While wandering the streets of New York City, a nameless woman confronts her deep-seated body dysmorphia, discovering the insidious ways it shapes her life and relationships along the way. This short film, made by an all-women team, will highlight an often misunderstood mental health disorder.
Mission StatementThis is a film about the lies our reflections tell us about how we measure up to others. Body dysmorphia is most prevalent among female-identifying folks, so our all women crew will make the story of one woman’s disordered relationship with her body universal to everyone who has had this experience.
About The Project
This short film examines the isolation, shame, and even absurdity of having body dysmorphia. Through evocative visuals and original music and dance, the audience will see the world through our main character’s eyes and come to understand the ways in which having a disordered relationship with your body destroys your connection to yourself and those around you.
How It All Came Together:
“The idea for this script came to me after being in recovery from an eating disorder for almost a year. I was making good strides in shifting my mindset around food and my body, but one day I felt like I was backsliding. Everything I did made me acutely aware of how much space I took up, and I was beginning to think that maybe it was too much space. I was in the bathroom at work, surrounded by mirrors, and I hit a mental wall. All I wanted was to not think about my body for one second, but I felt like I was being forced to. Suddenly, all of the terrible things I’ve thought about myself and about others flooded my mind. I was angry at how all-consuming these thoughts were and the amount of brain space they took up. I wanted them out, so I picked up a pen and put them on the page.”
“The day before Carla sent me this script, I had been wandering around New York noticing how often I was looking at my reflection. I was catching myself checking my appearance in windows, subway cars, and pretty much any reflective surface I encountered. I was so annoyed with myself and of course, highly critical. I was constantly checking in to see if I looked okay, how thin (or not thin) I looked, how flattering (or not flattering) my outfit was, if my hair was a mess, etc. to the point I just wanted to scream at myself to stop being so vain. I was honestly embarrassed by how much of my mental bandwidth was being taken up by this obsession with my appearance. Then, that evening, Carla sent me The Appraiser and I was gobsmacked. I couldn’t believe she wrote about the exact experience I was having on the very day I was feeling so alone in this phenomenon. I felt so much more empowered knowing that these thoughts and feelings are experienced by other people, and I knew I had to share that feeling of empowerment by helping this script come to life. By bringing this universal, unspoken truth out of the shadows, we can reduce the shame and lighten the mental and emotional load of those who are burdened by these thoughts and feelings on a daily basis."
Lili and Carla as roommates in college. They’ve come a long way since the days of posting “inspirational” images of models in their kitchen pantry!
Why Does This Film Matter?:
It’s estimated that 1 in every 50 people have body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).(2) This means that BDD is as common or more common as other mental health disorders, such as social anxiety disorder. BDD can affect anyone at any age, but it is most prevalent among women. In addition to the emotional and mental stress caused by BDD, it’s common for individuals to experience other mental health disorders such as eating disorders and major depressive disorder.(3) The prevalence of BDD is likely underestimated because many people never seek professional help for their symptoms.(2) BDD is underdiagnosed and understudied, BUT--it is treatable.
As depicted in this film, healing a disordered relationship with your body won’t happen overnight, but awareness of your own thought patterns and behaviors can be a first step. We hope that this film inspires others to examine how they think about their bodies and talk to someone if they think they might have BDD. We also hope our audience begins to critique how they might be perpetuating society’s body ideals and diet culture in how they talk about and relate to their own bodies and the bodies of others.
This is the key takeaway from our film, and also a great place to start in healing a disordered body relationship. Loving yourself can be hard sometimes, so remember--just don’t be a dick to yourself.
Image source: https://www.instagram.com/lucymountain/
Why An All-Female Crew?
The relationship most women have with their bodies is nuanced and full of internal struggle that may not appear particularly cinematic on the outside. Many popular films that depict body image disorders focus on the outward effects and the impacts on physical health, rather than the mental toll it takes when you’re constantly forced to think about how you can make your body palatable to a society that has unforgiving expectations of your appearance and how it relates to your worth.
We knew that in order to capture the familiar look of the daily struggle of self-love, we needed a team who has been plagued with these thoughts, feelings, and societal pressures, which is why we have brought on an amazing team of women to tell this story.
To meet our talented creative team, check out the intro video under the Media tab!
What Comes Next?:
After (hopefully!) raising enough money to fund our production costs, we will finish pre-production. This includes choreography and rehearsals, composing the score, casting movers for the dance sequence, and coordinating the fun production logistics like permits.
Next, we will shoot the film over two days in early September in Queens, New York. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are hiring a COVID compliance officer to be present on set and make sure that everyone is safe and healthy leading up to and during filming.
After we finish filming, our editor and sound mixer will get to work putting it all together. Finally, we plan to submit the finished film to a variety of festivals that focus on shorts, stories by and about women, and stories about mental health. Distribution plans are still up in the air, but anyone following this page will get updates as we know them.
How Can You Help?:
We believe that when you want to work with women or anyone else who is underrepresented in the film industry, you need to pay them what they’re worth! We’re fundraising to not only bring our audience a high-quality film, but also to financially support every person who works on it.
CONTRIBUTE: A financial contribution to our film will go 100% towards production and post-production costs. This includes salaries, equipment, locations, and everything else that will go into making The Appraiser an incredible film.
FOLLOW: on Seed & Spark, more followers means more filmmaker support from this platform. That means the more people that follow our journey on Seed & Spark by signing up as a follower, the more perks we unlock to help us make this movie!
SHARE: Getting the word out and helping us build our audience is just as important as making a financial contribution! If the themes of our film speak to you, please share this page and our social accounts with your community. To make it easy for you, here is some text you can copy and paste to your social accounts to spread the word:
Twitter: Help support an independent film made by an all women team by contributing to @AppraiserFilm on @seedandspark! Join them here: www.seedandspark.com/fund/the-appraiser
Instagram & Facebook: Help support an independent film made by an all women team by contributing to @seedandspark! Join them here: www.seedandspark.com/fund/the-appraiser
Thank you for being here!
- Phillips, K. A. (2021b, March 16). Who Gets BDD? International OCD Foundation. https://bdd.iocdf.org/about-bdd/who-gets/
- Phillips, K. A. (2021, January 28). What is BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder)? International OCD Foundation. https://bdd.iocdf.org/about-bdd/
- Hart, A. S. (2017, June). Comorbidity and Personality in Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Oxford University Press. https://oxfordmedicine.com/view/10.1093/med/9780190254131.001.0001/med-9780190254131-chapter-11#:%7E:text=Comorbidity%20is%20common%20in%20body,co%2Doccurring%20Axis%20I%20conditions.
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About This Team
We are an all-women team made up of creative professionals (mostly!) from NYC. While a few of us have met in person, we have been working remotely through the pandemic to get this film off the ground. Please contribute to our campaign so we can all meet each other in person!