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What to Do About Bullies

Click below to see clips from Amelias interviews at the Greenwich International Film Festival.


According to studies, more than 3.2 million students are bullied each year. When Daniel Bydlowski was in middle school, he was one of them. Now a successful filmmaker, Bydlowski created a short movie, Bullies, about a young boy who is tormented by his classmates. 

On June 3, Bydlowski screened the film at the fourth annual Greenwich International Film Festival in Greenwich, Connecticut. Afterwards, I moderated a discussion with Bydlowski and Ross Ellis, the founder and chief executive officer of STOMP Out Bullying, a nonprofit organization that promotes inclusion and equality.


Greenwich International Film Festival in Greenwich, ConnecticutAmelia at the Greenwich International Film Festival in Greenwich, Connecticut

Here are highlights from our conversation at the Greenwich Library:

What inspired you to make this film?

Daniel Bydlowski: When I was in middle school, I experienced bullying, and I always wanted to do something about it. I had this idea of making a short film. At first, I wanted to create a character who was completely lost, without any friends. I started to think: How can he come out of it?

The only way I thought that he could was for him to actually see his future. What would happen if a kid never dealt with his problems, with his suffering? So he goes on this adventure and sees what would happen and how he would need to get out.

What research did you do before writing the script? Who did you talk to?

Bydlowski: A lot of research was talking to friends of mine who happened to be bullied. I watched a lot of documentaries, including Bully, the feature film that came out a little before I wrote this script.

What message do you hope young viewers will take away from the movie?

Bydlowski: I’d like them to know that school is not the last step in their lives. That things are going to probably get better. School is an environment that you always need to be part of. There is no way to get out because you need to go to school. But once you get out, you start to have more control over your life. You are not alone. Other people suffer the same thing.

Do you have advice for aspiring filmmakers?

Bydlowski: The best advice for aspiring filmmakers is to create projects that they feel personally connected to. It’s always a difficult journey to get from the script to production of the film, and you really need to love what you’re doing so that you can be proud of the film in the end.

What projects are you working on now?

Bydlowski: I’m developing a feature film from this short.

Are you seeing student leaders across the country support the anti-bullying movement? What perspective can kids add?

Ross Ellis: We’re seeing a lot of kids talking about bullying. We have a student participation toolkit that kids can use in the classroom, after school, and at home. We also have one for educators. We have done so much to be able to help children not bully, or if you are the victim, to be empowered.

Many famous athletes and actors have supported STOMP Out Bullying. What makes bullying an issue that resonates with so many people?

Ross Ellis: A lot of these actors and actresses have been bullied themselves. But they also feel very empathetic toward children because they don’t want to see that happen to them.

Can you share some success stories of kids triumphing over bullying?

Ross Ellis: We had one girl entering college, and she was being cyberbullied. She didn't know what to do. She was in tears. She finally contacted us. We have a help chat line that kids ages 13 to 24 can use. It’s run by graduate psychology students and social work students. With their help, she was able to work out a plan, and now she’s no longer being cyberbullied.