At 18, Alexander Haney possesses an impressive body of work. The young filmmaker's latest project is an anti-bullying film entitled “Charity”, produced in association with The Stop Bullying Foundation, The Puffin Foundation, and However Productions.
Haney was bullied to the point of death at school and has decided to use his horrific past to help victims and to raise awareness to this heinous trend. Bullying is of grave concern nowadays, especially with the onset of social media, therefore it's important to shine a light on the issue and open up dialogue.
Film News recently caught up with Haney to discuss the incredible work he's putting forth to eradicate bullying, including his inspired quest to stand up for the underdog, and furthermore his love of film-making. Film News - When did you realize you wanted to be a filmmaker?
I started out as an actor, doing voice acting for Screen Actors Guild jobs since I was 6. Through elementary and middle school, I also explored many other creative mediums, such as creative writing, character design, and painting. However, I never felt fully satisfied. It wasn't until early high school that it clicked and I realized that filmmaking is the perfect combination of everything I love. It is visual and emotional, and, most of all, allows me to express stories in new and fascinating ways. Film News - Which filmmakers have influenced you?
I love the work of Christopher Nolan, Stanley Kubrick, and Tim Burton. Nolan's films are explosive and thrilling yet also carries great emotional depth, a quality I wish to include in every film I make. With his films, Kubrick has shown me that truly great films allow viewers to take meaning from the simplest of details, something I am inspired to bring to my projects. Lastly, Tim Burton's films have shown me what it really means to add style to a project, and how wild and crazy fantasy scenarios can be inhabited by some of the most relatable characters. Film News - I understand that you have partnered with The Stop Bullying Foundation, The Puffin Foundation and However Productions and have put together a film called Charity. What can you tell me about that?
“Charity” is an anti-bullying film based on my own experiences surviving bullying. I was lucky to receive a grant for "Charity" from the Puffin Foundation, which seeks to support artists and their projects. Both the Stop Bullying Foundation and However Productions produced "Charity," and they were key in helping my project reach the screen. However Productions produces projects relating to social justice themes and seeks to make a change through art; I was so lucky to work with them. The Stop Bullying Foundation intends to use the film as part of an educational program, bringing my story to schools to raise awareness about bullying and take a step toward stopping it. Film News - “Charity”, is based on your own personal experience as a victim of bullying. Was it a difficult or cathartic process?
Though it may seem that creating "Charity" could have been difficult for me, it was amazing to be able to express myself and turn my experience into art. As a filmmaker, film is my voice, and by creating "Charity" I was finally able to speak about my experience for the first time. One of the aspects of “Charity” that made it much easier for me to tell was my choice to make the main character a girl instead of a boy. I consider "Charity" to be an expression of my emotional experience rather than a recreation of what happened to me, and therefore wanted to find a way to relate my emotional journey in a way that was removed from the actual story. I knew that my twin sister Angela Haney would be perfect for the role of the main character. She is one of the most talented actresses I know, and, having lived my experience with me, knew how to bring the real emotions needed for such a complex and serious role. Film News - You were bullied growing up, almost to the point of death. What can you tell me about that? How did it affect you?
My bullying experience came from my trying to fit into a group of "friends" at my school who loved making fun of others and saw unkindness as a virtue. I grew up with a kind and loving family, and never had to learn how to stand up to harassment. I also was in denial that I was even being bullied, and always told myself that they were just joking and that they really were my friends. As I got older and Facebook and Twitter became involved, it only got worse. After the viciousness reached its height in the middle of high school, I wrote "Charity” as a way to express myself when I felt like there was nobody who would listen. The moment I was able to shift my own perspective to something positive, I got better. Now, having survived my ordeal and graduated high school, I can say I understand so much more about what it means to be a true friend, how to truly stand up for yourself, and, most importantly, how to find the power to make your situation better. Film News - What advice would you give to bully victims?
The biggest advice I can give is to get help. When I was being bullied, I took way too long to approach an adult or even a friend for support and advice. Once you know someone else is there to support you, it becomes so much easier to handle. In addition, asking an authority figure to intervene is much better than letting the bullying continue. What changed me the most was my realization that each person is much more powerful than he or she thinks. What got me out of the rut I was in was when I stopped focusing on the negatives and started doing what I love: filmmaking. The way I stood up for myself was by creating "Charity." Peacefully standing up for yourself, in whatever form that may be, can go a long way. Sometimes all it takes is to look the bully in the eye and tell him or her that what they're doing is not okay. If you believe that you can overcome the bullying, you can. Film News - You have achieved so much and you're only 18. What do you attribute this to?
There are many techniques I use when I approach my life, and I feel like they've contributed a lot to my success. First of all, I always try to be the best person I can be, both intellectually and morally. When you do good thing for others, you always get good things back. I also visualize specifically where I want to be in the future, and where I want my projects to go. The way I think of it, before you can get there you have to see yourself there. Of course, I certainly wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near where I am today if it weren’t for my loving and supportive parents, who have always told me to go for my dreams. Lastly, I always try to seek out every opportunity there for me, and go for each one. As my favorite quote states, "The greatest failure is not to try." Film News - You are running a "No More Bull%$! / No More BullYING” campaign to raise money to bring your film to schools around the world to help educate about what bullying does... How can people get involved with this movement?
To get involved with the movement, you can follow the film on twitter @CharityTheFilm, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/CharityTheFilm
, or on its website at www.CharityTheFilm.com
. We're trying to make positive change about how people view bullying, and every person counts in making the world more aware. Film News - Anything else you wish to share with Film News?
The Stop Bullying Foundation is running an Indiegogo campaign to help raise funds to finish “Charity." If you would like to support the film and its anti-bullying message, check out our Facebook, Twitter, or website for a link! To show your support for this incredibly worthwhile cause head to........https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/charity-a-film-from-the-stop-bullying-foundation