“Mental Illness: The Movie” doesn’t quite sound like the summer blockbuster that many people go to film school with the dream of making. But filmmaker Bud Clayton has stepped out from behind the camera to give the world a look into his mind in his new documentary “OC87: The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depressive, Bipolar, Asperger’s Movie.”
According to Clayman, “The intention basically was to combat mental illness stigma in America and around the world.”
Clayman majored in film at Temple University but his dreams of pursuing a moviemaking career were put on hold following his bout with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) which took hold of his life in 1987.
OCD can manifest in many ways, from obsessive thoughts to compulsive rituals. Individuals struggling with OCD might have a variety of symptoms including intrusive thoughts, obsessive hand-washing, hoarding, as well as nervous rituals like opening and closing a door a certain amount of times before leaving a room.
In Clayman’s case he experienced pervasive violent thoughts. His disorder causes him to obsess on these thoughts to the point that it interferes with his life. However, Clayman’s treatment has helped him realize that the violent thoughts he experiences are actually fairly common, though for most people they are fleeting.
“Basically, I have a lot of violent thoughts toward people. It’s getting less as I reconnect with people more,” Clayman says. “I’ve been in treatment since 2003. Basically, the treatment is learning to live with uncertainty.”
In describing his self-financed film’s purpose, Clayman says, “I wanted to create a dialogue in America about mental illness, something where people could see this film and say, `Hey, that’s me. It’s not so bad to talk about it. Maybe there’s help.’”
The film retraces Clayman’s steps of his life in Philadelphia and Hollywood and chronicles his treatment as well as events like speed-dating, which help him connect with others. He also interviews actor Maurice Benard (General Hospital) about bipolar disorder and news Anchor Jeff Bell about his OCD.
His film is already winning praise. The Latino Review stated: “It is a delightful human tale that opens our eyes into the world of OCD. For Clayman, it was a brave move to put his mental illness on to film.”
Bud Clayman is hardly alone in suffering from mental illness. Hopefully his film can help others realize that mental illness is relatively common and that treatment can have a profound impact.