Rye High Schooler Wins Award At NYC Film Competition

RYE, N.Y. -- Though she is only still in high school, Rye High School rising junior Francesa Murdoch is already making waves.

Francesa Murdoch receiving an award at the Mental Health Film Festival
Francesa Murdoch receiving an award at the Mental Health Film Festival Photo Credit: Contributed

Murdoch's short film, "Intervention," which she wrote and directed in 2014, was screened at the Community Access New York City Mental Health Film Festival. Murdoch won the Young Filmmaker Competiton at the festival.

"Intervention" is about a teenage boy suffering from anxiety and depression while his friend Sarah tries to help him, although she is too late. Murdoch wrote the film when she was only 12, writing the first draft in one sitting.

The movie originated when Murdoch was attending a film club at the Lighthouse Theater in Armonk.

"As teenagers, we've heard that it's hard to change the world," Murdoch said. "This was our attempt at doing that. We wanted to show something from our perspective."

The film was shot over three days at SUNY Purchase and in locations throughout Rye.

"It was a little bit hectic," Murdoch said. "But it was really exciting getting to see the lines you wrote come to life. We worked with incredible wonderful actors who helped make it their own."

After completing the film, Murdoch screened it at various film festivals, where people often had the same reaction, she said.

"That's really dark for a 12-year-old," Murdoch said. "But it's gone over very well. Audiences have been very generous."

The first time she screened the film, Murdoch said she was watching the audience more than the movie.

"It was very exciting," Murdoch said. "I was panicking a little. I was hoping they laughed at the bits that were supposed to be funny and they were affected by the scenes that were supposed to be affecting."

Being able to screen at a festival devoted to mental health was a big honor since mental health issues are important to her, she said. 

Murdoch said she hasn't decided if she wants to study film in college and said she is considering studying theater. She hopes people who view the film realize how much mental health issues can impact teenagers.

"It's really easy for us to feel like there's no one to turn to," Murdoch said. "I hope people who are facing something like this can find the support they need."

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