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Young Leonia Filmmaker Shines Lens On Domestic Violence

Leonia native Charlie Chalkin is producing a film on domestic violence with a New York City director. Photo Credit: Charlie Chalkin
Matt Marquez is directing a short film on domestic violence with Leonia native Charlie Chalkin. Photo Credit: Matt Marquez
Charlie Chalkin has a clientele base from New York City to Los Angeles. Photo Credit: Facebook
Allison Bressler of Oradell. Photo Credit: Facebook

LEONIA, N.J — Filmmaker Charlie Chalkin of Leonia is hoping his short film on a tough topic is enough to get conversation going.

A mutual friend put 24-year-old Chalkin in touch with the film’s director, Hunter College graduate Matt Marquez of Queens, N.Y., who was seeking a producer for his 7-to-11-minute film on domestic violence.

Their goal is simple: “We have to show people it’s a problem,” Chalkin told Daily Voice.

“It’s one of those things that’s so prevalent in society, but not talked about much. People don’t want to talk about it because it’s so personal and hits so close to home.”

Chalkin, who launched his own videography company, helped raise the more than $13,000 needed to produce the film and is extending his fundraising efforts into production, which begins mid-October.

The film follows an adolescent boy whose parents are abusive toward each other. 

He doesn’t realize he’s directly affected by his parents relationship until he finds himself in a similar situation with his girlfriend and “loses it,” Chalkin said. 

“Even without realizing it,” he said, “it’s a problem.”

Seeking to understand his characters, Marquez, 23, interviewed teens and young adults whose parents had divorced or separated.

“I asked them how [domestic violence] impacted them and found that it heavily altered the way we grow up and how we perceive relationships,” he said.

Children who grew up in homes exposed to domestic abuse — not necessarily including physical assaults — are 50% more likely to be perpetrators or victims in their adult relationships, Oradell counselor Allison Bressler said.

"Children in these homes learn very early on that the way to problem solve is to use verbally assaultive words or their physicality to maintain power and control over their partner in the relationship," said Bressler, who co-launched "A Partnership for Change" in 2007 to break the cycle of abuse.

"We are seeing children display unhealthy behaviors and emotions as early as 6 months old."

Bressler said emotional impact manifests as:

  • Guilt
  • Feeling unloved/unworthy of love
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Desensitization to other emotions

"It is very important to provide these children with as much positive reinforcement as possible and let them know that it isn’t their fault and that this abuse is not okay," she said.

"We must give them outlets to talk about it and learn healthy relationships exist as well."

Chalkin and Marquez hope to debut their film in early November.

“It’s our responsibility as filmmakers to show these problems in society,” Chalkin said. 

“We have to speak up about problems that aren’t spoken about often enough.”

Visit to learn more about the impact of domestic violence on children.

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