Special to Iredell Free News
For Screenwriter Jason Keating and Director Bishen Sen, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is personal.
Both men have been diagnosed with the condition, and that has fueled a special connection with their current project, a short film titled “The Grief Counselor,” which will be filmed in and around Statesville this fall.
Keating, a Statesville resident who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, originally wrote the screenplay for the film as the story of a male veteran suffering from PTSD.
“It was very much me,” he said.
He then decided to reach out to Sen — a connection he met at Statesville’s Full Bloom Film Festival – and the two worked together to tell the story through a different lens.
“The statistics in the world of PTSD and women were eye-opening,” Keating said. “But most of the film projects we came across were from the male perspective. We realized there was a deeper message that could be told if we changed it to a female veteran.”
According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, research has shown women are more than twice as likely as men to experience PTSD, and it can take much longer for women to be diagnosed than men. At particular risk for PTSD are veterans, with 14 percent of those returning from recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan being diagnosed.
The short film will tell the story of April, an Army veteran juggling life as a grief counselor while dealing with her PTSD and vices and reconciling a relationship with her husband. Keating said his and Sen’s personal experiences with PTSD have made the project even more impactful.
“It’s a story we both can relate to and feel it needs to be told,” he said.
During the Full Bloom Film Festival, which is scheduled for September 8-10 in Downtown Statesville, Keating and others from “The Grief Counselor” will hold a roundtable session to discuss various aspects of the filmmaking process. The session will be held at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 10.
“If we can inspire an up-and-coming filmmaker that would be a win. It would awesome if there was an investor who would like to help fund the film,” he said, adding that they are also ready to begin scouting film locations in Statesville and crowd-funding to help cover expenses. The film will bring approximately eight cast members and 10 crew members to Statesville for the filming.
Keating hopes that the film will be ready to submit and be shown during the 2023 film festival, which would be a full-circle moment from when he attended and first met Sen.
“The film festival kind of ignited my plans to write and produce films,” he said.
To purchase tickets to the Full Bloom Film Festival and view a schedule of events, visit https://www.fullbloomfilmfestival.org/