Orange County Films

Directing Change is an evaluated suicide prevention and mental health program with the mission to educate young people about critical health topics through art and promote social justice and health by changing conversations in schools and communities.
Suicide Prevention

That’s What Friends Are For

First Place Regional - Suicide Prevention
2023
Artist: Marleen Juarez, Pauline Nguyen, and Mahi Thakkar
Orange County
Grade: 10
Advisor: Megan Humphreys
A supportive friend reaches out to a girl who shows the warning signs of suicide, and goes to a school counselor with her.

The Note

Honorable Mention - Suicide Prevention
2023
Artist: Julian Bautista, Makala Jones, and Mikaela Deveroux
Orange County
Grade: 9
Advisor: Mark Switzer
A film that shows that those who are considering suicide may mask their feelings in front of others and the importance of reaching out to someone who is struggling, even if it may be a difficult conversation to start.

Piece by Piece

Honorable Mention - Suicide Prevention
2023
Artist: Hailey Zuniga, Kellan Nguyen, and Teresa Le
Orange County
Grade: 11
Advisor: Amanda LaPera
A girl's bracelet, which represents her mental health, breaks apart, but a friend steps in to support her.

Share the Weight

Honorable Mention - Suicide Prevention
2023
Artist: Jack Bush and Evan Neylan
Orange County
Grade: 11
Advisor: Mark Switzer
A film that shows the isolation and stress youth can feel as a result of family turmoil, and encourages reaching out to a friend and calling or texting a crisis hotline.

Speak Up.

Honorable Mention - Suicide Prevention
2023
Artist: Autumn Treister, Makaela Moore, and Reilly Zabala
Orange County
Grade: 9
Advisor: Mark Switzer
A girl who is having suicidal thoughts tells her best friend, who decides to go to a trusted adult which ends up saving her friend's life.

Heavy Weight

Honorable Mention - Suicide Prevention
2023
Artist: Moses Fleischman, David Du, Yonatan Marian, Shane Plourde, Ramone Hamilton, and Quentin Marino
Orange County
Grade: 11
Advisor: Martin Stibolt
A friend reaches out and asks a youth directly if he is thinking about suicide and then helps him move the weight he carries, which represents suicidal thoughts.

A Call to Macy

First Place Regional - Suicide Prevention
2022
Artist: Grace Shao, Elena Kim, Cecilia Mou, and Shailee Sankhala
Orange County
Grade: 12
Portola High School
Advisor: Ryan Itchon
A concerned friend reaches out though the phone to let her friend know she’s noticed her changing behavior and wonders if she’s thinking about suicide.

Suicide Prevention

Second Place Regional - Suicide Prevention
2022
Artist: Fatima Mendez
Orange County
Grade: 12
Santiago High School
Advisor: Tina Heiland
A girl notices signs of self harm in her best friend, and alerts a trusted adult to get him help.

One Call Away

Third Place Regional (TIED) - Suicide Prevention
2022
Artist: Jessica Ramirez, Pauline Nguyen, and Marleen Juarez
Orange County
Grade: 12
Woodbridge High School
Advisor: Megan Humphreys
A girl texts her friend to say goodbye, but her friend urges her to seek help and give resources.

Crowd Noises

Third Place Regional (TIED) - Suicide Prevention
2022
Artist: Stella Nguyen, An Nguyen, Athena Nguyen, Caterina Nguyen, and Sydney Hoang Dao
Orange County
Grade: 12
La Quinta High School
Advisor: Amanda LaPera
A girl feels invisible and hopeless, then a friend reaches out and lets her know she is not alone

Quaranteens

Third Place Statewide- Suicide Prevention
2020
Artist: Brooke Brody, Ashna Parekh, Katie Kim, Daisy Bateman
Orange County
Grade: 10
Woodbridge High School
Advisor: Megan Humphreys
A film about how social distancing affects our mental health and the importance of reaching out.

