CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- The Public Service Announcement (PSA) made audiences squirm in their seats -- and that was the point.
"We've screened it in our little classroom,” Clover Hill High School teacher Amanda Berneche said, “but when it was a group of people, their faces were like... ‘Oh, my gosh!’"
The State Champion First Place PSA at this year’s Virginia High School League Film Festival was the brainchild of graduating Clover Hill senior Carson McGregor.
"That's kind of what we're looking for, discomfort more than anything else," Carson said. "If you watch this and you feel a little bit squeamish about it, that's exactly the point."
It was also an uncomfortable shoot for the PSA’s actress, rising 10th grader Kalina Theo.
"It was really tough," Kalina said. "I just had to imagine how awful it must have been and how trapped you are. And it was very hard to get into a character like that."
Kalina's character was a victim of domestic abuse.
What made Carson's vision and execution even more impressive was that he worked on the film after the Clover Hill film program was cut due to money and scheduling problems.
While Carson admitted it was nice to win an award, his ultimate goal was that the PSA helped abuse victims find the courage to seek help.
“When it comes to a subject like that, it's far more important to be hard hitting and for it to mean something."
Building awareness is Building Better Minds.