Filming of the new documentary Selfless began two years ago in southwest England. Local filmmakers Kim Laureen and her daughter Meg have invested their time and money to create the movie which they feel opens the conversation to the ever-growing epidemic of selfies, social media and technology. (Submitted photo)

Filmmakers tackle topic of youth and the social media epidemic

Mother and daughter from Abbotsford and Mission team up to create Selfless documentary

A Fraser Valley-based mother/daughter filmmaking team is preparing to host a screening of their first documentary – Selfless.

The film is designed to open the conversation to the ever-growing epidemic of selfies, social media and technology.

Kim Laureen of Mission and her daughter Meg, from Abbotsford, spent about two years making the film, which will be shown at the Clarke Foundation Theatre in Mission on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m., with a panel discussion to follow.

It has been a long journey for the local mother of eight, but Kim said she’s thrilled by the final result.

The idea began in 2015. Kim, who runs the Mission-based Fresh Independence Productions, and Meg were working together on a music blog, putting together interviews, reviews and videos online.

Kim says that, during a conversation with Meg, they began to voice their frustrations with people in the music industry who were constantly on their cellphones. Then Kim broadened the scope and noticed that everyone, even her own kids, seemed to have their heads down engaged in screens and not engaged with others.

“We were frustrated by celebrities and what they were putting on kids, how they felt they should look. Like, let’s just say Kim Kardashian and her selfies. Is this what our daughters are supposed to aspire to?”

Then came the question that put the whole process in motion.

“One day, we were on a walk and we said, ‘If a girl lived in a forest and she had no mirrors, magazines or social media, what would beautiful look like to her? And how would she view herself?’ ”

That question made them both think of Kuki Warburton, a young girl who they knew because her family was featured on their music blog.

Kim said Warburton lives in the hills of southwest England, off the grid in a “very earthy and organic family.”

After contacting the family, the two aspiring filmmakers used Air Miles to travel to England. Once there, they began to form the basis of a documentary.

“We, of course, needed a cinematographer once we arrived. We got off the plane and put a little ad in the paper,” Kim said.

Many people said they liked the concept, but with little money to pay, they declined to help.

However, one man, Nick Hamer, agreed to do it for grocery money.

With the first few scenes shot and in the can, the duo returned home.

With only a few minutes of footage, the two had to decide what kind of film they wanted to make.

After examining some “scary” statistics – Laureen said her research indicated that there are up to 70 per cent more depressed teens than 20 years ago, Instagram has more than 100 million posts every 24 hours, and Snapchat has three billion a day – they decided to focus on the positive, rather than the negative.

“Imagine what kids could do with some of that time to make the world a better place,” Kim thought.

They began to seek out youth who were doing positive things in their lives.

That took the mother/daughter team on a journey that included visiting Victoria to meet a youth, in her second remission with leukemia, who had just graduated high school.

“She teaches us that life is precious, don’t miss it … She wasn’t fighting for popularity; she’s fighting for her life.”

Finding no financial backing for the project, they begged, borrowed and cashed in more Air Miles to continue their search.

They travelled from subject to subject, getting stories from kids everywhere. They spoke to a boy who is visually impaired, an eight-year-old who started his own recycling business, and a girl who has suffered bullying and insecurities and now helps others.

“Here are kids giving back to others and focusing on other things.”

s e l f l e s s – Official Trailer from Fresh Independence on Vimeo.

They also visited an inner-city school in Texas as well as local schools in the Fraser Valley, creating dialogues with students.

Once they had all the footage, the editing process began. They had hours and hours of tape and had to turn it into a story.

“We made a lot of mistakes along the way. We are different filmmakers today, 18 months later, than we were when we started. We didn’t know what we were doing.”

In the end, Kim calls it a very candid look at the issues.

“Selfless is a film that is imperfectly perfect, like life itself.”

Tickets to the Feb. 12 screening of Selfless are $15 and are available at eventbrite.ca, freshindependence.com or by calling 604-768-8214.

After the screening, Kim will be on hand to take part in a panel discussion. Other members of the panel include Dr. Dave Currie of Doing Family Right, Greg Bay from CBI Health Care, and Paige Freeborn of World Music Program.

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