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PMK•BNC, Lee Meltzer
ABOUT THE FILM
Can you make a movie while having mental illness? Bud Clayman is doing it.
Will making a documentary about your mental illness change your life? Maybe.
Mental illness interrupted his dream of a filmmaking career. Thirty years later, he’s making the movie of his life. Bud Clayman is one of films’ most unlikely heroes. This is a personal story with universal relevance—a wildly original documentary of pain and vulnerability, empowerment, and Bud’s quest for belonging.
Throughout his youth, Bud’s future was filmmaking. After college in Philadelphia, he headed to Hollywood in search of a break. Instead, he had a breakdown. As mental illness struck, it stuck. When distress and isolation set in, the diagnoses followed. For eight years, Bud lived in a therapeutic community.
Without waiting for his illness to vanish, Bud has reclaimed his quest as a filmmaker. As his camera chronicles the ups and downs of recovery, we also see the experience of what he calls “the fight inside my head.” Behind the lens, a parallel journey unfolds as Bud the Director grapples with the challenges of making an incisive, highly personal documentary—a movie that he believes will transform his life.
Through video diaries, Bud reveals eye-opening glimpses of his inner world, including OC87, an altered state of mind named by Bud and his therapist. “My mind becomes filled with intrusive thoughts that over-analyze every action and idea,” he says. “As my awareness becomes dominated by themes of control and mental commands, OC87 causes me to lose touch with not only my feelings, but also social connection.” It also gets in the way of ordinary living: riding a bus, getting in an elevator, unclogging a drain. As a long standing struggle, OC87 is embedded in Bud’s pent-up confrontation of a former mentor—a moment that‘s been brewing for thirty years.
When problems hit the fan, Bud sometimes feels defeated. More often, he draws strength and skills from therapy, humor, and relationships. Even so, he feels different, and the stigma of mental illness is fierce. Curious about the roots of healing and recovery, Bud’s journey unfolds. He talks with a psychologist (Jon Grayson, PhD) about his current OCD and Asperger’s problems. After visiting his former residential treatment program, Bud criss-crosses the country to connect with a television daytime drama star with Bipolar Disorder (Maurice Benard, General Hospital) and a radio news anchor with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (Jeff Bell, KCBS). The arc of Bud’s story also includes his parents, whose sharply different views of their son affirm a common struggle—and an uncommon love. On the romantic front, Bud goes speed dating at a local bar. Weeks later, a creative urge sparks him to write (and later star in) a campy sci-fi episode about an inner duel—a conflict familiar to each of us.
Meanwhile, directing this documentary film stretches Bud in ways that ultimately recast his quest. From the shadows of suffering, a portrait of imperfect courage emerges—a testament to acceptance, change, and hope.
THE CREATIVE TEAM
Bud Clayman: Director, Writer, Principal Subject Bud was a young adult in college (Radio-Television-Film; Temple University) when mental illness struck. Over the years, he has been diagnosed with major depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and most recently with Asperger’s syndrome.
After graduation, Bud worked as a film and video production assistant before moving to Los Angeles, where he was a freelance script reader for Ridley Scott’s Too Magic Productions. In the wake of severe depression, Bud returned to Philadelphia. His emotional problems worsened and he entered a long-term residential treatment program.
Bud gradually got better. After a multi-year job gap, he worked as a wedding video editor, which he described as a safe harbor. He enjoyed the job, and it naturally invited him to practice self-management skills. He also met new people outside of the world of treatment. Bud moved forward, punctuated by episodic setbacks. He currently lives by himself in Philadelphia and receives outpatient therapy for help with his OCD and Asperger’s Syndrome. Several years ago, Bud’s father established the Clayman Family Foundation to support mental health advocacy and other social services. Today, Bud manages its day-to-day operations.
As a filmmaker, Bud’s vision of this documentary is clear. “I want people to understand that there is more to mental illness than pain and problems. My recovery is about acceptance and getting on with life.”
