A screengrab from a video focusing on bullying that will...

A screengrab from a video focusing on bullying that will be shown at the first-ever "Student & Youth Prevention Film Project" at Patchogue Theatre on Apr. 13. Credit: Handout

Slapping Noelle Tibke in the face in a stairwell at Brentwood High School wasn't easy for Billy Volovar. But he forced himself: The classmates had agreed to stage an incident of high-school relationship violence as part of a public service film.

"It was actually really awkward to shoot it," said Tibke, 17, and a senior. "In the shoot, he's supposed to be the abusive boyfriend." Tibke poses sprawled on the ground as if Volovar has pushed her down the stairs, and appears bereft as Volovar looks on unfeelingly.

Wednesday evening, the short piece will kick off what the Suffolk County Executive's Office is billing as "The First Annual Student & Youth Prevention Film Project." The "red carpet" event begins at 7 p.m. at the Patchogue Theatre at 71 E. Main St. It's free and open to the public; semiformal attire is requested.

Students, parents, school superintendents, teachers and government officials will watch the premiere of close to 25 videos, each between 30 seconds and 5 minutes long, on dating violence, cyberbullying, gay bashing and other forms of abuse.

While county groups have sponsored anti-violence public awareness campaigns in previous years, those have focused on posters and other print material, said Jennifer Freeman, coordinator of the county executive's Task Force to Prevent Family Violence. But after the Brentwood High students made their film in June, the county was inspired to catch up with the electronic world, Freeman said. A compilation of the best parts of each film will be distributed to county school districts for education purposes, she said.

Richie Vernillo, a senior at Smithtown High School East, has submitted a 90-second public service announcement-style video focusing on bullying. "I've been bullied since sixth grade," he said. "I've always been the target. I've been left out, I've been made fun of, I've been cyberbullied. Either someone is throwing something at me, or they're bothering me."

While the Brentwood students said they haven't personally experienced dating abuse, they wanted to illustrate to their peers the red flags in dating relationships. Students should be cognizant of more than just physical abuse, Tibke said, such as trying to control the partner.

Tibke and Volovar, both Brentwood seniors, are excited and nervous about the viewing with their film's co-creators, senior Erika Yzique and Stephanie Nassetta, now a freshman at Suffolk Community College. "I'm excited to see the overall expressions on people's faces. Maybe this will change their overall outlook on abuse," Nassetta said. "Hopefully this generation will break the cycle."

Latest videos