Imagine

2020
Artist: Taylor Rogers
Orange County
Canyon High School
Advisor: Alex Graham
A film that encourages the viewer to have hope for the future and to reach out when they are struggling.
Mental Health Matters

The Helper

Honorable Mention - Mental Health
2023
Artist: Hope Wellikson, Ellie Irianto, Angie Baik, Jay Han, Isaac Kim, Cadence Yip, and Lana Alsamawi
Orange County
Grade: 12
Advisor: Elizabeth Keller
A student checks in on a friend she's concerned about and offers help, and then connects her friend to counseling.

The Promise

Honorable Mention - Mental Health
2023
Artist: Tyler Song and Mia Hester
Orange County
Grade: 9
Advisor: Mark Switzer
A student texts another to voice their concerns, and the recipient student decides to reach out to a trusted adult.

Sensory Overload

First Place Regional - Mental Health
2023
Artist: Moses Fleischman, Alex Lu, and Harrison Roberts-Dahlgren
Orange County
Grade: 11
Advisor: Hali Kessler
A film depicting how sensory issues can impact day to day life and how to be a supportive friend to someone who is struggling.

Starting Line

Honorable Mention - Mental Health
2023
Artist: Jaden Men, Ivan Chang, and Jordan Haddadin
Orange County
Grade: 12
Advisor: Alex Graham
A film about running as a metaphor for mental health, showing that having friends' support helps in the mental health journey.

Always There

Second Place Regional - Mental Health
2023
Artist: Bryant Saban, Brianna Ramirez, and Maryam Jalali
Orange County
Grade: 11
Advisor: Elizabeth Keller and Rebeccah Phillips
A youth struggling with their mental health seeks out help from a crisis line.

End The Stigma

Honorable Mention - Mental Health
2023
Artist: Peyton Hoffman
Orange County
Grade: 11
Advisor: Alex Graham
A youth explains how how anxiety can take on any forms and provides education about how anxiety works.

Lost in Thought

Honorable Mention - Mental Health
2023
Artist: Orbal Farhad, Kevin Nguyen, Audrey Quynh-An Pham, and Ethan Ho
Orange County
Grade: 11
Advisor: Amanda LaPera
"Lost in Thought" is a short film that follows the story of a girl who uses earbuds to block out the noise of her parent's constant fighting. Our short film highlights the importance of communication and connection in a technology-forward age."

Nothing To Be Ashamed Of

Third Place Regional (TIED) - Mental Health
2023
Artist: Katelyn Goonertane
Orange County
Grade: 9
Advisor: Alex Graham
An animation about stigma around mental illness, how to reach out for support, and living in unision with mental health issues.

The Comeback

Special Recognition - Films from a Sports Perspective
2022
Artist: Connor Ho, Julian Hahn, Sam Malo
Orange County
Grade: 11
Canyon High School
Advisor: Alex Graham
A student swimmer describes how he realizes that something feels different about his mental health. He finds support from his team, family and others to seek help for his sadness and stress.

You Never Know

Special Recognition Acting
2022
Artist: James Conlee, Dee Tran, Ruby Schultz, and Zoey Rodriguez
Orange County
Grade: 11
El Dorado High School
Advisor: Mark Switzer
While chatting with her friend, a girl opens up that she's been struggling and needs support. The film shares signs of depression and how a friend can be supportive by connecting someone who is struggling with a trusted adult and reminds viewers that you are never alone.

Alone

First Place Regional - Mental Health Matters
2022
Artist: Tahlia Pompel, Samantha Mar, Scarlett Martinez, and Caleb Lim
Orange County
Grade: 10
El Dorado High School
Advisor: Mark Switzer
A stop motion film that expolores what it's like for a girl who is living with depression.

