The Bully Project is a documentary film that covers events during the 2009–2010 school year and follows students and their families from Texas, Mississippi, Georgia, Iowa and Oklahoma.
The film also covers the stories of Tyler Long and Ty Smalley, who committed suicide after being bullied.
Hirsch was a victim of bullying as a child and set out to create a documentary so that the hidden lives of bullied kids would be brought into the open.
In a screening in Minneapolis in 2011, Hirsch told the audience that he, himself, had been bullied, which was part of the inspiration for the film, and for the direction he took it. In an interview with a Twin Cities Jewish news website after the screening Hirsch continued:
“I felt that the hardest part of being bullied was communicating,” Hirsch said. “And getting help. I couldn’t enroll people’s support. People would say things like ‘get over it,’ even my own father and mother. They weren’t with me. That was a big part of my wanting to make the film. It’s cathartic on a daily basis.”
Hirsch said he hoped the film grows far beyond him, inspiring advocacy, engagement, and empowerment not just in people who are being bullied and in their families, but by those of us who all too often stand by and do nothing. He stated, “I hope we build something that’s really sustainable. I hope this takes on a life of its own.