Growing up in Brookhaven Hamlet, I went through the South Country School District.
My mother, Juliette Marotta, started as an art teacher there and eventually became art director of the entire district. I was horribly bullied from kindergarten all the way until the day I graduated Bellport High School. That was in 1994.
I still live in Brookhaven Hamlet. My 8-year-old twins attend Our Lady Queen of Apostles in Center Moriches, because I’m nervous they might have an experience similar to the one I had in public school. I want them to be able to focus on their schoolwork, activities and everything else that they love about school. Frankly, bullying terrifies me.
Are you aware that 160,000 kids skip school every day in fear of being bullied? An even scarier statistic is that 100,000 students carry guns to school per year. Furthermore, 87 percent of high school students believe school shootings are in retaliation for bullying. Horrifying.
Something needs to be done.
I remember sitting on my couch on April 20, 1999, and watching Columbine unfold right before my eyes. Kids were running out of the school with their hands above their heads, SWAT teams were called in, watching the body count increase. Yet for today’s society, this is a way of life. A shooting happens, and the response is, “Again?” Rather than horror, these events are met with grim expectation. This isn’t how life is supposed to be.
I am a filmmaker. I own Gemelli Films. I am one of the few successful female writer/directors currently working. My most recent film “What Happened Last Night,” which was just picked up for theatrical distribution in the USA and Canada, was filmed throughout the Town of Brookhaven simply because I wanted to help the economy in my community.
While at the Cannes Film Festival and Marche du Film last month, I was asked to write a “woman in peril” script. Rather than go with the stereotypical “damsel in distress,” I decided to incorporate bullying and school violence into the film.
“Live to Tell” is a film about a high school shooting, told from the inside. Politics do not play a part of the film whatsoever. As a matter of fact, the tagline for the film is “People, not politics.”
It draws attention to how the media gives the shooter or shooters their 15-minutes of fame, but neglects to fully focus on the victims or the heroes.
My film will be shot completely in the Town of Brookhaven starting August 7. I am working to get it funded myself, so that I do not have to bow to the political views of a network and incorporate the underlying themes and hidden agendas that they want.
Again, this film isn’t about politics — It’s about people and relationships with one another, regardless of the age.
This film is designed to create conversations about bullying and school violence.
So if you see us out shooting these next few months, you’ll know exactly what we’re up to.
Anyone looking to support this project financially can visit www.gofundme.com/bullyfilm.