Last August we spoke to Reuben Cullen for our In Conversation feature about how his time spent holidaying on the Mornington Peninsula fuelled his creativity and imagination from a young age. Reuben’s always got a real kick out of showing people the world through his eyes, and his used his own experience with addiction and recovery to inspire and empower children to be their own hero in his book that he released last year, A Hero Born.
Now he’s creating a short film called Shard. It’s been a four-year process to write the movie with his friend Adam Wierzbowski, where this everyday bloke has drawn on some of his experiences to help others who might be suffering in similar ways. Shard follows Reuben’s struggles with drug addiction, mental health, and suicide. Stig Wemyss, from Mezzanine Films, has come on board as the director, with Reuben working closely alongside him. Arthur Angel, known for his acting in the iconic Australian film Red Dog as well as others including Ghost Rider with Nicolas Cage and The Chronicles of Narnia, has come on as an associate producer. Reuben’s goal is that hopefully one day the short film will do exactly what Reuben and Adam set out to do – help others.
“The team have worked pretty damn hard on this project for a long time and now we’re ready people,” said Reuben. “With the devastation ice causes, coupled with the fact that one in five Australians today are suffering from mental health, we as a community are ready to do something with lasting benefits, particularly after the last 12 months we have all endured.”
In 2017 Reuben and Adam began writing his story as a full-length movie after people repeatedly would tell him that he could make a movie out of his life stories. It was only when Adam bumped into Stig that one thing led to another, and Stig invited them to send over the script. Although it needed plenty of work, he loved the first 20 pages but suggested it be written as a short film instead. From here he was eager to work with the pair and came on board as a script editor and then as a co-writer. Now the Shard script is refined, and the new focus has become seeking a grant to get their pivotal message out there with government support.
This is where GoFundMe comes into play. To have a high chance of receiving a grant, they’re after as much support as they can get to increase their chances. Every dollar raised will go towards making the movie a reality by funding their government grant application. Any money raised over the target will go towards the film’s budget. Having got close to his target of $10,000, Reuben took on another challenge – a 60km challenge, to be exact. Reuben put himself on the line to run the SiS Great Ocean Road 60km Ultra Marathon on May 16 to show his dedication to the cause and the project. It was memorable and tiring yet extremely epic.
Reuben’s now fully recovered after a challenging five-year journey. Now he believes he’s ready for anything, and that he’s exactly where he’s meant to be. The writing became a cathartic process for Reuben during this time, while he relied on his imagination to easily picture what he was writing as he relived his past experiences. Hence it goes without saying that he isn’t afraid to be vulnerable and is keen to work with VCE students once the film is out to really bring home his message after showing the short film, personifying the content and making the content educational. His vision is to create a gritty and raw short film that will portray Reuben’s past and present life. Not only is the title the street name for ice, but it also represents pieces broken and falling apart – a powerful word to describe his debilitating experience and inspire hope for those in a similar situation or educate others about the dark side to drug addiction.
“I feel like mental health issues can be one of the hardest things for people to understand if they haven’t been through them themselves,” said Reuben. “Whether it’s mental health, drug addiction or suicide, this short film that my team and I want to create is designed to do two things: we want to inform those people who are close to someone with these issues as well as – and most importantly – give the sufferers of these issues hope by showing them what can be achieved through hard work in recovery. The support has been amazing and something I could not ever quite put into words. But there is one thing I know: if we make enough noise together, they will listen.”
You can donate to the project at https://gofund.me/56ed0968, follow its progress on Facebook and Instagram @shardshortmovie and reach out to those involved via email on firstname.lastname@example.org