Glenn Holsten: Director Glenn is an award-winning director of documentary films. His most recent work, Saint of 9/11, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, followed by theatrical release and distribution (Netflix and Comcast). His other works include Jim in Bold, Thomas Eakins: Scenes from Modern Life, and Heartland. National PBS production credits include Mothers March, The Sounds of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Diary, The Great Comet Crash, and Neptune All Night. He also directed An Angel in the Village, Gay Bingo, and MURAL. In collaboration with the MIT Media Lab, Glenn developed a prototype for the interactive documentary Intersections at Third and Indiana. Having directed documentaries in eight countries, he also traveled to Mongolia to teach creative methods of television storytelling.
A number of Glenn’s documentaries have focused on the people and arts of Philadelphia; his works were exhibited in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s 20th Century Video Gallery.
A graduate of University of Pennsylvania (English), Glenn is the recipient of a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, an Independence Foundation Fellowship in the Arts, and a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship. His works have been featured at numerous film festivals. He has received sixteen regional Emmy Awards, as well as gold and silver Innovation Awards from Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Glenn is a faculty member of University of the Arts.
Scott Johnston: Director, Writer Scott’s background is a blend of psychology, writing, and media production. After college (Communications and English; Butler University), he wrote and produced for an advertising agency before entering the developmental disabilities field, followed by a career in psychiatric rehabilitation. Scott helped start Greystone House, a residential program at Friends Hospital for adults with serious mental illness. After graduate school (Counseling Psychology; Temple University), he worked as a staff psychologist at a private psychiatric hospital. In addition to other clinical duties, he created a media-based therapy. With training in field production (Sony Institute of Video Arts) and screenwriting (Screenwriters’ Guild), Scott directed a research documentary, Rhythms of Recovery, and worked as a media arts consultant. He developed Crestwood, a residential treatment program for adolescents with complex emotional problems. Following this, he managed an inner-city children’s literacy program, and for five years was a contributing writer-photographer for two periodicals about people with disabilities.
Scott was Director of Program Development at Project Transition, the apartment-based treatment program where Buddy resided for eight years. Scott has been intensively trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Active in the mental health advocacy movement, he is also on the Psychology faculty of Arcadia University, and is a Board member of WOAR (Philadelphia), the country’s first rape counseling center.
Kathleen Soulliere: Editor Kathy brings to this project over thirty years of film and video editing experience. After graduating from Antioch College, she received a two-year post-production grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Having worked at commercial facilities and PBS affiliates across the country, Kathy’s credits include internationally and nationally screened films, documentary and performing arts programs, as well as commercials, political spots, and corporate projects. Since 1997, Kathy’s primary focus has been independent film and television editorial. She has edited critically acclaimed works that have won film festival, Emmy, and commercial awards. They include Saint of 9/11, Stone Reader, STRUT!, Maggie Growls, and others. Some have been screened or acquired by MOMA, Yale University, Gene Siskel Film Center (Art Institute of Chicago), INPUT (International Public Television Screening Conference), the Smithsonian, and the Louvre.
Daniel Traub: Director of Photography Daniel Traub is an award winning documentary director of photography (film/video) and still photographer. From 1999–2007, he lived in China where he filmed numerous documentaries and reports for European and American television networks including PBS, National Geographic, German Television ZDF, and Arte. As a photographer, his projects have explored marginalized communities and border regions in the midst of crisis and transformation. Daniel’s images have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, London Telegraph Magazine, and Time. His work has also been exhibited in
Asia, Europe, the United States, and is in the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. [www.danieltraub.net]
Michael Aharon: Original Music Michael Aharon is an Argentina-born, Philadelphia-raised, New York-dwelling composer and multi-instrumentalist. Since the beginning, his work has followed two parallel streams; a strong attraction to the imaginative use of electronic and digital sound techniques, and an equally strong affinity for the organic and emotive qualities of acoustic music.
He spent his early career performing as a singer-songwriter, a jazz pianist, and a cellist in chamber ensembles. He toured the world for a few years playing cello and bass in the Appalachian folk band Trapezoid, and conversely was also an early pioneer in computer-based music production during those years, creating audio logos for clients including Heinz and Bell Atlantic. He then branched out into album production, producing numerous albums for folk artists and spending several years at Philadelphia’s famed Sigma Sound Studios, where he arranged hit tracks for pop artists such as Backstreet Boys, Dru Hill, Patti LaBelle and Mya. He has performed on
over 70 CDs.
