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Cambridge filmmaker turns the camera on the issue of teens under stress


By Ben Comber


Drama pupils from the Pauline Quirke Academy star in Persianmonkeys Balloon.
Drama pupils from the Pauline Quirke Academy star in Persianmonkeys Balloon.

A team of Cambridge filmmakers have been working with drama students at The Pauline Quirke Academy to create a short film focussed on the stresses faced by teenagers at school.

Balloon was written and is being directed by Rob Oliver. The first of two shoots took place on Saturday (April 14), and the actors will be back in front of the camera this Saturday (April 21).

Rob, who is making the film through his production company Persianmonkey, told the Cambridge Independent: “The film is about a schoolgirl struggling with exam stress and bullying. It’s quite a sensitive subject and the kids in the film are at that age where their big exams are coming up.

“Most haven’t been in a short film before, but they’ve been so professional.”

He added: “About two years ago I was sat in a traffic jam and I saw a schoolgirl walking home looking close to tears. A couple of days later there was a news article about depression in children, and it’s something I’d never thought about.

“So I did a bit more digging and found a Public Health England information pack about it, which opened my eyes to it. It’s a huge subject that is not often talked about. I came up with the idea for a balloon to be a metaphor for the emotional stress that children carry around with them. It’s so difficult to be a child these days with social media telling you how to be and feel. It struck a chord with me.”

Rob was providing cover for the academy’s weekly drama school when the production started.

Once the filming has been wrapped he said it will take two weeks to edit, and will then be available online.

“We’re going to do the film festival circuit and hopefully it’ll get into the Cambridge festival,” Rob said. “I’ve had a few films that I’ve submitted to it in the past that haven’t got through, but hopefully this will be the one.

“And I’m hoping to talk to children’s charities as well. Hopefully they’ll be able to use it as promotional media.”

Balloon will be available to view online in the coming weeks at persianmonkey.com.



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