Mission StatementI want to portray OCD with authenticity and respect to foster empathy and awareness. It's told through a comedic lens, because I find humor incites hope. Don’t Worry About It shows us what happens when we succumb to anxiety and fear, but is, ultimately, a story of hope and redemption.
About The Project
What’s the grossest thing you’ve ever done?
For me, it’s a tie between dipping my hands in toilet water, using a gas station bathroom, touching actual feces, and eating a cookie off a toilet seat.
No, it wasn’t for some weird social media challenge. This was my experience undergoing intensive therapy for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), specifically contamination OCD. I say specifically, because I've had many different manifestations of OCD throughout my life. OCD isn't purely contamination or being neat, it can vary in subject e.g. sex, harm, religion, etc. It's all rooted in uncertainty. It just so happens I was recently exhibiting one of the most common forms of OCD.
Don't Worry About It is a dramedy that depicts the debilitating nature of OCD and the weird therapy excercises I did as I worked toward recovery. The film uses hope and humor to tell a story of redemption. Like me, the protagonist had to face her fears and embrace the feelings associated with them, no matter how uncomfortable, in order to move forward with her life. This script is the direct result of my personal comeback.
Don't Worry About It has been written out as a feature, and I'm making this short as a proof of concept in the hopes of making the full-length version. There's so much more to explore!
As I write this, we are in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, so we all know what it’s like to feel uncertain, anxious, and worried. They’re all part of the human experience, but what happens when we let it control our lives? The film explores this through the lens of an anxiety disorder.
I’m sure you’re wondering how someone who is so disgusted by germs is handling the crisis. Oddly enough, rather calmly. I think the reason for that is because those with anxiety disorders, like OCD, already felt like they were living in worst-case scenarios. For the past few years, panicking, constant purchasing of cleaning supplies, decontaminating, and self-isolation took over my life. So, welcome to our world, it’s quite terrifying. Although, it is nice knowing more people are washing their hands now.
I want to bring an authentic perspective and specificity to an often stereotyped and misunderstood disorder. My goal with this film is to foster empathy and bring awareness to this mental health issue. In film and TV, a character’s “compulsions” are often used to make them quirky for comedic effect, dismissing the serious nature of it. People also tend to joke that they have OCD - "I'm so OCD...They're OCD about...Don't be so OCD", but they don’t always recognize OCD can take on different forms and that it’s a real mental disorder that can ruin your quality of life, which is what happened to me.
I like to write character-driven, heartfelt stories that are insightful and entertaining. My stories, while grounded, are often told through a comedic lens, because I find that humor incites hope. For me, laughter is just as cathartic and impactful as the therapy I was in, albeit much cheaper than therapy. Don’t Worry About It shows us what happens when we succumb to anxiety and fear, but the film is really a story of hope and redemption.
The Look and Tone
Those serious yet absurd therapy exercises encapsulated the strange direction my life had taken and set the comedic tone for my dramedy, Don’t Worry About It. It is a dramedy similar in tone and visual style to Brittany Runs a Marathon and Other People.
The comedy comes from the emotional journey the protagonist takes in intensive therapy, not the OCD. My OCD did not originally present itself as contamination OCD, which is likely why I was misdiagnosed and untreated for decades. As someone who had never gone through intensive therapy, let alone regular therapy, I had my own fish-out-of-water experience. I processed this stressful period of my life the only way I knew how, with humor.
It is an authentic look inside the mind of someone with OCD. People with OCD are flooded with intrusive and obsessive thoughts that, again, vary in subject e.g. numbers, symmetry, facial expressions, etc. These thoughts cause distress, so they engage in compulsive behaviors/rituals to decrease the distress. The audience will see the distorted images the character sees in contrast to reality, and why the character feels so compelled to ritualize. Those distorted images will feel real yet obviously ridiculous, much in the way someone with OCD views things. I want to portray the full scope of what it means to have OCD.
*Production plan during the pandemic.
Our goal is to film in April, but we know there's a lot of uncertainty because of the pandemic.
We're taking the safety of our cast and crew very seriously. Our crowdfunding factored in PPE and a COVID compliance officer, who will be overseeing safety protocols.
We've always planned to hire locally in Chicago, so if our production date changes due to new policies, we will still have the resources to film at a different date. This is a very personal project and a story that a lot of people can relate to, so we intend to make this short no matter when or how.
The pandemic has put so many people out of jobs, especially those in the film and TV industry. Making this short creates jobs and a signifcant part of our crowdfunding goes toward paying our hard-working cast and crew.
Thank you for your support!
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About This Team
Writer/Director - Melissa Kong
I'm a comedy/dramedy writer from Chicago and I can't wait to make Don't Worry About It. My writing has placed in several competitions. Highlights include Wonderful World (CAPE List, PAGE semi-finalist), Tina Fey is My Friend (Nicholl Fellowship top 10%, Austin Film Festival semi-finalist), Don’t Worry About It (Nicholl Fellowship top 15%). I earned my MFA in Writing for the Screen & Stage from Northwestern University and BA in Theater from the University of Illinois at Chicago. I've studied abroad in London at LAMDA and am a graduate of iO and Second City. I'm 5 feet tall, have a second-degree black belt, and can do clapping push-ups.
Producer - Grace Hahn
Grace Hahn is a Chicago-based producer whose most recent projects include writer/director Haroula Rose’s feature-length novel adaptation ONCE UPON A RIVER [available in virtual cinemas via Film Movement] and the coming-of-age feature PRINCESS CYD from director Stephen Cone [currently available for streaming on Hulu & Amazon Prime and is highlighted in Criterion Channel's "Three By Stephen Cone" series]. Grace is a committed advocate for uplifting leadership, equity amongst cast/crew, and discovering & promoting environmentally sustainable production methods. She is a member of the inaugural class of the Chicago Independent Producers Lab and was recognized as one of Chicago's Film50 Screen Gems of 2020 by NewCity.
Director of Photography - Dan Kwon
Daniel Kwon is a cinematographer based in Chicago, IL. His scope of work ranges from working as a cinematographer on Emmy award winning films to directing and DPing documentary and commercial work. While most of his work consists of travelling internationally and globally, he currently resides in the west side of Chicago near Pilsen where he runs a studio, 1903 | Production Co + Creative Collective. In his spare time he enjoys long walks on the beach, spending time outdoors, playing music with different jazz groups and his R&B band, and attempting to become better at writing bios.
Art Direction - Amy Frazzini
Exclusive Movie Art - Nick Price (Pop Americana)
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