In 1992 he formed Maja Music, a music-for-picture studio which started as a single room and grew to a 4-studio complex in Old City Philadelphia. He moved to New York and opened his current studio, Quiver, in 2007. He has composed for TV (Dawson’s Creek, Nickelodeon) composed and produced soundtracks for award-winning films (The Brothers McMullen, Saint of 9/11, Always Will) and scored countless TV commercials.
In 2008, he composed music for The Philadelphia Phillies and Barack Obama, who subsequently won The World Series and the Presidency, respectively.
Michael plays piano, cello, guitars, bass, and a variety of string and percussion instruments.
Missy Moyer: Line Producer Missy Moyer is a seasoned physical production specialist who has been working in the film business for eighteen years. A member of the Producers Guild, she has packaged feature film projects and built budgets for Killer Films, Navidi Productions, Peter Newman Productions, Rainstorm Entertainment; and for directors Karyn Kusama and Bill Duke among others. She has been on the crews of Beloved, The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Ocean’s Eleven, The Woodsman, Watermelon Woman, Diary of a City Priest, Explicit Ills, Bottomfeeders, The Failures and Kurbaan. A member of the Screen Actors Guild, she has also been in the casts of Philadelphia, Twelve Monkeys, Two Bits, Up Close and Personal, The Woodsman, Rounding First and the television series Hack.
Prior to working in the entertainment industry, Missy had a consulting company specializing in resourcing, strategic services and systems design for such clients as The City of Philadelphia, The Franklin Institute Science Museum, The Foundation for Architecture and The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, as well as restaurants, service businesses, artists, and “The New Art Examiner” magazine. She then created and ran the custom business and personal services company Corporate Concierge Ltd. in Philadelphia and Chicago.
Title Design and Graphic Sequences Flux is a design studio based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Incorporated in 2000 by principals Jon and Prilla Rohrer, the studio concentrates in brand communications for business and non profit organizations. Selected work can be viewed at www.fluxism.com.
Bud Clayman This is a film about coping. It is a film about learning to live with oneself in the real world. My name is Bud Clayman and I am one of the directors of OC87. The title OC87 refers to a state I was in in 1987 when I tried to control my whole world. I literally tried to be independent of everyone and everything around me. If someone would go to make small talk with me, I would remain silent. If someone would try to help me, I would refuse that help. This film is my coming out party so to say. It is a rebirth for me which I think everybody should have. It is a letting go of the shackles and demons that have haunted me most of my life. It is my personal liberation.
The challenges on this film have been many, both good and bad. Learning to manage other people, working in a cooperative manner with others, and asserting my creative vision with people who have by far many more years of experience at this than I do have been difficult for me. But succeeding at these things and gaining my power both as a person and then as an artist have been the most satisfying for me.
Ironically, twenty two years later from when my former so-called independence started, because of this film I am now interdependent with people. Everyone on this film and everyone around me has helped me grow and mature as a human being. They have helped me begin to love and learn from life again. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
Scott Johnston Early on, the working title of this documentary was “Journey,” which remains a terrific description of the trip it’s been.
Buddy and I met about four years ago. He wanted to make a film about the struggles, relief, and hope of mental illness. I was on board with the mission, and his enthusiasm won me over. Also, at a personal level, Buddy was enjoyable and intriguing—friendly, smart, funny, and quirky. The process drew me in, too. This was an opportunity for Buddy to reclaim his voice as a filmmaker and to advocate for social change.
The early story development was daunting. Buddy’s attention would often drift. Sometimes he was pinned down by the tyranny of OCD, the subtle “disconnects” of Asperger’s, or a blend of the two. We dealt with it while searching for the storyline’s arc. Buddy turned on when I suggested that his ongoing recovery could be the movie’s narrative frame. In his living room—amidst piles of books—we wrote scene ideas on 3×5 cards, then arranged them on the floor to connect the dots of themes and subplots.
