Athletic Withdrawal (Short Film Screenplay)
A high school student and former tennis prodigy suffers an injury and learns he can no longer play the game he loves—he loses his sport, his scholarship, and his identity as a result, and spirals into a depression, At the behest of his parents, he meets with a therapist to talk about his rapidly-deteriorating mental health. Initially, he attempts to hide his feelings from the therapist, intent on going through with his plan to kill himself. However, she surprises him by revealing a series of journal entries he wrote that he never expected anyone to read. Being faced with no choice but to finally tell the truth, he begins to open up to the therapist. He actually starts to make some progress, and even considers an alternative solution. However, after the session, he gets home and sees a note from his dad, which sets him off—he starts to act on his plan. As he dumps a bottle of painkillers into his hand, with the intention of overdosing, he drops one into his lap. He reaches to grab it and feels the outline of the therapist’s card, which prompts him to call her instead.
This script models good counseling skills and promotes optimism, while dealing with Depression & Suicidal issues. The writer sheds light on the life and suffering of a person who has lost his purpose of life.
The script also shows the difficult task of managing depression and the importance of social support.
Blake's acceptance of his situation and his decision to reach out to Dr.Abaddon is the turning point.
Writer Biography - Matt Dionne
Matt Dionne is a former journalist and professional boxer. He is a graduate of York university’s Screenwriting program, and a current film production student at Toronto Film School. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including Maclean’s, and his pilot script Redwood State was a quarterfinalist for the 2020 Screencraft Screenwriting Fellowship competition. He has worked on Revenge of the Slasher (2018), which won Best Script at the 2019 Toronto International Spring of Horror and Fantasy Film Festival, and Hope for Christmas (2022), which was a semi-finalist in the 2022 Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Festival - Screenplay Competition. He has also worked as a Director, Assistant Director, Gaffer, Grip, and Editor on several student and professional film sets.
I have found that many athletes tie their identity to their sport, so when they lose their ability to compete, for many, it's like they lose a part of who they are as a person. This was the case for me. The realization that I was no longer able to play was something I struggled with - I had been an athlete my whole life, and suddenly I wasn't. I didn't know what to do with myself and my time, and I lost the structure I had in my life.
Sports provide a level of discipline and structure that few other things do - athletes have to attend practices, team meetings, workout sessions, and games. So much of our time is accounted for, and we are constantly trying to balance many things at once.
Losing this is a change that impacts our whole lives - some people are able to handle it in stride (usually those who walk away on their own terms), but many aren't, particularly those who have the choice made for them.
That’s what this story is about, a young athlete who loses his sport, and essentially loses himself.
It explores the role sport, and the loss thereof, has on the mental health of youths, and it also explores the positive and negative impacts it can have on father-son relationships.
Project Type:Short Script
Number of Pages:12
Country of Origin:Canada
Student Project:Yes - Toronto Film School