Jack (Deery 2019) was created as a final film for a Screen Production Research PhD in Cinematic Arts at Ulster University. This primary aim of the research project was to investigate ways in which we as filmmakers might represent issues of mental distress and suicidal ideation more constructively in our work. Developing on the themes addressed in the short film DROP (2014), created as a final Masters degree film project, the primary objective of the final PhD research film JACK (2019) was to translate the protective theoretical principles of the Papageno Effect, proposed by Dr Thomas Niederkrotenthaler and colleagues at the Medical University of Vienna, into filmmaking practice.
Jack will be available to watch here from 9 May onwards, coinciding with the 2022 NI Mental Health Arts Festival.
Implementing the Papageno Effect into filmmaking practice led to the creation of a film that conveys the protagonist Jack's mental distress and suicidal ideation, whilst avoiding any descriptive or imicable suicidal behaviour that could contribute to imitative Werther Effect suicidal behaviour. Through the innovative use of video layering and editing techniques, lighting and colour, music and sound, JACK conveys extreme states of mental distress and implies suicidal intention, without depicting or detailing any imitable details of suicide method. The novel techniques and approaches employed in the creation oF JACK represent a departure from traditional cinematic representations of suicide that not only minimises the risk of imitative Werther Effect suicides, but also promotes character resilience, help-seeking and recovery as a positive alternative outcome to suicidal crises. By on-screen modelling of protective behaviours and providing a range of helplines and resources for anyone in need, JACK serves as an example of how filmmakers are able to translate multidisciplinary research into more constructive filmmaking practice concerned with mental distress and suicidal ideation.