The Anxious Mind

Second Place Regional - Mental Health Matters
2022
Artist: Victoria Faith Gomez, Alyanah Gastinell, and Julia Watson
Orange County
Grade: 11
Rosary Academy
Advisor: David Lyons
Students who participate in different clubs and activities at school show that they all experience challenges with thrie mental health at times.
Through the Lens of Culture

We Will Listen

Honorable Mention - Through the Lens of Culture
2023
Artist: Diego Garcia-Taborga, Alexander Carney, and Juan-Camacho
Orange County
Grade: 10
Advisor: Jim Stevens
A parent and youth have a dialogue in Spanish about the youth's mental health and the parent does not understand, but the film offers a positive message of support.

I See You

Second Place - Through the Lens of Culture
2023
Artist: Jenny Nguyen, Kevin Le, Jeslyn Le, Ruby Chau, and Jessica Truong
Orange County
Grade: 9
Advisor: Amanda LaPera
A first-generation Vietnamese youth feels misunderstood by his parents, but opens up to a supportive friend.

Hablar Con Confianza

Honorable Mention- SanaMente
2020
Artist: Denisse Arzate, Jesse Munoz & Valentina Torres
Orange County
Grade: 10
Samueli Academy
Advisor: Aimee Bilderback
A news announcement about the importance of talking about mental health in the Latinx community.

隠された思い (My Hidden Feelings)

First Place Statewide- Through the Lens of Culture
2016
Artist: Nicole McCready and Kana Okafuji
Orange County
Grade: 10
Canyon High School
Advisor: Alex Graham
A film that tells the story of a girl who experiences anxiety and hopelessness and finds support from a friend who reaches out to her

Why Waste Rice?”

Honorable Mention- Through the Lens of Culture Suicide Prevention
2019
Artist: Charlene Datu
Orange County
Grade: 11
Katella High School
Advisor: Jeff Numainville
I chose this category because growing up in a traditional Filipino household meant that I grew up thinking that mental illness was something that a person did to themselves. When my aunt and cousin had their psychotic episodes, my family would deem it as their fault and let it go on for too long. Through this...

Help Me to Grow

Honorable Mention- Through the Lens of Culture Suicide Prevention
2019
Artist: Tyler Vu
Orange County
Grade: 11
Canyon High School
Advisor: Alex Graham
This PSA is about a Vietnamese girl who is afraid of ruining her family name because of the emotions she has been feeling. She knows that it is not common in her culture to tell everyone about the feelings they are feeling, but she knows that family is what matters and that if she can help...

The Conversation

Honorable Mention- Through the Lens of Culture Mental Health
2019
Artist: Kayla Sosin, Jarod Hagen, Mark Conwell, and Nicholas Oftelie
Orange County
Grade: 10
Canyon High School
Advisor: Alex Graham
"The Conversation" is a film about how much communication matters in both family and language, English and Spanish.

Stigmas Around the World

2019
Artist: Laila Nahas, Jessica Ramirez, Naomi Kim, and Pauline Kim
Orange County
Grade: 11
Woodbridge High School
Advisor: Megan Humphreys
Youth from different cultures encourage others to chose empowerment over shame and break the stigmas surrounding mental illness.

When I Was Your Age

2019
Artist: Cecilia Mou, Ryne Dunman, and Shailee Sankhala
Orange County
Grade: 11
Portola High School
Advisor: Ryan Itchon
This film explores the generational and cultural differences in families perceive mental health.
SanaMente

Find Your Superpower

Honorable Mention- SanaMente
2021
Artist: Mayson Iames, Kevan Meeks, Audrey Romo, and Ashelyn Kelley
Orange County
Grade: 11
Santiago Charter Middle School
Advisor: Danny Chiang
Students help each other cope with stress by finding their strengths and getting support from trusted adults.

