Only the wounded physician heals. - Carl Jung
Though the New Age Movement has infused contemporary culture with an overall positive energy, in their effort to appeal to the masses, New Age writers and thinkers have mistakenly painted healing, "self-help," and spirituality as a culture of glitz, glamour, and Oprah. But to meet Michael Reed, the subject of the Wounded Healer Documentary, is to understand that the path to true healing is fraught with difficulty. Healing requires the strength to not only look the darkest parts of the self in the face, but to learn to integrate and live with them as well.
The Wounded Healer Documentary is first and foremost a narrative that will follow Michael Reed as he attempts to use his newly found method of expression, the images he calls Twistblurs, to find those darkest and most wounded of shadows and bring them out into the light; to reverse his depression through his method of expression.
Michael says he finds the Twistblurs he takes of himself to be frightening, and beautiful, at the same time. His pictures of lower Manhattan, looming always in the windows of his apartment, seem to embody that same quality.
The Wounded Healer will be a three-part verité documentary woven together into one seamless narrative film. The 3 parts will be:
- A retrospective coming-of-age story about Michael Reed - How the events from Michael's past have lead to his current state of being
- Michael's current unfolding conflict - Michael's lifestyle, healing work, and his current struggle to show his images to the world despite his agoraphobic and depressive state of being
- A meditation and exploration of healing - Interviews with Michael's friends, healing practitioners, and art therapists weigh in on the meaning of healing, boiling it down to a process of making the unconscious, conscious
1) Retrospective - Michael's History
Interviews with Michael, along with his closet-full of images from his past (including, drawings, photos, and footage he shot with an old camcorder some years ago) will illustrate not just Michael's external journey of individuation from the conservative bubble of repression, to an apartment that's a laboratory of expression, but also the internal arc, the corresponding emotional journey of his psyche that has paralleled the outer events of his life.
Michael has lived multiple lives. He escaped a torturous childhood by enlisting in the army, moved on to professional circuit race-car driving, built a house from scratch in order to live with his first wife in the country, and graduated to globe-trotting commercial photography.
But that was back in the 80's. Since then, he lost his life-partner, found a second one, but lost her too, both ladies dying of cancer. The world dealt him one too many blows, so he quit venturing out into it. He stopped taking pictures, and started shutting himself into his apartment. At least for a while....
2) The Unfolding Journey
For Michael, something shifted recently. The self-diagnosed agoraphobic, began picking up a camera again, but he was not taking the precision-focused film photographs that had once been the hallmark of his commercial photography career. Instead, he was now improvising, playing with a little digital camera, the same way he enjoyed playing with his instruments. He was still glued to his apartment, but rather than languishing, he was delving: cleaning out his closets both literally and figuratively, sorting through the thousands of once-hidden images from his past, and finally dealing with the childhood he has tried to forget. But even more impressive was that Michael was beginning to dust himself off in order to resurface, trying to use these photos, the twistblurs, that have both plagued and mused him, to help him make another go of this world and live yet another life.
Since Michael began his emergence from a solitary existence, I have been there to document him, every step of the way, and with my little but powerful DSLR camera in tow. I shoot hands-off, fly-on-the wall and direct-cinema style footage, but I also acknowledge my role as the filmmaker and have no qualms about asking my subjects to pose for sit-down interviews. The overall aesthetic is both down-to-earth and up-close-and-personal. Some examples of scenes already recorded and in the can: A musical-infused shamanic healing session Michael performs in his apartment; A nervous Michael venturing out to a Soho tattoo parlor to have a memorial to his brother engraved in his skin; an inquiry visit to a gallery as a potential host for Michael's first ever gallery showing; and an in-house appointment with his therapist, Mariá Cipriani.
3) A Meditation and Exploration of Healing
The Wounded Healer is an archetype, a word Carl Jung evoked to describe a repeating pattern of human psychology that transcends cultures, geographies, and generations. The archetype of The Wounded Healer is meant to describe a wounded individual whose ability to alleviate the pain in others is derived from his or her own personal experience of suffering. Interviews with some of Michael's friends, many of whom are healers or artists, studied in the realm of the psyche, will share philosophies and experiences that illuminate Michael's struggle and help frame his experience in a wider context.
Michael's suffering has not been in vain. In ancient cultures if you got sick you didn't go to a doctor, you went to see the shaman, a person who communed with the spirits to intercede on behalf of those who needed healing. And to meet Michael is to understand that shamans are still around today, and that they often go by a different name: Artist. Michael is both, and I think most artists are.
Artists are our cultural healers. Sculptures, painters, flower-arrangers, actors writers, musicians, filmmakers, their work saves us from the humdrum that modern life can sometimes be. They can restore meaning to a life that sometimes feels empty. Just as shamans commune with spirits, artists also commune with spirits. Making art is a journey, requiring the artist to first venture into the dark creative realm of the unconscious, discover something, and then endure whatever it takes to bring what was found to the surface for all to see, hear, taste, touch, and experience.
And though we value our artists, romantic projections aside, we understand that it is not necessarily a role we envy. Shamans, too, rarely chose their role. The role found them, and the road to initiation was and is, like Michael's, fraught with difficulty and real suffering. But as much as we need our healers and our artists, they need us too.
Without patients, the shaman has no one to heal and thus no role in the community, and without an audience, the artist may never bring their vision to fruition. When artists stop creating, mute their expressions, we've seen what happens, they languish in the dream world, and we lose them to depression, anonymity, or worse, overdose or suicide. What art therapists, doctors, and psychologists are beginning to understand is that there is something in the act of expression that seems to have the power to heal, and that the antidote to depression may be its opposite, expression. Perhaps then, Michael's expression, his attempt at emergence through his twistblurs, will help him find the healing he so often provides for others.
Risks and challenges
Between Michael's depression and my fatigue, momentum is something we need, but that we've already proven we can overcome. When Michael's not dragging me out of bed to film a gallery scout, I am dragging him, pushing open his apartment door, shoving a camera in his face, to ask him if he's shot anything new. These initial funds, will help us to be able to continue this momentum we've established together.
Money is always a challenge for artists. Thankfully, I have just enough of it to survive in this post-modern America, but I am not so flush that I can fund a venture like this movie. If our Kickstarter project proves successful I will be using the funds to purchase better production equipment: a better camera, better microphones, lighting, and large hard drives to store the hundred plus hours I will no-doubt rack up as I continue to follow Michael's story. Plus, I will need to pay myself a stipend salary, and use whatever leftover money to hire as many good people as possible to help me with the editing, shooting, and post-production.
A successful Kickstarter campaign will provide the money we need to get The Wounded Healer documentary up and running. This is the first of our big hurdles. The second will be to use the new material we shoot to attract a producing partner, get us into a post-production lab, or to procure a completion grant, which will help us not only produce the feature film we want to, but to make sure it gets seen.
- (35 days)