‘Ok not to be ok’ – ironically, the lyrics to Demi Lovato’s latest single and soundtrack behind the trailer of MTV’s newest film, ‘Pink Skies Ahead’ completely reflect the attitude of this coming of age movie that surrounds a young woman dealing with an anxiety disorder.
Based on an essay from her 2017 book, ‘When You Find Out The World Is Against: And Other Funny Memories About Awful Moments’, writer/director Kelly Oxford says the idea to transcribe her essay into a script “hit her” after noticing how drawn her readers were to it.
“I was like wow, if I can help readers I should try to get this on screen and help more people and get this story out,” Oxford says of her directorial debut behind ‘Pink Skies Ahead’. “It was really fun to do it, and I knew that I wanted to direct it myself because I had lived through it and it would’ve felt really weird to pass it off to somebody else and watch their version of it…. as the creator and writer, I was very excited to make it my first film.”
That excitement was shared with Greg Silverman, former president of Warner Bros. Pictures turned CEO and founder of Stampede Ventures. Silverman, whose resume includes films such as, ‘A Star Is Born’, ‘Crazy Rich Asians’, and ‘The Dark Night’ just to name a few, coins Oxford as a “force”.
“As soon as we started [Stampede Ventures] it was like ok well, who can we get behind that’s gonna’ make a difference and gonna’ make something incredible, and Kelly was the first person that popped into our minds,” Silverman says. “We all are so proud that we were able to be a part of [Oxford’s] first film.”
While the film is set in a 90’s-centric vibe, it deals with an all too common occurrence that everybody can relate to today – this was especially true for actress, and film lead, Jessica Barden.
“Winona was like myself…. I was very defiant, I have anxiety,” Barden says of her character. “I just hope that people watch [Pink Skies ahead], and I wanted this to contribute to people understanding that there isn’t a certain type of person that is going to get anxiety….[or] depression.”
‘Pink Skies Ahead’ follows 20-year-old Winona who struggles with accepting her anxiety disorder diagnosis while managing her life in adulthood as a recent college drop-out still living with her parents. The audience watches Winona’s feeble attempt at ignoring both the physical signs and emotional manifestation of her anxiety, which often leads her into peculiar situations.
All too familiar with dealing with Winona’s struggle within the film, Barden hopes her role can help those who may feel alone in their battle with anxiety and other issues with mental health. “If you get to a place where you can be healthy and own [anxiety], you can do amazing things with it,” says Barden with a smile.
While Lewis Pullman who plays the role of “Ben” and Winona’s love interest expressed not completely connecting to his character, he did get the sense that the audience might.
“I think everyone connects to some character [in Pink Skies Ahead],” Pullman says. “I think [Ben] is a good representation of a scape-goat of [having] this huge thing that needs to be dealt with… [but looking for] some other alleyways that I can postpone this thing that’s haunting me.”
As a part of MTV Entertainment Studios’ newest mental health initiative titled, “Mental Health Is Health”; series’ and films shown on the station will display a diverse range of stories in hopes of de-stigmatizing mental health and promoting behavioral and cultural change.
According to MTVE’s president, Chris McCarthy, “the power of storytelling….can frame the way we look at an issue”, and films such Oxford’s can create “a bigger conversation that leads to systematic change that becomes the norm.”
Tune in to MTV on Saturday, May 8th at 9:00 ET/PT on MTV for the premiere of ‘Pink Skies Ahead’!