Salud Mental

Fourth Place- SanaMente
2019
Artist: Jaqueline Lujan, and Andrea Solis
Orange County
Grade: 10
Katella High School
Advisor: Jeff Numainville
A Latina youth shares the difficulty she and others in her community have sharing their feelings with their families. She is inspired by SanaMente, California's mental health movement, and decides to help herself and others in her community by talking openly about mental health

Primera Generacion

Honorable Mention- SanaMente
2020
Artist: Grace Feliciano
Orange County
Grade: 11
Innovation High School
Advisor: Marla del Rosario
A girl is feeling pressured and struggling with anxiety from being the first in her family to get an education. She found help on the SanaMente website. Una niña se siente presionada y esta batallando con ansiedad de ser la primera en su familia a recibir una educación. Encuentra ayuda en el sitio de SanaMente.
Animated Short

Their Room

Fifth Place - Animated Short
2023
Artist: Moses Fleischman
Orange County
Grade: 11
Advisor: Hanna Adessi
A 3d animation that takes place in one room, where narrator asks their friend directly if they are thinking of suicide.

Know Who To Lend A Hand To

Fifth Place (TIED) - Animated Short
2022
Artist: Mariana Juarez, Kimberly Sanchez, and David Maciel
Orange County
Grade: 11
Samueli Academy
Advisor: Aimee Bilderback
An animated film about a friend who noticed warning signs that their friend needed help.

Reach Out

Statewide Third Place- Animated Short
2019
Artist: Mila Daniel, Markov Zarate, and Camryn Lujan
Orange County
Grade: 10
Samueli Academy
Advisor: Aimee Bilderback
Our film is an animated short focused on reaching out to loved ones who may be suffering with depression or suicidal thoughts. It focuses on a boy in emotional pain, and he exhibits many signs of somebody with suicidal thoughts. His friend notices these signs in him and she decides to reach out in order to...

Audience of One

Statewide First Place- Animated Short
2020
Artist: Keanu Hua, Brian Ly, Kayla Nguyen and Alexa Wright
Orange County
Grade: 10
La Quinta High School Creative Writing
Advisor: Amanda LaPera
A protagonist, depressed at the hopelessness of their life, goes to his desk and tears out the pages of his life, his memories. Ultimately, though, his actions draw the sympathy of a dear friend of his, who reminds him that, even when everything seems terrible, every moment of his life means something.
Walk in Our Shoes

Words Can Be Weapons

Honorable Mention - Walk in Our Shoes - Words Matter
2023
Artist: Michael Stanphill, Griffin Henninger, Sultan Rahman, Isabella Bonilla Franco, Millie Ruiz, Angelina Rosado, Ryan Ayoub, Christopher Bravo Romero, Petter Velarde, Blaise Burwell, Cailynn Grossman, and Logan Miyake
Orange County
Grade: 8
Advisor: Danny Chiang
A film about the effects of bullying on middle school youth.

Reaching Out

First Place - Walk in Our Shoes - What is Mental Health
2023
Artist: Anna Nguyen, Sophia Li, and Orion Bentley
Orange County
Grade: 7
Advisor: Roxanne Smathers
"My submission follows a teenage student struggling with depression. My entry's mission is to teach the viewers about what mental health is, how you can improve it, and how you can help someone who struggles with it."

Remember

Second Place - Walk in Our Shoes - Words Matter
2023
Artist: Alex Kaushek and Isabella Hernandez
Orange County
Grade: 8
Advisor: Roxanne Smathers
An educational film about the day in the life of a student with ADHD.

Said Versus Understood

Honorable Mention - Walk in Our Shoes - Words Matter
2023
Artist: Sophia Li and Anna Nguyen
Orange County
Grade: 7
Advisor: Roxanne Smathers
A film about the effects of words on the way another person's self-esteem.

Walk in My Shoes (Do You Notice Me)

Honorable Mention - Walk in Our Shoes - Words Matter
2023
Artist: Lynn Nguyen, Leo Luu, Elizabeth Lam, Thien Nguyen, Joanne Tran, and Van Pham
Orange County
Grade: 7
Advisor: Kert Resig
A girl faces bullying, which many don't take action about until a friend steps in to help.

