#1062: Exploring Teenage Mental Health in “Weird Times” Animated VR Episodic Series

Weird Times is an 5-part, VR episodic series that explores issues of teenage mental health that’s produced by the teach at Flight School and executive produced by Meta’s VR for Good. The first two episodes premiered at SXSW, and focus on Depression and ADHD, while future episodes will explore themes of body shaming, coming out as LGBTQ, and challenges of cultural integration.

The series is intended to provide a first-person perspective of an archetypal experience of different mental health conditions to help break sociological taboos on the topic, start conversations, and build empathy amongst fellow students and adults for a range of different issues. It uses a hand-drawn, animated and motion graphic aesthetic, which opens up a lot more metaphoric explorations of these topics, but it’s also striving to replicated the teenager’s inner monologues with an authentic voice.

I spoke to co-director and animator Ryan Hartsell as well as consulting producer and Youth Advisor Chloe Combi at their premiere at SXSW to talk about the journey of producing this series, the target audiences, and upcoming impact campaigns to raise awareness of teenage mental health.

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Music: Fatality