AN independent filmmaker from Erskine is hoping his latest project will inspire young people struggling with mental health issues and substance abuse to keep pursuing their dreams.

Robert Spence, 32, has assembled a crew for his short film Marli, inspired by his experiences working for a drug and alcohol youth service – based in Perth, Australia – which has a music program.

Written and produced by Robert, the film tells the story of a teenage girl struggling with substance abuse but who later unlocks a talent for singing.

The former Park Mains High pupil described the experience of making his own short film as a “rollercoaster”.

He told The Gazette: “Going from just an idea to having multiple people involved has been amazing. 

“I’ve also had the pleasure of working with a local recording artist called Ani Karu, who has written and recorded original songs for this film.

“The biggest challenge so far has been finding sponsorship and financing this film. Although it’s a story with a great message, Covid has made financing independent films difficult.”

Before moving to Australia last year, Robert did support work for a number of years with adults struggling with their mental health for the Paisley-based charity Recovery Across Mental Health (RAMH).

He later became involved with projects that were entered into the Mental Health Film Festival, where he performed on stage with RAMH clients to boost mental health awareness.

Robert hopes that this latest project will put a spotlight on how detox programs can have a massive impact on young people living in Renfrewshire and beyond.

He said: “It will be entered into multiple film festivals and I’ll be approaching all of the local authorities and the Scottish Government to help get this project out to the wider community. 

“The message I hope viewers take away from this film is that anybody has potential regardless of their circumstances, and that anyone can follow their dreams.”

The film has now gone into post-production after filming for the project wrapped up in August, with Robert even having plans to develop Marli into a feature-length film.

He added: “I would say this is a project that has community spirit with a nice message. There’s no money in independent filmmaking, therefore all of the money going towards this film is helping in making the film. 

“The more support we gain, the better film we can make.”

To support the project, visit GoFundMe.