Helping someone in need

Honorable Mention - Walk in Our Shoes - The Superhero in Each of Us
2023
Artist: Andrea, Jaxton, Alonso, and Victor
Orange County
Grade: 8
Advisor: Anthony Buncab
A middle school youth notices another student is struggling, who shares he has suicidal thoughts, so they go to a counselor for help.

It’s ok to ask for help

Honorable Mention - Walk in Our Shoes - What is Mental Health
2023
Artist: Orion Bentley, Cole Stevens, Nolan Choi, and Micah Reiss
Orange County
Grade: 8
Advisor: Roxanne Smathers
A film about what mental health is and how to get help for yourself or another person who is going through a mental health challenge.

Out of The Darkness

Honorable Mention - Walk in Our Shoes - Words Matter
2023
Artist: Dan Pham, Thu Huynh, Emily Martinez, and Aylin Atonal
Orange County
Grade: 7
Advisor: Kurt Reisig
A film about friend pulling another friend out of darkness and to get help.

Lasting Impact

Honorable Mention- Walk in our Shoes- Words Matter
2022
Artist: Mackenzie Brehm, Claire Vaughan, Angelasarai Bernal, Faith Monges, and Matia Gonzalez
Orange County
Grade: 10
Santiago Charter Middle School
Advisor: Danny Chiang
When one student in a classroom struggles, students model the right and wrong ways to respond and provide support. Students learn that words can have a lasting impact and that it is important to show kindness to others.

Life In Color

Second Place- Walk in our Shoes- What is Mental Health
2021
Artist: Aarya Halankar
Orange County
Grade: 10
Gordon H. Beatty Middle School
Advisor: Nae Ry Cho
A film about how opening up to others and how using available resources can bring color back to one’s life.

How to Help a Friend in Need

Honorable Mention- Walk in Our Shoes- What is Mental Health
2020
Artist: TEAM/Members will be Anonymous
Orange County
Grade: 7
Whitaker Elementary School
Advisor: Megan Vanderwest
An animated film which shares tips about how to be supportive of a friend who is struggling such as using encouraging words, and how to seek help from a trusted adult.
Hope and Justice

Dear Mom and Dad…

First Place Monthly Prompt - Film - High School
2024
Artist: Tahlia Pompel and Claire Ng
Orange County
Grade: 12
El Dorado High School
Advisor: Mark Switzer
As I'm growing up and becoming more independent, I've struggled with being overwhelmed by school, my commitments, and my busy schedule. I know my parents want to help me but don't always know how. I want them to know that, because of all the things they have taught me and the values they have instilled in...

Are you ok?

Honorable Mention Monthly Prompt - High School
2023
Artist: Caitlin Oreta
Orange County
Grade: 10
Canyon High School
Advisor: Alex Graham
“All it takes is one message to ask if someone is ok. It may be hard to reach out, but in the end it will be worth it. I believe it's important to share how we feel. We should feel no shame in telling our friends about our mental health.”

Coyote Corner

First Place Monthly Prompt - High School
2023
Artist: Aracely Aispuro-Morales and Leilani Chavez
Orange County
Grade: 10
Buena Park High School
Advisor: Vaziri Tabar
“Our film highlights a unique spot at Buena Park High School. It's more than just a room, it's where we go when things get tough. Here, you're never just another face in the crowd – you're greeted, heard, and supported. It's about the everyday reassurance that we're not alone in this.”

Be the friend

First Place Monthly Prompt - Middle School
2023
Artist: Penny Linh and Abbey Xuan Lea Graham
Orange County
Grade: 6
St Paul's School
Advisor: Timothy McCann and Alex Graham
“If you notice that a friend is sad, you should talk to them. It’s okay if you don’t always know what to say; most of the time, people just need someone to listen to them.”

