. "When you see Abbey looking sideways into the mirror — I remember seeing Mindy doing that and saying, you know, 'I'm too fat,'" he says. The short has gone on to win "Best Student Film" at the 2013 Colorful Colorado Film Festival, as well as first place in the Middle School Category at the My Hero International Film Festival.
These days a lot of video goes viral, and clips often involve flashy stunts or effects. This PSA is very simple. Maybe overly simplistic, in a way. But its quiet focus — and the fact that you're actually seeing things through the eyes of young girls — gives it power.