Born from a motivation to do something to highlight and change New Zealand’s alarming suicide statistics, Auckland creative agency Augusto’s five-part web series ‘Jessica’s Tree’ last night continued its stellar run of success taking out the Best Web Series award at the Huawei NZ TV Awards.
The series shares the account of two young women battling for life; while 23-year-old Director Jazz Thornton survived her own attempts at suicide, she lost her friend Jess. In the series Thornton revisits the last 24 hours of Jess’ life, talking to those who were closest to her to find out what light Jess’ death can shed on how we can and should change our view of suicide as a community.
Through its broadcast on NZHerald.co.nz the series has reached a huge number of viewers and last week also won the award for Best Show (Episodic) at the NZ Webfest.
Director Jazz Thornton had this to say on the win: “I think it’s incredible that the New Zealand TV awards would honour a series that is about one of the hardest topics – Suicide. This series was created to shine a spotlight on mental health, but more importantly help shape the way we understand and respond to mental health – and it is doing just that! If you told the girl still in film school who was pitching this series idea, that it would receive this award she would have never believed you. Honoured & humbled.”
Executive Producer Cass Avery adds, “This was a project that we knew was important, it needed to be made, but it wasn’t at all straightforward and we knew we were treading into territory that was considered high risk. It needed extraordinary care and with total commitment from the team. Augusto doesn’t shy away from what’s hard but I have to say this project was one for us that took that to a new place but it worked because the right people were there to tell this story. Jazz Thornton is a force of nature with absolute focus on her mission to advocate for mental health and suicide reduction and with family a key part of this story and we were fortunate to have the team at NZME and NZ On Air alongside. Our determination with ‘Jessica’s Tree’ was to use the power of a story to create change and Jessica’s Tree has shown the true potential of that. We have received thousands of messages from people who have found help and support from this project it continues to be viewed, shared and posted all over the world.”
Producer Alex Reed continues: “I’m incredibly proud of ‘Jessica’s Tree’ and how amazing that it was recognised by NZ TV Awards this year! We knew that we had to step with great care through such sensitive territory but ultimately I think we’ve shown that it’s okay to be open about suicide. Everyone who worked on this show followed Jazz’s lead and put a piece of their heart into it and that I think is what the audience responded to.”