“Cassidy McMillan is an award-winning Filmmaker/Actress, Speaker and Advocate, and is the Director/Producer/Writer of the acclaimed Documentary Film on bullying, girl bullying and bullycide, Bullies and Friends.
Cassidy’s an Actress in Film, TV, Voice-Overs, Commercials, Theater; and Member of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of TV & Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA).
For the feature length documentary film Bullies and Friends, she conducted extensive research on bullying, relational aggression and bullycide throughout North America, where she worked with hundreds of educators, thousands of students, parents, counselors, medical professionals, legal system officials.
Through her advocacy work and research on bullying/bullycide (youth suicide) prevention and mental health, Cassidy’s become a recognized Expert/Speaker on bullying, girl bullying, bullycide, relational aggression, and legal aspects within the juvenile justice system regarding bullying.
Some of the awards Cassidy has received include: Women In Film Foundation Award; Walt Disney Company’s Partners In Excellence Award; United Nations UNA USA Impact Film Award; Inanna Filmmaker Humanitarian Award; Cine’s Social Awareness Award; Inanna Best Documentary Film Award
Cassidy was honored with being Named in the Official Proclamation of Bullying Awareness Day in Portland, Maine by the Mayor of Portland, Maine and Maine Governor’s Office.
With her acting/film work, Ms. McMillan has acted in/worked behind the scenes for Film/TV including AMC, Fox, Discovery ID, NBC, CBS, 20th Century Fox, Disney. Theater acting includes lead roles in plays/musicals including:
“Noises Off!”, “Oliver”, “Good Morning Miss Vickers”, “Annie”, “Bang Bang You’re Dead”; “Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”.
She’s the President of McMillan FilmWorks, an independent film production company in southern California which works to produce projects that shine a spotlight on social causes, animal rights, the environment” (www.CassidyMcMillan.com).
Please tell readers how your award-winning documentary on bullying came about and where and when it can be seen.
Bullies and Friends Documentary Film came about when I saw an episode of the “Oprah” Winfrey Show. On the episode was the mom of a 14-year-old girl who had committed suicide due to being bullied by three girls at her high school. In the girl’s suicide note she named the three girls, one of whom was the daughter of a prominent police officer in the town the incident occurred. The suicide caused an investigation that led to a precedent setting court case, in which for the first time in North America, teen girls were made to stand trial for bullying.
I was horrified to learn that a so full of life young person had taken their life due to bullying. Being a filmmaker/actress who works on causes, I was compelled to take action.
I wanted to make a difference through the work of film in the hopes of preventing another boy or girl from taking their life due to bullying. I reached out to the girl’s mom. Both she and I felt that sharing her daughter’s story could help other kids and families and prevent future suicides.
I set out in making this film, and self-funded the original filming and production because I believed so strongly in the cause. I directed, produced and wrote the Film and have a great film team on this independent film with an important cause of bullying and bullycide prevention.
As we started filming and then while in post-production, requests for the film started pouring in from schools in over 14 countries. We started doing focus group screenings of the film with students/teachers/parents at events and schools across the U.S. and I did speaking engagements at those events, schools requesting me to talk to audiences on bullying and bullying prevention.
“Bullies and Friends” has now started a movement in the bullying prevention cause. Due to the tremendous grass roots campaign, word of mouth from schools and audiences, we are thrilled and honored that the feature film has now been selected for worldwide distribution with a major distribution company!
This is an amazing accomplishment because only a small percentage of independent films get chosen for distribution with a distribution company!
With distribution though, the distribution company doesn’t cover the many costs needed to prepare a feature length film for worldwide release including technical prep for the multi-platforms of distribution: TV broadcast; Video on Demand; iTunes, Netflix; or FCC federal requirements such as Closed-Captioning; etc.
To raise the funds to get this important film that’s been called “lifesaving” to schools and audiences in releasing it worldwide, the Film has launched an important fundraising campaign on the global Crowdfunding Site Indiegogo at our Campaign Page:
It’s a great opportunity for everyone across the globe to be part of a feature film already slated for worldwide release that makes an important difference!
Everyone who contributes receives great Gift Perks/Rewards at every level of donation!
- having their name listed in the film’s credits
- pre-ordering the Film’s DVD for when the film is released on Home Video where they’ll be among the first to receive it!
- “Official Film Crew” T-Shirts designed for this Limited Time Campaign
- School Skype Event/Town Hall Discussions on Bullying
- Being an Associate Producer or Co-Executive Producer of the feature film! And, much more.
We’re thrilled to have great companies who are stepping forward to assist our film and its bullying prevention movement.
Including Warner/Chappell Records and the Multi-Platinum hit rock band Simple Plan who contributed one of their hit songs they wrote and recorded on one of their hit albums to “Bullies and Friends” Film. Simple Plan spoke out on bullying and the incident documented in our film and we appreciate them donating their song to our Film and its Cause!
