ABOUT THE TEEN PARTICIPANTS

There are 21 teen participants in the documentary film from three areas of Toronto. In addition to sharing their personal stories about navigating a hyper-sexualized culture, each group undertook the task of making an 8-minute fictional film about social and sexual pressures in teen life. They came up with original scenarios with only one condition imposed – the story could not be a Hollywood version of teens but something true to their own real life experience. Over several months, they wrote the scripts, attended filmmaking boot camps, directed and acted in their films. Selected scenes from each film appear in the documentary.  The complete dramas have been adapted as educational modules on the topic of teen sexual harassment for use in the classroom and youth groups.

In Central Toronto, the group members comprise 3 siblings – Billy, Maria and Stephanie (17,16 and 14 respectively) who are proud of their Greek heritage. Maria’s poignant story of a sexual assault that happened to her in middle school sends an important message to all youth. 16-year-old Mikey moved here from Yellowknife three years ago. He’s on the football team and is the guy who knows everyone and everything that goes on in his high school. 14-year-old Ryan – he composed lyrics to a rap song for the film - aspires to be in the music business and has just started a recording company with a friend. Their short dramatic film “Under Pressure” highlights the consequences of sexual rumours on the high school careers of many people they know. 

East Toronto is an all female group from diverse cultural backgrounds and are in Grades 10 to 12. The idea for their short dramatic film “The Pursuit of Popularity” stems from their experience of seeing many girls start high school in the misguided belief that they have to be sexy in order to be “cool”. The main character Jane is actually played by a different girl in every scene to demonstrate that anyone from any background can be negatively influenced by this kind of peer pressure. For their film research, the group interviews 3 girls just finishing Grade 8 – Pam, Olivia and Alessa – who offer candid insight into the real teen pressures of doing what it takes to fit in. Olivia’s Mom – a high school teacher – gives her daughter and the viewer a powerful analysis of the influence of pop culture and how that’s changed since her own adolescence.

In West Toronto, a group of 5 kids just graduating from Grade 10 choose a dark theme for their short dramatic film “It Could Happen To You”. It is a cautionary tale of teen rebellion involving a creepy boyfriend, the no-holds-barred environment at an all-ages club and a date rape drug. 15-year-old Marta brought much of her real life experience to the script. She has been clubbing since her 13th birthday and mid-way through filming the documentary, she decided to party all weekend with her friends without telling her parents where she was. Marta came home safely but some wild teens find themselves in situations they cannot control, with tragic consequences.