Meet the budding filmmaker striving to prevent bullying.
MELORA Chang is more than just a regular teenager trying to curb bullying. The 16-year-old is the associate producer of Strain, a short film about bullying which has caught the attention of film critics in the United States.
The issue of bullying struck the American hard when a close friend confided in her about her struggles with being bullied, and revealed that she cuts herself.
“It was really sad because she had no one to turn to but me,” the high school junior said. “She made me promise not to tell anyone, but I knew I had to report it to a teacher. I was afraid she would kill herself, and I would never forgive myself if that ever happened.”
And the 11-minute silent movie focuses on exactly that – friendship, and the power of bystanders who have the ability to prevent bullying from escalating.
“I hope people will understand that not just parents and teachers can make a difference, but bystanders can make a huge impact in bullying prevention too,” said Chang during a recent trip to Penang to visit her grandfather. Chang’s father is Taiwanese and her mother is Malaysian.
Her involvement in the project started with her eldest sister, actress Yin Chang (best known for her role as Nelly Yuki on Gossip Girl), who wanted to do something to get students to take action against bullying.
Yin was bullied in school, being labelled a “chink” and “ugly nerd” because she was different.
“She forgave but never forgot,” Chang added. “With this film, Yin hopes to spread greater awareness about bullying to the world.”
Chang partnered with older sister Lelina, another active advocate, to be associate producers for the film.
Since its released late last month, Strain has been named the official selection of the Fort Myers Beach Film Festival and Minnesota Speechless Film Festival, and will be premiering at the Long Island International Film Expo in New York on Aug 23.
Presently, Chang and her sisters are collaborating with PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. She has also visited several schools in Singapore to promote the film and Yin’s classroom toolkit.
“It is our hope that schools will integrate the film and the toolkit into their health curriculum,” she shared. “We don’t talk about bullying that much, but when we do it shouldn’t be in a boring way.”
The aspiring actress and entrepreneur hopes to continue supporting various anti-bullying organisations in the future.
For those in Malaysia who want to prevent bullying and are interested in showing Strain in their schools, health classes or communities, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.strainfilm.com for more information.