(you can find their music on iTunes – we encourage everyone to check out them out- we appreciate their support!)
It is both a great cause and opportunity. Plus, I love Simple Plan’s music! So, how do you define bullycide? And, why was the ‘Precedent Setting Bullycide Court Case in North America’ so important?
Because of the tragic fact that kids/teens committing suicide due to bullying has become a growing epidemic, the word “bullycide” was coined (I’m not sure from where in media). “Bullycide” is the term used to describe when a child/teen commits suicide due to bullying.
The bullycide case we document in the film is important because the court case set a legal precedent. So in other words, it opened the doors within the legal system for teens being able to be arrested for, and stand trial for bullying actions. For teens to be held accountable for those actions, and for adults to recognize this destructive bullying behavior is actually criminal harassment.
An alarming fact is that the Centers for Disease Control now states: “Suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth ages 10-24.”
Too many children and one child is too many – have taken their life due to bullying. We must all as a society work to change this.
Our Film Bullies and Friends provides solutions to bullying, and gives information and hope.
The thousands of students across the U.S. who’ve previewed our film have said Bullies And Friends validates what they’re going through, as well as the film lets them know help is out there, and how bullying can be prevented and stopped.
I love that you don’t just present the problems without offering tangible solutions. Please tell readers some of the solutions that your film offers?
Bullies and Friends offers Solutions to Bullying for kids, parents, schools and communities—This was a requirement I wanted for the Film. It was important to me that kids, parents, educators after watching the film, have the knowledge, solutions and ideas on how bullying can be prevented, warning signs to look for, and for kids to know what they can do to prevent bullying.
One of those key things kids learn from the film is how important it is for them to be an “upstander” where they step in and stop bullying or report it to a trusted adult, instead of being a “bystander” and observing or contributing to the bullying actions of others. The film tells and shows how.
Kids need to feel empowered to do so, and this film empowers kids with the information and guidance on how they can stop bullying.
The response has been amazing and we’re honored with the awards we have won including Bullies and Friends receiving the Impact Film Award by the United Nations UNA Association.
Bullies and Friends provides the knowledge and ways kids can prevent and stop bullying. Whether the student who sees the film is a target of bullying, is a bystander to bullying, or the person committing bullying – the film speaks to all of these kids and all of these situations, and provides solutions in a way kids can relate to.
Some of the solutions in the film come from teens involved directly in the bullying that occurred, including the main teen girl brought to trial for bullying.
Her interview is compelling, poignant and all students who see it are affected by her brave and candid interview. During the trial, some people in her town, and throughout the globe labeled this teen girl a bully. I work to tell schools, parents not to put a label on kids. This girl wasn’t a bully, she was a teen who got involved in a situation over her head, took wrong actions, and regrets those actions.
Bullies and Friends delves below the surface of the story, and this girl, who, although acquitted of the charges in court, talks of the guilt she will always feel. And, a thing that’s very important – she tells kids things they can do, right now, to prevent bullying.
Also in the film we have noted educational experts/authors who provide important information to schools, parents, and kids on bullying, how we can help stop peer cruelty, and teach kids empathy and responsibility.
“Bullies And Friends” also features the exclusive interview with the Court Judge who presided over and handed down the precedent setting ruling in this highly controversial court case.
The Judge granted her only on-camera sit down interview for our Film. In my interview with her, the Judge’s insight into the case is invaluable.
The Judge provides specific information to kids, parents, teachers, and legal system officials regarding bullying, threats, laws pertaining to the incidents that occurred, her precedent setting decision and how these laws apply to future bullying incidents.
She also shares a personal and candid story of how when she was a teen in high school, she witnessed a bullying incident where some girls were going to potentially beat up another girl. She tells of the actions she took as a student to intervene and the result. This personal story from the Judge resonates with every audience member.
Regarding suicide, it devastates families, and impacts entire communities.
We present warning signs in the film, and provide a deeper understanding of the bullycide epidemic.
One child’s death affects us all, in a profound way. We don’t know who that child would have grown up to become. Maybe they would have been the person to marry your son or daughter. Or been the person to discover a cure for cancer; become a musician, a dancer, an athlete, government leader, or a veterinarian who helped save your pet’s life, or a paramedic who saved yours.
Bullies and Friends is working to help end these suicides.
And we’re working to and hope the global community will help us get to the finish line so we can get this film to schools and families worldwide.
I certainly hope you get there, too! Did you ever feel overwhelmed with having to wear so many different hats (as interviewer, director, producer, et cetera)?
During the filmmaking process, I never felt overwhelmed in directing, producing, writing the film… and conducting the interviews! Telling a meaningful story and working to help others inspires me.
