“Point 453” and Using the Youth Voice to Discuss Bipolar Disorder

Written by Ethan Paisley, writer/producer of Point 453 || @ethanbpaisley
Read our review of Point 453 here

Point 453, in summary, is a feature-length film that exemplifies the effects of untreated bipolar disorder on a family unit. I felt passionate about writing the screenplay due to personal experiences with bipolar disorder within my own family life as well as observations regarding mental illness in the lives of friends and media figures.

Through research and collaboration with a team of 10 other teen crew members, my story transformed into a depiction of the isolation that presents in a family unit due to the presence of untreated mental illness. Currently at the completion stage, my team is determined to present the film with the goal to provide audience members experiencing mental illness with the affirmation of the isolation mental health presents, the problems within that, and ultimately a sense of hope showing how individuals can overcome these challenges in the long-run as is shown in the film.

unnamed-8I began writing on a romance script during late 2015 when I experienced symptoms of depression and found myself reaching out to my family in search of support. In doing this, I found a way I could enhance the emotional side of my script by incorporating factors of mental illness to create a bigger conflict in the story. As I continued writing and building the protagonist using research about the mental health conditions personal to myself and my family, I found a parallel between my dad and I, who is diagnosed bipolar. Once I had recognized how the disease affects other parts of my family, I was inspired to shift the perspective of the story and centralize it on the relationship between the protagonist and his father, and how their mental state reflected each other.

I used this relationship to contrast the rest of the household which I depicted as more stringent and reactive to the sometimes outlandish behavior of the father and son, and soon began crafting a story that was solely focused on life in a family experiencing untreated bipolar disorder. The story elements were finalized in April of 2016, and tracked the father and son throughout their whole lives as companions into the son’s early twenties, showing the fallout of the father and his wife, the son and his friends, and their difficulties in work, substance abuse, and general everyday struggles experienced by untreated bipolar people..

The titular location, Point 453, became a significant element of the story, as it served as a place where in the early childhood phase of the film, the father and son would visit together and play around at, which the protagonist constantly reflects on and reminisces as he grows older, wishing for the freedom that the whimsical spot provided for him as a child. “This is a film about humanity, family, and the idea that love and genuine connections can conquer any isolating factor, whether it’s mental illness or even sexuality, race, or gender. I hope the audience can learn and appreciate something about Point 453, whether it educates them on treating bipolar disorder or reminds them to tell their best friend they love them,” (Paisley, Director’s Statement). My director’s statement shows how the universal nature of untreated bipolar disorder and its effect on a household is the central concept of the story and the way I chose to depict it, as it related to many of the filmmakers and actors along the way.

As production progressed on Point 453 and further cast/crew were attached, I began to make more connections to others who dealt with the same experiences and commended my script on its relevance. Three of the principal actors reported having family members with the illness that left an effect on them and their current living situations, which is what is depicted in the film. For the cast and crew who didn’t find a parallel between the script and their lives, everyone was able to appreciate the message of the movie and the idea that during chaos surrounding an isolating factor such as mental health, sexuality, or gender, everything will be okay and everyone must accept and forgive.

Acceptance and forgiveness are major themes in the film and are applicable to various kinds of situations audience members may be enduring, and that is what makes the film important in the eyes of myself and the rest of the team: the film touches on the commonality of mental illness and explores the isolation it presents in a family unit. The feeling of isolation depicted is what drives the story, and in that, can be related to not only in terms of mental illness, but as said, gender, sexuality, race, or another isolating factor.

In conclusion, the film took a lot of talking between four of my own family members and six friends who have dealt with the illness and helped correct my plot during its development. Due to the specificity within bipolar disorder and it’s wide range of effects, I generalized the research into a common theme which was the isolation the disease presented to a household. This isolation was the driving force of the story and depicted bipolar disorder in a very fluid and universal sense, that was joined by aspects of family life when dealing with isolation. Thus, Point 453 was born and will begin its festival journey and official release in January of 2017.


You can learn more about Point 453 by checking out their website.

Take 18 Entertainment is an independent, teen-led production company. You can learn more by checking out their website.

You can view the trailer here.

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