“Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) evolved from the “Day of Unity” held in October 1981 and conceived by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The intent was to connect advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children. In October 1987, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed. That same year marks the initiation of the first national domestic violence toll-free hotline. In 1989, the U.S. Congress passed Public Law 101-112 designating October of that year as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Each year, the Day of Unity is celebrated the first Monday of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
—Adapted from the 1996 Domestic Violence Awareness Month Resource Manual of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence”
I had no idea what to expect when I sat back into my theater seat and waited as the lights began to dim to complete darkness. Brightness illuminated from the screen and like everyone else in the theater, I felt as if I was peeping into the life of a teenager, Amber, as she laid in bed only to be awakened by a phone call from her best friend James. She was pretty with long curly hair and a beautiful smile. Young and full of life, you watched as her decisions quickly transitioned.
Without giving the film away to you, I will admit once it was over, I sat in disbelief wondering what happened…why…how….I was left with question after question unanswered, in a good way. This film will have you reach out to your young cousin and advocate over and over about domestic violence and how to recognize the behaviors of the aggressor.”Dear Amber,” placed into the forefront a situation we tend to overlook but its realness does exist. Teenagers face domestic violence just as much as adults and the sad part about it all is the fact that very little knowledge of when they’re actually in an abusive relationship. “No one loves you as much as I do,” were the familiar words that cast member “Rodney,” would state over and over.
This film touched on everything from the possibility of male-female platonic friendships to the dangers of not getting out of an abusive relationship earlier enough. What a lot of people may not understand is that even though we focus on these types of issues within adult relationships, they are not the only ones who go through it. Tiara chose not to stick to the normal script where domestic abuse relationships would feature two adults – she decided to shed more light on serious matters that young teenagers could and are possibly facing now.
“Situations like this are not really talked about…it is with adults but not with teenagers. People do not understand that domestic violence is domestic violence – it does not matter what age you are and it is sad because a lot of younger teens that go through this are overlooked because of their age…almost like, it is what it is.”
You would think in order to get a film like this up and running, maybe a year and a half at the minimum. Keep in mind, you have to write the script which depending on how much free time you have available if you’re also working full-time outside of your craft, your writing time may be limited. Okay so now that you have the script written, it has to be looked over by eyes that do not belong to you (we call this table reading), to make sure it has a smooth flow.
This cannot be done in just one sitting – this could take maybe a week or two depending on how often your team meets (my team specializes in taking care of all the hard work for you in order to make this part one less headache of your own). The script is finalized and now it’s on to casting – you have to find THE RIGHT CREW or everything you’ve invested in, will go right down the drain. Now that your cast is all figured out, there’s time to start filming. AND LET’s NOT FORGET – we’re going off of the availability of everyone who is a part of the project!
“When we first started with this film, there were a lot of things that was trying to get in the way and even though to those viewing it only seemed like twenty minutes, to the crew, it felt more like a year.”
Selecting the right cast to make one of your vision’s come true has been known to be the hardest part of the film industry. Even as a writer, I too find it difficult to rely on others to word my thoughts in a way where I’m finally comfortable with the outcome. So for Tiara, some of the smallest vibes and looks stood out to her the most.
Acting or Directing? Which one do you think she leaned more towards? Before I answer the question, I must say, that has to be one of the hardest things to really choose from if you are capable of doing them both. You have some actors who want nothing more than to stand in front of the camera and allow their personality to shine through. And on the opposite hand, you have others who honestly just want to call the shots from behind the lens. For Tiara, her passion was for both with no divider as she informed me she loved the both of them equally the same.
“I started being behind the camera because I wasn’t getting a lot of acting gigs so I was like, ‘I’m going to start doing my own thing.’ I just didn’t think that I would fall in love with it as much as I do. So if it came down to me having to pick, I really don’t know – I love them both honestly.”
When asked about any upcoming projects Tiara may have brewing, she mentioned a micro-short film (typically three minutes long) as well as a documentary about foster care seeing how she grew up as a foster child herself. To stay up to date with what Tiara West has going on along with the rest of the cast, please make sure to follow them:
@OfficialAshleyHarperNC [Amber’s Mom]
@I_Am_KennediAmaya //FB: HelloKennedi [Little Amber]
@Robiiiworld [Film Editor]
@ColbieDopeAF [Film Assistant]
If you or someone you know is currently in a relationship with domestic abuse, please do not stick around and hope that they will change. It does not always have to resort in physical harm in order for it to be considered dangerous. Consult with friends, family or anyone who may be willing to help but please get yourself as far away from the aggressor as possible.
To learn about ways you can help or be helped, visit www.thehotline.org or call 1−800−799−7233
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-The Fire Jayde