Although I love acting work I do in TV, Film, Theater, and am proud to be part of that collective group of artistry as an actress, being a Member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA), there is something especially inspiring in being able to shape a story as a Film Director.
As a Film Director though, you have a deep feeling of responsibility to “get it right”, to make a difference. At times, the weight of the responsibility follows you because everyone else on the production looks to you for the answers and as the director you build the foundation for everyone who comes on board with the project to stand on.
Sometimes that weight of responsibility can hit you at 3 a.m.when you’re looking to make sure everything is taken care of, but as a Director, I have a goal and vision for a project, and I just focus on that.
As long as I have the tools and resources I need as a director, producer, I love the work that I do to create something that can help others.
The difficult part comes in with things beyond your control– the business side of filmmaking. Such as right now, where the film needs to raise the funds to get it to distribution. If you have a studio producing a film from the outset it is less stressful, but for all independent filmmakers there are many challenges on the funding side.
As has been mentioned in other interviews, I self-funded the pre-production/ filming production by the sale of my house, utilizing savings, business loans, grants, paychecks, to cover the costs, equipment, film crew payroll because I believed so strongly the film would have the enormous positive effect it is already having. I feel one can’t put a price on trying to save a life…
When several students have confided at some preview screenings that prior to seeing the film they had been thinking of committing suicide because of bullying they were going through; and then said that after seeing our film, they saw the devastation their death would cause, saw someone cared, and said they’d now seek help instead –That to me has made the journey in making Bullies and Friends more than worth it.
I and my film team are now having faith that the global community will step forward, whether companies or individuals, and contribute to our crowdfunding fundraiser to get Bullies and Friends delivered to the distribution company standing by waiting to release it worldwide!
Truly amazing the positive impact it’s already had and is making…Now, from following your Twitter page at https://twitter.com/CassidyMcM, I’ve discovered that you and I share a love of canines! In fact, animals in general. Please share your thoughts on animal rights/protection?
And do you think that BSL and/or speciesism is a form of bullying, too?
I think all animals: (to list a few) dogs, cats, horses, dolphins, cows, tigers, elephants, rabbits, pigs, deer, giraffes, wolves, rhinos, bears, zebras, whales, ducks — So get from this I mean all animals —are born with compassion, intelligence, empathy and have an innocence and kindness that is beyond the human condition.
Unfortunately, not all human beings are as caring as animals. A recent study found that elephants have a certain warning call they relay to each other for the presence of humans. Wow. This is a sad reflection on humans that elephants are so frightened of people they now have a specific warning cry. Elephants most likely have this due to the thousands of elephants being hunted and brutally murdered by horribly violent people.
Thankfully, there are well known leaders like Prince William who are stepping forward to work to protect animals like elephants, etc., and there are many great and caring people who aren’t as well known and caring organizations like ASPCA, Humane Society, Animal Place, the Animal Legal Defense Fund who are working to protect elephants and all animals, and great people who volunteer at shelters and work to get cats and dogs who need families adopted.
I’ve had some amazing learning experiences including swimming near dolphins in the ocean, and interacting with one. Dolphins are friendly, caring, playful and kind. Another was when I was able to hand feed a giraffe some tree branches full of leaves -which the giraffe was eager to eat! The giraffe was graceful, elegant, gentle, as he took care while eating branch after branch from my hand not to harm me due to obviously I’m a lot smaller than him! These impactful experiences showed me what kind, thoughtful beings animals are.
On BSL and how some humans bully animals — No animal would do to humans what some people do to animals – of which I’m speaking about people who capture, imprison, abuse, kill animals. It’s wrong, disturbing and inhumane.
I’m a passionate advocate for animal rights and human rights. No animal or human should be hunted, caged, tortured and killed.
Regarding our canine friends and BSL: I feel BSL is absolutely bullying (at minimum). At worst, it’s excused murder.
“Breed specific legislation” is a term that morally bankrupt, misguided people came up with to further a cruel and hateful agenda out of fear and ignorance. The term actually just means legislated murder and/or legislated discrimination.
It’s unsettling some humans think we get to decide what animal should be “allowed” to live or exist. The discrimination and murder of animals based on an animals’ ethnicity or what an animal looks like - or what breed a human says that animal is – such as with “BSL” is deeply troubling.
For those who aren’t familiar, BSL is a “policy” in Canada, Ireland, U.S. and elsewhere in which people in some government group decides they can fine you for having a dog, not allow you and your dog to live in a certain are, and in worst cases, take your family’s dog, imprison him/her and ultimately murder your dog- “man’s” best friend.
We all must work as a society to remove these types of discriminatory practices. It can be changed.
Many are working within the legal system to repeal these discriminatory “laws”. Most of the court actions that challenge “bsl” discrimination focus on constitutional issues like equal protection, and vagueness.
