Inspired by a true story, The Fat Boy Chronicles reveals the emotionally painful world obese teens experience in the face of a thin-obsessed society. At age fourteen. 5’5 Jimmy weighs 187 pounds. Outside the comfort of his family and church, life for Jimmy is a constant struggle. The cruel taunts of his classmates make going to school or playing sports a humiliating experience. Yet, he still manages to focus on his goals — to lose weight and win over the girl of his dreams.
Occasionally, a movie comes along that makes you question how you lived your life. The Fat Boy Chronicles is one of those movies. Whether you have been bullied or been the bully – there’s something to relate to here, and there’s something to talk about after the film is over… Which is exactly what executive producer/writer Michael Buchanan and Diane Lang along with director Jason Winn have been doing. The film’s crew and cast have been taking the film around to schools around the country for special screenings followed by Q/A sessions, and according to Michael Buchanan it’s really making a difference.
After a recent class that Buchanan spoke to at Kennesaw State for teachers-to-be, an athletic young man came up to Buchanan and said, “I read your book. About halfway through, I put the book down and got on Facebook. I found this guy I went to high school with.” He looked away and then back to Buchanan with a nod. “I wrote him and apologized for how I treated him. I wanted you to know that.”
Buchanan admitted that this encounter brought tears to his eyes and all that he could do was shake his hand. But the stories of those being affected by the book as well as the film don’t stop there. Buchanan also gave a talk at a middle school in North Carolina and the principal approached him afterwards informing him that every kid in the school had read the book, all 1200 of them.
“I want you to know,” she started, “that if what I’m about to tell you is the only thing that happened as a result of our school reading your book, then it was worth it. John, a smallish 8th grader, came up to me and said, ‘Mrs. Gardner, Fred has been picking on me for years. And, last week, he started again. But, I looked him in the eye and said. “Aren’t you reading the same book I am?'”
Mrs. Gardner paused, her eyes tearing up. “Then John told me Fred’s answer. He said Fred stepped back from him and said, ‘Yeah, I’m reading that book. And, you know what? I’m sorry…and it won’t happen again'”
By the time she finished telling Buchanan this, the principal had tears in her eyes.
The cast and crew knew that this film had the potential to do just that – change lives. Being a part of this film has been an incredibly special experience for those involved especially director Jason Winn.
“When you set out to make any picture you do the best you can with what you have to work with. You always hope that in the end the audiences will love the film. With The Fat Boy Chronicles we knew that we were making a special film with the potential to maybe even save some lives. The remarkable thing about Cinema is how it affects different people. As we tour with the film across the country I’ve seen kids that engage the screen, adults that cry like babies and even the callous of teenagers show some shred of empathy. I feel that The Fat Boy Chronicles promotes discussion on these very important topics and that ultimately discussion and awareness leads to change I am honored to have been a part of the project.” says director Jason Winn.
The Fat Boy Chronicles was screened in Roswell, Georgia last month, and I had the pleasure of attending the screening. The movie is not only beautifully constructed, but it definitely succeeds in delivering a strong message. One might expect a movie on this topic to be dark and emotionally draining, but instead it delivers hope – which is exactly what young boys and girls who are being singled out and picked on need- hope.
I was a total nerd in high school. Good grades and making websites were my priority, so naturally I endured harassment from my fellow classmates (a different harassment than the main character in this story – but I can still completely relate). Now, I’m glad that I was the nerd – and that I came through that experience as a stronger person, but at the time when it’s happening – it’s hard to know that it will be okay. Conveying that message to a younger crowd is a challenge, letting them know that it will be okay in the end is not always something they hear when they’re immersed in a bad situation. The Fat Boy Chronicles promotes discussion on this topic that has affected all of us at one point or another in our lives. No one escapes high school completely unscathed.
It’s wonderful that this film and book is making a difference to those who are in these situations, whether they are the bully or the one being bullied. We wish the cast and crew of The Fat Boy Chronicles the best of luck in their continue efforts to spread the word about this important issue.
For more information on the film, the book, and how you can check out both, visit the official site here: http://www.thefatboychronicles.com/
- March 5th- (1pm, 3pm, 5pm) Aurora Cineplex in Roswell, GA (Christopher Rivera, Michael Buchanan, and Dr. Wulkan in attendance)
- March 6th (6pm) Dunwoody United Methodist Church (Christopher Rivera, Michael Buchanan, and Jason Winn in attendance)
Article By: Emma Loggins