The Slump: How Annie Hoang Faces Depression Through Filmmaking

Senior+Annie+Hoang+is+a+creative+writer+and+aspiring+filmmaker.

Annie Hoang

Senior Annie Hoang is a creative writer and aspiring filmmaker.

By Dakota Canzano, La Salle Catholic Preparatory High School

The following article contains a short film with explicit content. 

High school can be rough.

There are many ups and downs that can occur between the start of freshman year and the end of senior year. Many students might find their high school experience becoming flooded with constant worries and stresses that can end up overwhelming their mental health.

Teenagers often find themselves dealing with slumps throughout their lives and challenges that can sometimes feel overwhelming.

Senior Annie Hoang, a creative writer and aspiring filmmaker, has combined her creativity and own experience together to create a short film highlighting the effects of depression on a person and the weight that it can carry with you.

On Nov. 2, 2019, Hoang debuted a short film on YouTube called “The Slump” starring senior Alison Paguio. Hoang not only directed the video but wrote the dialogue as well.

Hoang wanted her film to be real and genuine.

Depression can often be over-dramatized in movies and television series, but Hoang wanted to be raw with the emotions portrayed through the screen.

“I wanted to show how people have depression and they go through it day to day,” Hoang said. “[They may] have ways to deal with it but that doesn’t mean they don’t get overwhelmed at times.”

Hoang’s short film has more than 1,500 views. One of those views comes from freshman Maggie Crimmins.

“I think that students who are going through mental health issues might see [the film] and feel like they aren’t alone,” Crimmins said. “It helps make the subject more open and less stigmatized.”

Hoang intended to make her film “monotonous” to showcase the “drone of depression” that can be shown as the repetitive effects from depression on a day-to-day basis.

An organization called Youthline has inspired Hoang to tackle the topic of depression through filmmaking. Youthline is a service that provides a reliable and confidential source of communication for anyone who may need it when dealing with mental health, a home-life crisis or any stress that a teen may be dealing with in high school.

“There’s 100% someone out there who cares,” she said.

With depression being one of the most common illnesses worldwide and in high school today, Hoang recognized the importance of bringing awareness to the subject.

“I spent a long time not telling anyone about what I was going through,” she said. “[But] making [the film] was such a different experience.”

Hoang felt at ease when she got to exert her energy into creating something for people to relate to. With Paguio being her close friend, it made Hoang felt eager to express herself through her art by sharing it with her.

“Alison is a really, really good friend of mine,” she said. “She’s like my go-to for art.”

Hoang felt like she could trust Paguio with her story.

“She’s such a good actress,” she said. “She will deliver.”

Hoang is very appreciative of all of her friends, peers and family members who have supported her through the process of making the short film and then hitting “upload.”

Throughout Hoang’s high school experience she has been very successful in fulfilling her creative and artistic passions through visual art, music, writing, and photography.

“I like music and I like visual art,” she said. “[I also love] writing, [and] film is all of them in one. The way you use music and connect it to your writing can make a film really good, so I like that challenge.”

In 2017, at the beginning of her sophomore year, Hoang won a national contest and was able to publish her own short story through Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It was called “Of Metaphors, Monsters, and Wild Thoughts,” and tells the story of someone struggling with depression.

Then, in 2019, Hoang submitted a script she had written for La Salle’s Script Writing Contest.

Hoang was one of the winners for the script writing contest and had the opportunity to have her script, “Roses,” performed at the second annual One-Act festival at La Salle.

Moving forward, Hoang hopes to double major in psychology and film. However, the “El Otro Lado” immersion trip has especially inspired Hoang to consider journalism as a major because she was able to spend a lot of reflective time writing.

Hoang is determined to pursue a career in art. She has found that she is able to express herself freely which something she is very passionate about.

“I definitely want to do film in college because it’s something I love,” she said. “I just feel something and I love the idea of [putting your own] ideas out there and then becoming the real thing.”

Hoang has surprised herself by being open to conversation regarding mental health, which can often be a topic that gets pushed to the side.

“If you told me a couple years ago that I was going to share [what I was going through] with Alison, let alone all of the other people who have seen [my short film], I would’ve been like, no way,” she said.

Mia Ly
Throughout her high school experience, Hoang has been grateful for the friendships she has made and for the people who have always been supportive of her.

Sharing her story is important to Hoang because she wants teens to know they’re not alone. Hoang also found it vital for teenagers to know that telling people about what you are going through, at first, can be challenging.

“But I definitely think that you feel a release off your chest,” she said. “Just having people to depend [can help] change it.”

Hoang genuinely believes that having someone to talk to is a game changer.

“It’s so important,” she said. “I know a lot of people feel like they will be a burden if they talk to someone about their problems but the people out there care, and you deserve to get the help and support you need.”

Throughout her short film Hoang uses colors and visual symbolism to display what the character is going through and the challenges depression can cause.

Hoang used black balloons as a symbol for the weight the character carries throughout the week. She wanted to show how there’s multiple moments where Pagiuo wants to get away from the balloons but it’s tied to her in the moment, symbolizing how her depression is tied down to her.

Hoang relates this to her own experience with depression.

“It starts off small, and then it kind of builds up,” she said. “It’s not something that I can control but it’s something that kind of follows me around throughout the day.”

Hoang didn’t want the balloons to be “a part of the character” because she wanted to show that having a mental health condition doesn’t define you.

However, Hoang also believes that it’s important to acknowledge how connected it is to you and to learn who you are as well.

Hoang wants to remind teenagers in high school to “take time for yourself.” But, most importantly she wants to get the message out that “you are not alone.”

This story was originally published on The La Salle Falconer on January 8, 2020.