A conversation at a wedding sparked the idea for Hunter Williams' eight minute documentary on rural mental health titled The Monkeys on Our Backs.
"Growing up I faced mental health challenges and when a farmer (at a wedding) said to me he could tell I had monkeys on my back, and that he did too, to be honest I didn't know what he meant. I hadn't heard of the term before,'' Williams said.
The phrase means to carry a burden.
"Later when I understood, I was thankful that I lived in an urban area. Farmers live in isolated spots,sometimes with no one to talk to for weeks on end.
"They also have to deal with things outside of their control such as the weather and in Hawke's Bay they are facing a drought on top of everything else."
The 20-year-old, who was born in Hawke's Bay and moved to Auckland as a young boy, has extended family in Central Hawke's Bay.
The aspiring filmmaker decided to make a documentary as a way to highlight the challenges and mental health issues farmers face every day but never quite got around to finishing it. The farmers in the video talk about how important it is to reach out for help.
Six months ago, he bought a one way ticket to LA and settled in Sherman Oaks, California, where he worked in Hollywood for David Blaine, the famous illusionist and endurance artist.
"I can remember thinking when I was about 8 years old that I wanted to be a filmmaker just like Peter Jackson. Over the years the love for it has continued to grow. In 2018 I finished film school and just new I wanted to be in LA.
"It's the place to be if you want to be involved with the film industry and huge money is spent there.
"But when Covid-19 struck and the call went out for Kiwis to come home I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to finish the doco I started some time ago."
Phil King, a well-known farmer in Tikokino, funded the documentary. Leyton King, Phil's son, features in it along with his wife, Gretchen and children. Also in the video is NZ's Young Farmer of the Yea Lisa Kendall.
CHB mayor Alex Walker said the people who feature in the video were " heroes for putting the focus on such a sensitive and important issue".
"The timing of this documentary is magnificent. At level 4 everyone in the country was in lockdown. For many people that would have been the first time they had ever felt isolated. Our farmers live like that every day.
"Right now farmers are dealing with a severe drought on top of everything else that is going on. The Tukituki catchment is at a record low with no end in sight. Things are far from normal.
"Big parts of the district are so far in moisture deficit that even if we got some rain now it will take a long time for the land to recover.
"Farmers are bloody hard workers and everyone needs to wrap their arms around them and show them just how much we appreciate what they do," Walker said.
Williams said he would love urban people to watch and understand the video.
"I hope that people will foster a great appreciation for what the farming community do for us," he said.
■To watch the video go to www.hunterwilliams.net/themonkeysonourbacks.
WHERE TO GET HELP:
If you are worried about your own or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.
OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:
0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP) (24/7) https://www.lifeline.org.nz/services/suicide-crisis-helpline
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (24/7)
KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757 or TEXT 4202