There was the globally known incident of “bel” which gained worldwide attention the past few years- the story of the sweet, kind, little dog named Lennox.
Lennox, unfortunately, was born in Belfast, Ireland. Lennox had a family who loved him and whom he loved. His best friend was the family’s daughter, a little girl with special needs whom Lennox watched over, snuggled with and looked out for.
But in Belfast, Ireland, the people who are on a city council decided amongst themselves one day that a dog who “looks like” a “pit bull” or certain “terrier” or a dog who happens to be born “pit bull” should be kidnapped by force from families’ homes, made to sit in squalor and filth in a cold, cement type of cell, and then executed by whatever means they choose – gassing them, shooting them, injecting them, etc.
This may be difficult to read but it’s important for people to know what’s going on in our society so we can work to change it. This discrimination/bullying is among the most cruel, and has many implications. That this type of discrimination and murder is allowed-which in my opinion are criminal acts- defies comprehension.
All of us in society need to repeal “bsl” and any other frightening policy that gives someone the right to murder another. We as a society must ensure there are protective laws making sure that no human or animal being can be discriminated against; tortured and killed because of ethnicity, what they look like, or discriminated against for any other reason.
The little girl who was Lennox’s best friend has to live with the knowledge the rest of her life that people barged into her family’s home, and despite her mother and father’s cries not to capture and remove their family member named Lennox, a peaceful, quiet dog who never did anyone harm, was chained, dragged out and placed in a concrete slab cell and killed after two years of imprisonment.
It saddens me beyond words that Lennox was frightened and wondering as he sat in dirt, cold, chained, in a concrete dark cell for two years why he was captured; where his family and best friend was, and why he was made to suffer.
It was shocking how this city council was allowed to operate like this and still is as of this moment.
With this incident, well known people including Victoria Stilwell of TV’s Animal Planet Channel, flew to Belfast to provide her own personal transport of Lennox to the U.S. and known “dog whisperer” Cesar Millan offered to assist and get Lennox from Ireland to the U.S.; legendary boxer Lennox Lewis offered support for the gentle dog who had his name. But the Belfast council refused and after imprisoning Lennox for years in an “undisclosed” location cell, killed him. For more on the true story one can read one of the CNN reports on it, and various other media including links below. This 2 year incident captured hearts and started petitions across the globe. http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/11/world/europe/nireland-dog-death-sentence/
I speak on this so strongly because we all need to act to remove these types of horrific policies. As I speak out on bullying prevention – it includes bullying prevention for anyone among us, whether animal or human being.
If we, as a society, discriminate against an animal being’s ethnicity, it is not a far connection to make that it can give way to discrimination of a human being’s ethnicity. And to discriminate against animal beings or human beings is wrong. We’ve seen in human history the horror discrimination can lead to.
I hope it answered your question- and I apologize for the lengthy reply – but in talking about saving lives – it is too important to be brief.
I couldn’t agree more. Great answers! Thank you for the enlightened responses. Switching gears, what other projects are on the horizon?
On to a lighter question!
Yes, but I’m so glad we’ve touched on what we have! As a vegetarian (for over 7 years now for ethical reasons)/aspiring vegan, obviously animal rights are important to me, too! And, I loathe discrimination of any kind.
For right now, the Documentary Film Bullies and Friends and its important fundraising campaign on Indiegogo, and then our work to be able to get the film to the distribution company so the film can be distributed to schools and audiences worldwide to aid in bullying prevention is my and the film team’s focus.
We invite everyone to support and be a part of the amazing journey of Bullies and Friends, and its Bullying Prevention Movement at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/bullies-and-friends and www.BulliesandFriends.com
I’m also very much looking to free up some time now and more time once the film is on its way, to get back to doing more Acting work in Film, TV, and Theater!
Additionally, I’m continuing to do my speaking work on bullying prevention, and my team and I are working on the development of Narrative Feature Film Screenplays, and Documentary Films that focus on important issues and make a positive difference for people, animals and the environment.
Our independent film company always welcomes collaborations for meaningful projects!
Truly great to know! Where can readers go to connect with you and your wonderful work? (social networking sites, etc.)
www.BulliesAndFriends.com Official Film Site with film trailer, campaign video – and information upcoming on our Bullying Prevention Outreach Tour
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/bullies-and-friends Official Campaign Page where everyone across the globe can be directly Involved with the Film, its Bullying Prevention Movement and Youth Suicide Prevention cause.
www.CassidyMcMillan.com Info on my Acting/Film work; Speaking Engagements
Like Film at: www.facebook.com/BulliesAndFriendsFilm
Follow Film: www.twitter.com/BulliesnFriends
Can chat with me on twitter: www.twitter.com/CassidyMcM
For more information Info@BulliesandFriends.com
Photo Credit: Nancy Jo Gilchrist