L-R, Anthony House (director of photography), Ryan Brison (writer/director), Demetrius Diaz (creator/co-director)
BY KARIN DAVIS-THOMPSON, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — In 2015, Demetrius Diaz suffered two heart-wrenching losses when two of his closest friends committed suicide.
“I was feeling like, what more could I have done for them?” Diaz said. He wondered if they felt as though they didn’t have anyone to talk to and confide in.
“Losing them made me become more conscious of what I say to people,” he said. “It made me not take life, family and friendship for granted.
Trying to find a way to express the pain and confusion he felt after his loss, he started a video project to encourage others in pain to find help and therapy instead of harming themselves or someone else.
As the idea began to take shape, Diaz asked his friends Anthony House and Ryan Brison to join him.
Brison now serves as the director and writer for the show they call “Deleted Reality.” The project is a video series about people dealing with mental illness and the challenges and stigma that comes along with the disease.
While the series works to show the struggles of dealing with a mental illness for any race or nationality, they do stress the need for open discussion in minority communities.
“It is still something people in minority communities don’t like to talk about,” Brison said. “We have a diverse cast on all the episodes, but we do focus heavily on minority communities because we don’t think they have that platform to talk about mental health.”
Diaz agrees and says he hopes the project will help people realize how important it is to talk and to listen.
“This is a real issue in everyday life,” Diaz said. “We need to be more educated about different issues in our society that we live with on a day-to-day basis.”
The show follows two main characters; one is Christopher Collins, a life coach and mental health counselor who works with several clients dealing with some form of mental illness. As Collins offers advice to his patients in each episode, he battles “The Evil,” a representation of things coming to the surface in his own mental health.
“As he helps and advises them (his patients), it brings to the surface things that he has been suppressing but needs to deal with in some way,” Brison said.
The team began working turning “Deleted Reality” into a series in 2016 and since that time they have had the opportunity to share their work, including a recent showing at Ball Room 66 in Pinellas Park. Brison said the reception they’ve received has been amazing.
“We’ve had several viewings sold out with standing room only,” he said. “Many audience members were crying. The response we got was that it was relatable and they wished that they had tried to help people in their families or their friends and given them their undivided attention.”
The group has also attended several community events to promote the show and the message that there should be no stigma or shame in dealing with mental illness.
“We want people to know that it is important to talk about it,” Brison said. “It’s best to have that conversation and get ahead of it and speak to it to create healing at an earlier stage.”
So far there are five completed episodes with plans to shoot two more. The team is currently talking with investors to try and get picked up by one of the networks. But if that doesn’t happen, Brison said they are ready to move forward and make the show a web series with the first episode ready to view on YouTube on Feb. 28.
To learn more about the series, you can visit the group’s Facebook page by typing “Deleted Reality” in any search engine.