Bully director talks about how he was bullied
Thu, 02 Aug 2012 10:54p.m.
By Ali Ikram
An estimated 13 million children in the US are picked on at school each year.
The documentary Bully is the story of five of those kids and is on at the New Zealand International Film Festival.
Its director Lee Hirsch is also in town and he says it has turned into way more than just a film.
The frightening thing is all the bullying scenes were shot while the kids knew the camera was rolling, but they didn't care.
It's a subject the man behind the lens knew only too well from his schooling
"It was everything from insults to daily assaults to one incident where kids had pulled me into a bathroom and acted out a scene from World War Two,” Hirsch says. “They ran the sinks to hot and said this is a gas chamber and beat me up inside there and shouted things in German. It was consistent and pretty awful.
“We'd heard that the day prior that someone had told him to hang himself because he was worthless. It was a shame he had to do this to get someone to notice him.”
Bully doesn't pull any punches in shining a light on the ultimate cost some families pay.
But the film itself had a fight on its hands when it was slapped with an R-rating because it contained the occasional f word. That was a disaster for Hirsch who wanted as many kids to see the documentary as possible.
"Films like Hunger Games were coming out where 29 kids were brutally murdered while looking sexy to great music it just was ridiculous so we fought."
And Hirsch won.
Now he's fronting a campaign to get a million American kids to see Bully for free and says this is all just part of modern documentary making.
"As professionals we're asked to think about that stuff even before we start rolling the cameras. We write proposals where we talk about audience engagement and the campaign and how do we achieve audience impact."
As for Hirsch, he's looking forward to getting back behind the camera. This time he says it will be something a little more light hearted.
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