Words by Connie Lambeth

Photos by Fiona Hamilton

We Need To Talk. And we did – at the recent launch of the book ‘We Need to Talk’ by Sally-Anne Ward, adapted from the original screenplay of the same name, by filmmaker David M. Raynor from Bad Hat Films.

Filmmaker David M. Raynor & Author Sally-Anne Ward - 'We Need To Talk'
Filmmaker David M. Raynor & Author Sally-Anne Ward
– ‘We Need To Talk’

Fill a hip bar along Chapel Street with a wide range of guests, throw in bevvies paired with shared platters of ‘conversation starters’ like those mac ’n’ cheese fritters, add a generous sprinkle of goodwill, and you’re sure to get people talking. Guests at this special event included teachers, counsellors, authors, journalists, students, actors, celebrities, musicians, business people and members of Victoria Police, as well as Gary Lee, Young New Australian of the Year (2016).

Young New Australian of the Year (2016) - Gary Lee & guest
Young New Australian of the Year (2016) – Gary Lee

This was no ordinary book launch, with serious topics including mental health and teen suicide up for discussion. Judging on shreds of overheard conversations on the night, we felt a sense of the Melbourne community standing together to try and understand the problems facing our youth today, and to look for a way forward. There was acknowledgement too, that after a closeted past, such issues are now out in the open. Talking together is definitely an important first step. As a community we are at last up for sharing our own stories, and those of family and friends coping with issues such as bullying, anxiety, depression, isolation, and suicide.

South Yarra’s Two Wrongs (, where graffiti meets art in a luxe-grunge space, offered a playful balance to offset the book’s sober themes  – an appropriate setting for the launch of a Young Adult Novel.


The crowd soon settled into the serious side of the evening, when MC Adam Samuel (@theadamsamuel), mentioned that if we can get through the difficulties of our teen years we build up resilience which serves us well as adults, when we are better able to make good choices. His intro was so on point – if only we could get every young person over the line.

MC Adam Samuel with David Raynor, Sally-Anne Ward & Sophie Thurling
MC Adam Samuel with David Raynor, Sally-Anne Ward & Actor Sophie Thurling

David M. Raynor spoke of how his award-winning short film: We Need To Talk came about, sharing the story of a Christmas Day family lunch several years ago, when his sister, a school counsellor, received a phone call related to students on suicide watch. David was shocked. This incident, along with reflecting on his own challenges with bullying during school years, was enough to fuel David’s determination to do something to make a difference. The result was his compelling film, followed by collaboration with Sally-Anne Ward to write a book based on David’s original screenplay.


Sally-Anne Ward spoke of how she was inspired to write the novel as a mother of teenagers, with first-hand knowledge of the challenges of youth today. Living with ‘teen speak’ no doubt assisted her skilled mastery of dialogue throughout the novel, which kept the story real, even with an ‘otherwordly’ presence. Sally-Anne’s collaboration with David Raynor to create a book adaptation of the film, significantly boosts the chances  of ensuring their powerful message reaches the target audience.

Sally-Anne Ward with David Raynor & Adam Samuel
Sally-Anne Ward with David Raynor & Adam Samuel

Reality struck when the next speaker was introduced. Jennii Johnson, a Melbourne secondary school teacher, gave guests a rundown on a general day at school as she and her colleagues dealt with kids managing emotional upheaval often due to anxiety, depression, bullying and family breakdown. Stories and stats from a teacher on the ground every day, who along with her colleagues, do what they can to offer support and professional guidance, a listening ear and safe space for students – thought provoking to say the least.

Jennii Johnson (R)
Jennii Johnson (R)

Actor Sophie Thurling won an Accolade award in 2017, for her lead character role as Bree in the film. Speaking at the book launch, Sophie revealed how deeply impacted she was by playing the role of a young girl who decides to end her life when on the surface appears to have everything to live for.

Actor Sophie Thurling
Actor Sophie Thurling who plays Bree in the film: We Need To Talk

Though the tragedy of teen suicide dominates the novel’s plot, with protagonist Bree bullied to the point of taking her own life, the flip side offers up positives to prevent such tragedies among our kids. The story alerts the reader as to how suicide dramatically affects people left behind. The importance of the constant love and support of family and friends. The need to change our social media habits and replace screen time for increased face-to-face communication. The necessity to tone down the hectic pace of our lives and become more aware of what’s happening in our networks. To laugh more and find joy in each day.


There’s an authenticity, a subtle power to the book We Need To Talk.

The unvarnished honesty of the story tugs at the emotions, yet astutely leaves us with a sense of hope.

David M. Raynor has the last word when he says on his Facebook page:

“And as always from us at Bad Hat Films, remember to love and take care of each other.”


*Congratulations David and Sally-Anne – Thank you for encouraging important conversations – your passion and commitment is an inspiration.

Original Screenplay: “We Need to Talk” by David M. Raynor – Bad Hat Films (@bad_hat_films)

Original Novel: “We Need to Talk” by Sally-Anne Ward

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Age Group: 12+

Amazon link at – to purchase


**Connie was a guest of Helen Reizer HRPR (@hellreizer) – Thanks for organising this wonderful event Helen.

Connie Lambeth

The Australia Times News

Editor GOURMET – Food/Wine/Events

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READ ON FOR FURTHER DETAILS –  ‘WE NEED TO TALK’ – plus more fab pics from Fiona Hamilton

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