Alum Victoria Jelstrom Swilley’s Film Project

If there is one issue that can bring my blood to a boiling point it is the horrible tragedy of student bullying throughout all levels of the educational system of America.

What students face today is NOT the “harmless boys-will-be-boys” play of years gone past. It is ruining lives, crushing self-esteem, and too often ending in suicide.

We don’t tolerate it at all on on Belhaven’s campus.  Nor do we tolerate ANY level of hazing, initiations, etc.  I tell our coaching staff every year, the single fastest way to get fired is to tolerate any level of hazing – you’ll be gone if you do.

(Told you it get’s my blood pressure up in a hurry.)

So….here is the real purpose of this blog post.  Read this message below from one of our most recent alums. And if God calls you to join with me in making a small gift to help her project, I think it will be an important investment.

Hello Dr. Parrott (and Alumni Office),

I’m a 2010 graduate of Belhaven, the first person to graduate from the Musical Theater track, actually. I’ve moved to Florida and begun being involved in the film industry, first as an actor, and now as a filmmaker. Right now my big project is a short film called “The Lesson”, a message film about bullying. We are trying to stay as far afield as possible from the stereotypical “jocks beating up the nerds” angle taken by most media, and instead portray bullying the way it really is, showing the potential consequences, and encouraging people to step in when they observe someone being victimized.

Here is a short video of me explaining about the film and why it’s important to me. Please take a moment to watch it; I feel it describes why we are doing this better than text alone can.

The best way to get a short film noticed and watched is to submit to film festivals, which is what we are aiming to do when production finishes. To do well in festivals, we need enough money to produce it in the most excellent way possible. We are fundraising right now via Kickstarter at the link HERE If you would like to share either link on any media (blogs, alumni blasts, whatever), I’d really appreciate it.

I do want to let you know that because of the nature of bullying (and because we are wanting to present it in a truthful, non-stereotypical way), the film isn’t going to be an easy one to watch. The script is clean (no sex or profanity), but there is some self-harm, implied violence from a parent, eating disorders, smoking, gay slurs (no openly gay characters), and racial issues are addressed as well.  At one point in the script the audience will assume that some teens commit suicide, although once the ending is reached it becomes obvious that someone has intervened, and it goes out on a positive, uplifting note. We are trying as much as possible to be truthful and tasteful in handling these issues, without being gratuitous. My aim is that God be glorified, though our company is not officially faith-based or religiously affiliated.

Our goal is to encourage people to step in, “Stand Alone” if need be, on behalf of victims; far too often people just turn a blind eye to bullying, or even blame the victims. Personally, through this film, I am trying to show that everyone is worthy of respect and love, because Jesus loved everyone, regardless of their sin or anything that made them different from the rest of society.

I hope you will feel led to help me bring awareness of this important issue more to the forefront of our societal consciousness and stop the victimization of children because they are different or don’t “fit the mold”.

God bless, and thank you for reading.

Victoria Jelstrom Swilley
Director, StandAlone Pictures



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