Bayonne residents saw the premiere of a locally made film at Mt. Carmel Lyceum on Dec. 9. But this was no summer blockbuster like the recently released “War of the Worlds.” Rather, the film that was shot over four days last June was an effort by Advocates for Bayonne Children to curb teen violence statewide.
The group contracted with Montclair State University’s television production staff to create a video that would bring home to the community the wide-ranging impacts that teen violence has on kids, families and the community.
The film, called “Your Worst Nightmare,” depicts two boys who after continued provocation get into a fight over a girl at the high school. It chronicles the paths the two boys take afterwards. One student is injured badly enough to need to be treated at the medical center. The other is arrested and arraigned in court, spending time in a jail cell.
One of the teens is led away in handcuffs, the other taken to the hospital on a stretcher.
At one point, the film depicts a lawyer telling the mother of the arrested teen that she can be sued for what her son has done, while the other parents are told that their son is in critical condition.
Nina Dopkin, founder of Advocates for Bayonne Children, said the film crews shot two days at the high school, and two days at other locations.
“We hope this leads to discussion with kids about the ramifications of violence, where it can lead and how it can affect their whole life,” she said.
It seemed like a good idea
Advocates for Bayonne Children, founded 25 years ago, has been seeking more and more effective ways to counter violence among teens. In this case, the group wanted to find a graphic was to bring home to teachers, students, parents and community members the negative impact violence has, and that it can continue beyond the fight.
Although the group has done other things in the past, they spent the last few years trying to come up with something that would really get the attention of people.
“We brainstormed and came up with this,” said Dopkin.
Dopkin, along with Co-Presidents Agnes Gillespie and Joann Dost and Police Capt. Charles Ryan, helped develop the idea. Then they talked to various officials, including the mayor, the police chief, and school officials, and sought professional help from Montclair University.
“We want kids to think about what they are doing before they throw the first punch,” said Agnes Gillespie. “This isn’t just a Bayonne problem. Teen violence is an issue throughout the state.”
For this reason, the film will be distributed to school-based youth services groups at 70 middle and high schools throughout the state. These sites help fight violence, drug abuse and other problems associated with young people. Gillespie also serves as the state director of the New Jersey School Based Youth Services.
Real life and real actors
To make the film authentic, Bayonne Police Department Capt. Charles Ryan was heavily involved in the planning, and looked over the script to make certain that there was nothing that did not fit in with procedure.
In writing the script, every detail was researched to make it as accurate a portrayal as possible.
“We put out a casting call, hired real actors and raised the money,” Dopkin said.
Patricia Piroh, who served as the film’s producer and director, said her group took on the project because of the strong community support.
While most of the cast came from the university, other actors were also involved.
“We had a casting call,” said Nina Dopkin, of the Advocates for Bayonne Children. “We had real actors playing the roles in this.”
Brendon Bates, who played on of the police officers, is an actor who played one of the police officers. Previously he had worked stage productions such as “The Savior of Fenway” in Boston and the Fringe Film Festival. He said he heard about the casting call from the University because he had worked with the director previously.
Based on information supplied by the Advocates for Bayonne Children, the staff from Montclair University wrote the script and rehearsed with actors.
The production cost about $25,000, which the Advocates for Bayonne raised through donations from Provident Bank, Pamrapo Savings Bank, Bayonne Community Bank, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, PSE&G, and others
Dopkin said everyone in the community cooperated. The Bayonne Police Department, the Municipal Court, and the Bayonne Medical Center allowed the crews to come in and film. McCabe Ambulance Service, which provides service for the city, allowed free use of an ambulance, equipment, even some of its people.
People like Municipal Court Judge Mark Baber and Bayonne High School Principal Richard Baccarella, Kenneth Hampton, the Board of Education attorney, and lawyer John Hughes all got involved. So did Dr. Young Yoon with the medical center, and H. Mickey McCabe, the owner of McCabe Ambulance.
For the premiere, Café Bello donated food and Mt. Carmel Lyceum donated room and beverages.
The video will be broadcast locally on Cablevision and Comcast.
Contact Al Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org