Ohio filmmaker battles bullying

Associated Press

December 22, 2003

ZANESVILLE - Thomas Brown still remembers being ridiculed in gym class for being overweight, and he knows the harm school bullies can inflict.

"I was tortured as a kid," Brown said.

Now 48, the filmmaker is trying to help end bullying at schools through his films.

Films from his company, Broken Toy Project, have been used in about 30,000 schools in the United States and overseas, Brown said.

Brownís latest film, Empty Shadows, is the sixth in a series of anti-bullying films. A Zanesville parish donated $7,000 to pay for copies of the film to be sent to all the school districts in the state.

The 35-minute film tells the story of an orphaned girl placed in a new school who is taunted by other girls and how she overcomes the ordeal.

"We never talked about bullying when I was growing up. Itís been considered a part of growing up," he said. "There is no excuse for that anymore."

Kayleen Hayhurst was one of about 300 Roosevelt Middle School seventh- and eighth-graders who were first to see the movie Friday.

"I think itís really good for kids that have been bullied," she said. "It gives them hope."