'Cut' film sheds light on self-injury
By Debra Carr-Elsing
Self-injury isn't talked about very much, but it should be. Millions of girls and young women in America participate in this behavior, and talking openly about these issues is the first step to recovery.
That's why Madison filmmaker Wendy Schneider is producing and directing a new documentary on this often obscure problem. The film is titled "Cut: Teens and Self-Injury."
"A lot of people don't understand self-injury," Schneider says.
"Teens that I've spoken to feel a lot of shame and isolation because there's a prevalent layer of judgment that's associated with self-injury, and it comes from misconceptions about why a teen might be engaging in this behavior."
'Cut' film sheds light on self-injury
Shirley Manson, lead singer of Garbage
Self-harm also isn't just associated with teens and women, she adds. Men do this, too.
A benefit concert to help raise funds for the production and distribution of the film will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at High Noon Saloon, 701 E. Washington Ave.
Tax-deductible donations of $5 or more will be taken at the door, and the event will feature three popular Madison acts: Wilhelmina Baker, Bob Manor and the Getaway Drivers and the Motor Primitives.
Schneider hopes to release the documentary in September. For more information, check online at cutthemovie.com.
The film explores the issues of self-harm through the experiences and honest stories of teens and counselors. It's being produced in partnership with Briarpatch: Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin and is being distributed by SAFE Alternatives in Chicago, the first in-patient center dedicated to self-harm in this country.
"One thing I've learned is that cutting provides some relief for frustration, stress and anxiety," Schneider says. "It's a behavior linked to feelings that can be very common.
"But I don't understand why this particular behavior seems to be growing right now."
According to the film's Web site, it's estimated that four in every 100 Americans will harm themselves at some time in their lives. The pain and despair of those afflicted often is compounded by lack of awareness and understanding.
"As more information gets out there, the more resources, support groups, hotlines and studies might pop up," Schneider says. "There aren't a lot of studies done on self-injury, and teens want to talk about these issues."
The "Cut" documentary features candid interviews with teens in recovery. Also included is an interview with Shirley Manson, lead singer of Garbage, who is a survivor of self-harm.
On Saturday, the bands at the benefit concert are donating their time to the cause, and High Noon Saloon is donating the stage time.
"I've been following Wendy's progress with this project and heightening awareness on these issues is very important," says Cathy Dethmers, owner of High Noon Saloon.
Pam Barrett of the Motor Primitives says that the video documentary will be a valuable resource, and she's happy to help raise funds for its distribution.
A New York native, Schneider is owner and chief engineer at Coney Island Recording Studios, which produces for independent record labels and regional artists. She also is founder of Sparkle Dog, a company that does Storyscapes, which are narratives set to original music on CDs for children.
Manson says that self-injury is a subject that has long been swept under the carpet.
"It needs to be talked about and it needs to be talked about now," she says.
It is hoped that the weekend fundraiser will help raise enough funds so Schneider can complete the documentary, which is still in production.
"I've gotten teens interested in the film by going to Briarpatch and showing portions of the film," Schneider says. "It's been great working with Briarpatch counselors too."
Segments of "Cut" also were included in an audio documentary on self-injury that aired last week in Australia.
"It's amazing how everyone is saying very similar things about self-injury," Schneider says. "This is not a difficult behavior to understand if, in fact, the information is out there to access."
A big misconception is that self-injury is suicidal behavior, Schneider says. "It can be, but many teens have told me that cutting has kept them from committing suicide."
Her goal is to have the film used to help educate and to supplement recovery.
"It's really hard to find media out there on self-injury, and this project is from the point of view of teens," Schneider says, "and we don't get to see - or hear - that as often as we should."
http://www.madison.com/tct/features/ind … mp;ntpid=0