Private Project


This short experimental diary film reveals my struggles with mental illness in my adolescence and queer adulthood while simultaneously reflecting upon my joyous childhood experiences. I investigate when and how my depression began and explain that my relationships with the people I love have supported me through my harder times. The film incorporates footage shot over May and June 2023 and archival home videos. Overall, I aim to resolve my "growing pains" through the medium of diary film and by reconnecting with my younger self.

  • Grace Eaton
  • Grace Eaton
  • Grace Eaton
  • Grace Eaton
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Short, Student
  • Runtime:
    7 minutes 31 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 22, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    0 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - University of Toronto
  • CIN 360 Special Screening: "Private Universe" at Robarts Library
    Toronto, Ontario
    July 14, 2023
Director Biography - Grace Eaton

Writing has been a passion of mine since I was four years old and had my dad scribe a knock-off Cinderella story I wrote on a booklet of construction paper. Since this time, I have pursued both film and creative writing, specializing in documentary and diary filmmaking, poetry, and short stories. I love to explore the world through art of all mediums and connect to others through its beauty. My main goal with my work is to bring people together through a shared emotional experience.

At the moment, I am majoring in Cinema Studies with minors in Creativity and Society (creative writing) and Sexual Diversity Studies (or queer and trans studies). Along with my artistic goals, I hope to pursue a life working in the field of LGBTQ+ activism as a queer person myself.

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Director Statement

This short film of mine discusses themes of depression and growing up through a nonnarrative and avant-garde style. As a queer person who has struggled with depression for most of my adolescence and young adult life so far, through the modes of experimental documentary and diary film, I reveal this journey and reflect upon my childhood.

The mise-en-scène and cinematography of my film feature both recent footage that I shot over the past two months (May and June 2023) on my Canon m50 camera and archival home videos of family and friends, some of which were shot on a toy camera I had at the time. I decided to incorporate both recent and archival footage in my film so that I could illuminate the striking nostalgia I feel when I reflect on my childhood. Videos of myself and my brother laughing when we were little are juxtaposed with isolated self-portraits that illuminate the depression and identity struggles I have experienced in my adult queer life. Today, I wonder where all that youthful cheeriness went. How did my depression develop? Could I pinpoint an age or date that it shifted? Through my visual diary, I hope to investigate these personal questions and grapple with my mental illness.

When the visuals are edited together with the music and voiceovers of my film, this theme is revealed. The sound mix is composed of an ambient and sombre music track, an ambient recording from a GO Train trip I took, and various voiceovers. The voiceovers primarily consist of me talking about my experiences with depression and growing up as a queer person. However, only certain phrases of the non-diegetic voiceovers have subtitles while none of the diegetic sounds do. This is because I wanted to only emphasize key sentences. As such, when put together, the sound mix becomes a jumble of noise which is intentionally challenging to understand at some points. The sound mix of my film is like a song with multiple voices singing different melodies. The main vocalist is the non-diegetic voiceover, while the other voices contribute to fostering the heavy and emotional tone of my film. This sombre sound mix contrasts with the joyous images onscreen to heighten my film’s themes even more.

Furthermore, I wanted to accentuate the theme of depression through the film’s overall concept of “layering.” Visually, layers of different video clips on top of each other and superimpositions represent this idea. The sound layering and mixing functions similarly. These overwhelming images and sounds have both a technical and thematic purpose. Through these experimental methods, it is illuminated that the route of my depression relates to linearity. For me, the passing of time feels as if it is layering onto me. My childhood memories mix with the memories of my current age in a nonlinear fashion, and I grieve my younger self while grappling with the reality of my maturity. As I reflect on my childhood, I remember how close my brother and I were. Now, as a twenty-year-old, I have new loved ones and friends that I have met in my adult life but my connections with my family and older friends live on as well. Love and my queer identity makes my life nonlinear. My eternal love for all the people in my life connects my childhood experiences to my adulthood. By being nonlinear in form and content, my diary film aims to challenge normativity and convey my own truth. My identity has been formed through a process of continuous layering such that my past is "layered" with my present and my queer sexuality and gender as well.

Overall, this film is a compilation of my lived loved experiences and internal struggle to love myself as unconditionally as I love others. It illustrates the love I sometimes forget to see, even though it is always and will always be here, with me.