CHS student with ADHD creates animated video to better explain challenges

  • Concord High student Evan Marcus with an image from his 20-minute short film that focuses on ADHD. Courtesy illustration

  • Olivia Burdette

Monitor staff
Published: 8/4/2020 3:53:06 PM

Evan Marcus, a rising senior at Concord High School, has spent most of his life surrounded by misinformation about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. After watching a YouTube video of someone self-diagnosing themselves with ADHD last spring, Marcus, who has ADHD himself, decided to do something to show people the truth behind the stereotypes.

“None of what the YouTuber had said was actually correct,” said Marcus, who was shown the video by a friend who also has ADHD. “So, we did the logical thing and we started writing a play about it, as one does.”

Marcus became determined to create something that would communicate real educational information about ADHD to a young audience. He went home that night and started researching and writing the play.

Over the next few months, Marcus continued writing, and friends and classmates cycled in and out of participating – at one moment he had a full cast, and the next, everyone dropped out. With no cast but a full script written in January, Marcus was still determined to make his play happen. He gathered a whole new cast of students who didn’t get cast in the CHS spring musical, and scheduled the first performance of the play at Rundlett Middle School. He was all set to go. And then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Suddenly, all Marcus’s plans were squandered yet again. With no way to rehearse and no way to safely perform the play for an entire eighth-grade class, “once again the show was dead. It was me, a script, and no way to actually do it,” Marcus said.

Marcus’s dad suggested he turn the script into a podcast. But without the visual aspect, he felt it still wasn’t quite complete. So, Marcus dusted off his animation skills from a childhood hobby and got to work.

After three months, 300 pieces of unique art, hundreds of hours, and “a lot of headache,” Marcus created Hyperfocus, a 20-minute animated short film about Brandon, a teenager struggling with and finally coming to terms with his ADHD.

Marcus used photos of the actors in different poses taken over Zoom video calls to create the characters, then blurred their faces and put filters on the animation to give it a comic-book look. The final product is full of three-dimensional-feeling backgrounds, one-liner jokes, and doodles.

The story itself is extremely personal to Marcus, who had a “very rocky journey” with his own ADHD.

“My mom would be able to tell you endless stories about me screwing something up because I wanted to press the shiny button or pull the lever,” he said.

In middle school, Marcus had one teacher who didn’t understand his need to doodle in order to pay attention in class, and believed he was deliberately trying to insult her. School was “not a pretty scene” for a while, Marcus said. But once he finally got diagnosed with ADHD and found a medication and classroom accommodations that worked for him, life became “so much easier.”

“ADHD and a lot of other disorders like it are best handled when everyone is on board and in the know,” Marcus said. “That’s the message I want to push with Hyperfocus – ADHD isn’t a bad thing. It’s just something you have to understand and accommodate accordingly.”

With Hyperfocus finally finished and published on YouTube – more than a year since the idea’s inception – Marcus is excited for it to be used as an educational tool in as many classrooms as possible. He has made deals with Rundlett Middle School, Shaker Road School, Concord High School, and another school in New York to show the animation in health classes, and Marcus has designed a lesson plan with discussion questions to go along with the video.

Ultimately, the goal is to personalize the story of ADHD and help middle schoolers empathize and understand the issue.

“We wanted to show that this is happening to people their age,” he said. “This isn’t some giant conglomerate telling you ‘Hey, ADHD is a problem, get scared.’ This is something that’s real, that’s really affecting people, and that’s what we want to get out there.”




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