We talked about the personal pros and cons of self-disclosure as a core process of the filmmaking. Buddy believed that his openness was critical to OC87’s mission. I remain struck by the courage of a person who opened such an expansive window of disclosure— for two years, Buddy lived in the camera’s eye. This effort was matched by the generosity and candor of his parents, Mort and Lila Clayman. I have learned from all of this.
Although Buddy wanted very much to be the movie’s sole creative driver, this shifted over time. As we approached pre-production, our recipe courted chaos: three Directors (“D3”), one of whom doubles as the principal subject (who has mental illness).
Making a documentary requires sustained interdependence and exposure to ambiguity. This posed a host of new challenges for Buddy, many of which invited the dance of acceptance and change. Tangible control is important to him—it reduces risk and uncertainty. Sometimes I lost sight of this. When friction sparked between us, it was always followed by our rapid repair. Through it all, our appreciation of weird humor never waned—this has been a resource in our relationship.
Our third Director, Glenn Holsten, brought advanced directing and filmmaking chops to OC87, as well as compassion and leadership. During our first meeting with Glenn, he recommended three other primary contributors: editor Kathy Soulliere, DP Daniel Traub, and composer Michael Aharon. Our creative well was deep. As a team, we clicked and cooked.
Compared to four years ago, Buddy today is much more focused and present. Down the road, my hope is that Buddy experiences this film as a realization of his goals to help others and to experience connection—with others and within.
Although we know each other quite well, Buddy remains a bit of a riddle. We sometimes don’t follow each other’s thinking. We are both OK with that. I appreciate Buddy and am indebted to his friendship and bravery. He is a person whose zaniness, recovery gains, and gentle values are not far from a private hell of difficult thoughts and social confusion. In the big picture, Buddy’s life seems to keep getting better.
Glenn Holsten Soon after Buddy asked me to work on OC87, he boldly stated that aside from his own personal transformation, he wanted “everyone who is part of this film to be changed” as a result of working on the project. Two years later, I’m not sure if Buddy has experienced the complete transformation that he was initially seeking. I do know, however, that I have been deeply affected by this journey.
Buddy and I are about the same age. We went to college at the same time. We wanted the same things from life—a healthy family life including the love and support of a caring partner, kids perhaps, and a satisfying career.
Mental illness interrupted his filmmaking career just as mine was taking off. There’s a poetry in our working together.
The element of change or chance is a big part of documentary filmmaking. You have to live with the idea that you can’t control all of the various elements that make up filming—health, weather, access, or what someone is going to say. You do your best to create the right conditions for what you hope will happen, and then roll with it.
My on-the-job learning curve about Buddy’s diagnoses has shown me that Asperger’s syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder seem like a one-two punch that should thwart anyone diagnosed with these mental illnesses from their dreams of making a documentary. But Buddy persevered. I credit our special directing unit (there are three of us: Buddy, Scott Johnston and myself. We call ourselves D3) along with an exceptionally sensitive DP and editor (Daniel Traub, Kathleen Soulliere) for our success. We are a team that—like most people in this world—have had close ties to people living with mental illness.
How have I changed? I have a deeper understanding of and sensitivity to the perhaps hellish journeys that fellow travelers in life may be experiencing in the most common of places—buses, elevators, diners. I have a heightened sensitivity to people I pass on the street who might not be able to look me in the eye when I greet them. I don’t assume to understand how someone receives a message, until they tell me. I have a greater appreciation for my own ability to navigate different social situations. And, as Buddy says in the film, I live with the risk. Working on the film has reminded me of how delicate life is.
Production highpoints include the creative challenge of translating for an audience Buddy’s lived experience of mental anguish. At times there was tension on the set and in the editing room, the natural byproduct of a creative process involving a team of three directors. Working through those ideas was a great challenge, and satisfying at this end of the project. My favorite memory is laughing in the editing room. Buddy is a very funny man. I hope he feels good about his place in the world.
KEY PRODUCTION CREDITS
Director of Photography
Title Design and Graphic Sequences
Joe Meccariello, Jr.
Fresh Fly, LLC
A Fisher Klingenstein Films Release