Tina Tieu is a 16-year-old who is passionate about social justice. Her experience living with her own diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder has made her a vocal advocate of the mental health community. In a step to end the stigma surrounding mental illness, Tina is making the documentary film ‘Keep in Mind’, which chronicles the lives of 5 adolescents of color living with mental illness. To do this Tina has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds needed to complete the film.
The idea for the documentary came to Tina when she noticed the way media has and continues to depict neuroatypicals. “Few films exist, which display what living with mental illness is like. I want to document stories that do not strip away from the integrity of the human soul.”
Over the past year, the young filmmaker has been devoting much of her time to planning, seeking participants, working on her videography skills and finding ways to fund the film. While there have been many challenges along the way, Tina tells WYSK it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of her young life.
“This has been a very difficult process, one in which I have encountered many obstacles. However, I persisted because I feel a moral responsibility to create this film and I unquestionably intend to execute it to fruition. Being able to create this film allows me to contribute my voice and make a lasting difference in the world.”
We are incredibly blown away by this young woman, so we caught up with her between classes and filmmaking to get to know more about her passion for film and this powerful documentary…
When did you become interested in film?
I grew up spending all my time watching television. It was through TV shows and films that exposed me to different things. I loved the escape from reality and journey into fiction. However, I really began appreciating film in middle school, which was when I discovered indie films. There was something enigmatic about the genre’s aesthetic that taught me to appreciate the details of film as an art form.
Before taking on filmmaking, did you explore other art forms to tell your story?
I had sought out any form of art that pertained to mental illness. Poetry, TedTalks, doodles, and etc helped me cope, however I was unhappy with the lack of visibility mental illness had in the film industry. Art was how I realized other people like me existed, but I didn’t feel like there was a space for that realization in the film world. Through that absence, I came up with the concept for my film. The message and the medium were always integral to one another.
Is ‘Keep in Mind’ a school project or a personal, passion project?
This is a personal project. That’s the beautiful and simultaneously terrifying part of it. I am so dedicated to something that nobody asked for, nobody is waiting for, and something that people may or may not like. As an artist, irrationality comes with the creative territory. Your work won’t always make sense but it should always make you feel alive.
What are your future plans?
My goal is to attend Soka University and major in liberal arts. I intend to continue pursuing film and photography in my studies. At Soka, I have the ability to create documentaries and short videos for research seminars. I also want to make videos on Youtube.
Tina’s Keep In Mind campaign recently launched on our sister-brand, the crowdfunding platform, Women You Should Fund. While the campaign has already raised more than 50% of its fundraising goal, it needs to raise 100% to be successful. Check out the unique rewards being offered to backers including inspiring artwork, limited edition t-shirts, DVDs and more. Let’s help this social justice warrior produce her powerful documentary. We’re in this together… let’s fund her!