When a group of high-school friends post a rumour about a rival, it sparks a chain reaction that leaves no one untouched, Cyberbullying, sexting, filmed fights and police action follow – will these friends be Tagged forever?
That’s the premise behind the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s first dramatic educational film, Tagged, a 17 minute short produced by Melbourne’s Great Southern Communications (GSC), directed by Chris Benz and shot over seven days earlier this year in Melbourne at Brighton Secondary College and Northcote High School.
The ACMA is also executive producer, with GSC’s Simon Whitney producing.
Featuring a teenage cast, Tagged is aimed at an audience 14 years old and over.
The film is scripted by Damien Power, in consultation with ACMA staff. Damien is an independent filmmaker who was working for the ACMA when the concept for the film was developed.
Tagged is a drama for Australian teenagers that explores cyberbullying, sexting and digital reputation management. These themes are crucial to maintaining positive online behaviour and experiences while growing into adulthood.
Designed for classroom use, Tagged is a complete educational package that is complemented by flexible lesson plans. Supplementary character interviews provide additional material to help students engage with the cybersafety issues explored in Tagged. Through guided lessons, students are encouraged to reflect on how their online actions could have real life consequences.
Supported by the findings of its 2009 study Click and connect: Young Australians’ use of online social media, as well as feedback sought directly from students, the ACMA developed the Tagged resource with the aim of addressing cybersafety issues in a way that young people can relate to.
‘The goal with Tagged is for its teen audience to feel that the film is totally authentic,’ said GSC’s Christopher Benz ‘There are complex moral dilemmas for each character in Tagged, and there’s a lot to like and dislike about each of our protagonists. This makes the film not only very real, but one in which we genuinely learn about human nature.’
Key cast are all Victorian and many are newcomers to acting on screen: Lisa Marie Shaw, Stephanie Mauro, Georgia Engels, Rowan Hills and Lucia Emmerichs.
‘The ACMA’s production of Tagged stays truthful to today’s generation by showing the efficiency of technology and how anyone can end up being the bully,’ said Lisa Marie Shaw, who plays Kate, the film’s central character.
‘I loved working on the set as the director Chris Benz and crew wanted the cast’s input on what we felt as youth was relevant to us and what was too farfetched. This allowed an insight for all team members to understand how much we really rely on technology in this generation and how cyberbullying is just as bad as verbal/physical bullying. Tagged is a snapshot of the problems in today’s high school when everything goes wrong.’
Tagged will be released online and officially launched by the Hon. Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy on 23 September at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image.