GILLETTE — Tiffani Reed and Raylee Bachtold, 18-year-old seniors at Campbell County High School, share a longtime deep friendship and motivation.
Wanting to highlight the issues with bullying in the community and Campbell County schools, they entered the state’s Safe2Tell video competition.
They’ve succeeded in many ways to tell the impact of bullying on victims, whether they’re kids or adults.
They’ve also succeeded in a competition, winning a statewide contest and earning cash for themselves and their journalism class.
Ironically, they weren’t speaking to each other at the time they started the project. They were arguing.
The pair thought it might be the end of a 14-year friendship, but the argument and video had the opposite effect.
The film project and what they hoped to accomplish helped tighten a bond that had been strained by some tension.
“We were sitting next to each other (in journalism class) and we weren’t speaking. We were yelling,” Bachtold said.
“I realized what we were arguing about was stupid,” Reed added.
They said their hope is the film project will now open the eyes of Gillette in a similar way.
It was a project they started in October, modeled after the movie “A Girl Like Her.”
They used conversations from CCHS students, teachers, the school resource officer and the school’s first-year principal to discuss bullying. They filmed them in black and white, giving a sparse feel to the discussion. It mirrored what victims of bullying often feel.
Reed and Bachtold have been victims of bullying. Both also have lost someone they loved from suicide or watched others deal with depression caused by bullying or hurtful remarks.
Reed said she’s struggled with depression since seventh grade. Bullying has made that worse, often causing her to doubt herself.
The Safe2Tell videos could be up to 5 minutes long. Reed and Bachtold had enough for a 10-minute feature. After cutting, they came up with a story that’s 5:01 minutes in length.
“It starts the topic,” Reed said about generating discussion surrounding bullying and suicide.
But it also took a redo.
Their journalism teacher, Claire Carter, didn’t assist in the process, but did tell them with just two class periods to go before the entry was due that “it wasn’t good enough,” Reed said.
In those final two classes, the duo set out to re-shoot the video with one question.
“I started crying,” Reed said of her initial reaction. “I didn’t know if we could get it done. We didn’t think we would make it.”
But their anti-bullying video was ranked among the top five in Wyoming in the first round of competition. Also making the top five were videos submitted from Sheridan and Cheyenne. Three of the final projects were from Gillette: two from CCHS students and a third from Thunder Basin High School.
Carter taught all six students who teamed up to create the three videos.
“I’m proud of them,” she said, pointing to Reed and Bachtold. “They actually listened to me. ... What amazed me is these girls took it personally. They took it to heart.”
As a result, they won $250 each for their efforts and $500 for the journalism class, which will be used to buy a new video camera.
“I’m thrilled. It’s a win, win,” Carter said. “I’m glad they won because they deserved it.”
The biggest move for the young filmmakers may have been choosing to make the video in black and white.
They also made other choices, including placing the Safe2Tell logo throughout the video, and a record button symbol that flashes red.
They wrote the questions for the video, but it’s the nine-member cast that conveys the meaning. The questions are flashed across the screen.
“At the end of the day, I didn’t do it for the money. I just wanted to bring it out,” Reed said.
Then they echo each other’s words: “It’s possibly the best video I’ve ever done.”
Safe2Tell isn’t the only group that agrees.
The video has received 46,000 views on Reed’s Facebook page and 800 views on YouTube under the CCHS journalism tag.