Evolution

Honorable Mention Monthly Prompt - Film and Written Works
2023
Artist: Kaitlyn Wilger
Orange County
Grade: 8
Serrano Intermediate
Advisor: Alison Stucky
My submission relates to the required criteria because I start with a simple drum beat and add more to make it sound like a whole song/riff and then I have captions that say just like adding more than one sound to make a beat completely different. You can be more than one friend, son/daughter, or somebody...

Goals for 2023

2023
Artist: Jaden Cady and Sophie Cendejas
Orange County
Grade: 12
El Dorado High School
Advisor: Mark Switzer
“In my film, I talk about my hopes and goals for 2023. I include my own personal goals, my hopes for my loved ones, and my hopes for my community.”

Goals for 2023

Honorable Mention January Monthly Prompt TikTok Challenge
2023
Artist: Sophie Cendejas and Jaden Cady
Orange County
Grade: 11
El Dorado High School
Advisor: Mark Switzer
"In this film, I talk about my three goals for the new year."

Coach Veronica’s Journey

Second Place Monthly Prompt - Film and Written Works
2022
Artist: Sharon Chen, Emma Suh, Jonathan Kim, and Josiah Lee
Orange County
Grade: 12
Portola High School
Advisor: Tina Murphy
In our entry, we showcase the story of a high school water polo coach and her journey with mental health. Coach Veronica reveals her past struggles in battling her mental health issues with depression and ADHD and how water polo became a sanctuary for her. The tight-knit community of teammates helped support Coach Veronica through her...

Hope in us

Honorable Mention May 2022 Hope
2022
Artist: Oceanne Fabry-Mourer and Kaitlyn Wilger
Orange County
Grade: 7
Serrano Intermediate
Advisor: Ali Stucky
Our submission is about ideas to give you hope while going through a though time. We provided a few tips with tangible actions to take. The idea was to ensure that students have an opportunity to have "toolkit" in case of needing help.

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

Honorable Mention May 2022 Justice
2022
Artist: Nathan Langley and Ryder Yerington
Orange County
Grade: 8
Serrano Intermediate
Advisor: Ali Stucky
We showed how people may not know others' backgrounds and what they could be feeling and not to judge them for it.

What is Hope?

1st place May 2022 Hope
2022
Artist: Addison Nelson and Sophia Davies
Orange County
Grade: 7
Serrano Intermediate
Advisor: Ali Stucky
Our video is meant to show what others think hope is or what they are hoping for. We hope that people will feel encouraged by this to share their hope with the world and not be scared to show their hopes and dreams.

Heritage Held High

First Place - Hope & Justice
2022
Artist: Scott Hayashida
Orange County
Grade: 10
Canyon High School
Advisor: Alex Graham
“This video is about my Japanese American culture and origins and about the recent situations with Asian Hate. I believe that Asian Hate crimes are causing widespread depression among the Asian community and I have taken step in the direction of what I believe I can do to help."

Stop Childhood Sexual Abuse

Third Place - Hope & Justice
2022
Artist: Emily Reed
Orange County
Grade: 12
NAMI
Advisor: Steve Pitman
“My goal for creating this entry is to inform and bring awareness to the community that sexual abuse can be the cause of mental health diagnoses. Bringing people, organizations, resources together is something I feel is impactful based on my experience, as well as inspire and encourage others to seek help and let individuals know they...

The Struggle with Surviving

Honorable Mention- Hope and Justice
2021
Artist: Haley Bartow
Orange County
Grade: 9
Serrano Intermediate
Advisor: Haley Bartow
A poem about a girl with suicidal thoughts and where she finds hope.

Pawsitively Grateful

Monthly Prompt Film 1st Place
2021
Artist: Amariah Garza
Orange County
Pacific Coast High School
Advisor: Barry Koff
“My video serves as a reminder that no matter how long one has a pet, the love, kindness, empathy, and joy that can be learned from them will forever be present and allow us to connect to those around us.”