About this project
From the entire CRAZYWISE team, thank you to every person who helped us get the word out about the film, wrote to us to share their personal story or made a pledge during our campaign. It is because of you that CRAZYWISE will be completed!
About the Film:
CRAZYWISE centers around Adam, 29, a former wakeboard champion who struggles with his sanity following a psychotic break. Desperate and feeling shame from being labeled with a potential lifelong disease, Adam embraces meditation. Later, after revealing his mental diagnosis, Adam is turned away from future meditation retreats. He becomes homeless, alienated from his family and is living alone out of a friend’s car.
A 20-year fascination with shamanism leads photographer and filmmaker Phil Borges to question how Western culture defines and treats severe mental disorders. While documenting Adam’s story, Phil becomes increasingly aware of the severity of the mental health crisis in America. He discovers an emerging, survivor-led movement supported by a passionate group of renowned mental health professionals, activists and scholars who are advocating for alternatives to the biomedical based standards by which most mental illness is currently defined and treated.
Why Crazywise? Why Now?
Most of us know someone affected by mental illness, whether through a family member, friend or our own personal experience. According to The National Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 5 Americans will suffer from a mental health crisis in their lifetime. Most will occur before the age of 24.
It’s no secret that the vast majority of these friends, neighbors and relatives will never find effective, lasting treatment. It’s a sobering fact that more than half of U.S. prisoners and a quarter of America’s homeless suffer from mental health issues.
To counter this trend, survivor-led activists and advocates are emerging to challenge the current system. These movements include successful treatment approaches like Open Dialogue in Northern Finland. In addition to Open Dialogue, the film explores new organizations and programs including: Peer-to Peer counseling, the National Empowerment Center, Stand Up for Mental Health, the Hearing Voices Network, Patients Like Me and Mad Pride. These programs emphasize hope for recovery, acceptance, mentorship and relationships.
It struck Phil that this was the same model of mentor-based relationships he’d witnessed and photographed in Africa, Asia and South America among indigenous cultures. He found some of these insights buried deep in the timeless shamanic traditions of remote indigenous cultures around the world.
Few people are aware that alternative treatments exist due to a lack of mainstream media coverage. This film will present successful options that show how the mentally ill can recover without lifelong medication and stigmatization.
Creative Approach and Style:
CRAZYWISE depicts the stigmatized and often frightening world of mainstream mental health treatment and the ongoing search for recovery. The goal of the film is to inspire greater understanding about the severity of our current mental health crisis, spark conversation about solutions and re-examine how Western society defines and treats severe mental distress.
As the film progresses, tension grows between Adam and director Phil Borges, who is torn between his desire to help stop Adam’s suffering and his responsibility to maintain his professional role as observer and storyteller.
CRAZYWISE is a PBS style, social issue documentary that combines emotional and personal narratives with community-based treatment alternatives for mental health.
Where Are We Now?
CRAZYWISE is 80% shot, including more than 35 interviews with respected psychiatrists, psychologists, physicians, neurologists, journalists and anthropologists plus 50 hours of Adam's story.
This summer, with your generous support, we’ll be able to finish production by documenting the survivor-run programs in the U.S., Europe and New Zealand that are using successful, innovative, community-based treatment approaches.
Your contribution will also allow us to begin editing by October 2014 with the premiere of CRAZYWISE planned for spring of 2015.
Help support the creation of this important story! A story about a filmmaker looking for answers for a young man’s painful journey that brings a global perspective to our understanding of mental health.
Where Does the Money Go?
Thank you for helping us tell this important story! We could not produce this film without your generous support, and we greatly appreciate each and every one of our Kickstarter Backers.
Director: Phil Borges, Social Documentary Photographer and Filmmaker
For more than 25 years, Phil has been documenting indigenous and tribal cultures, striving to create an understanding of the challenges they face. His work is exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide, and his award winning books have been published in four languages.
Phil has hosted television documentaries on indigenous cultures for Discovery and National Geographic. As an experienced lecturer, he has spoken at multiple TED talks, including TED in 2007, TEDxRainier in 2012 and TEDxUMKC in 2013. Phil directed 13 short documentaries between 2004-2012 focusing on gender issues around the world for UN Women, CARE, ReSurge, joinFITE, Foundation for Women and One Heart.
Director: Kevin Tomlinson, Producer, Director and Cinematographer
Kevin has earned numerous Emmys and Telly Awards for his network news camerawork with NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS and Discovery. He has worked with clients ranging from Microsoft, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ford, Cineplex Odeon to Nickelodeon and the Nationally broadcast PBS series, "Travels in Europe" with Rick Steves. Kevin directed and co-produced the award-winning feature documentary “Back to the Garden,” which premiered at SIFF (2009) and played at more 30 international film festivals, airing both locally and nationally on PBS.
How Does Kickstarter Work?
Kickstarter is all or nothing. You are only charged when we reach our goal. If we don’t reach our goal you will not be charged and we won’t receive any of the funds pledged.
Risks and challenges
Getting to know Adam, we've seen how challenging it is for him to find the professional help he needs. Adam’s struggle reveals a current system both unprepared and unsuitable.
As we’ve gotten to know Adam, his health has become our constant concern. We often feel compelled to intervene and find him some kind of effective help. But we know this could change his story completely and unpredictably, and it may be seen as overstepping our role as objective filmmakers. Most importantly, we struggle with how to protect him from being hurt in the process of making his extremely personal story a public one.
As social documentary filmmakers, we attempt to remain objective. But we continually feel the responsibility of telling Adam’s story. We are moved by his courage, compassion and his trust in our intentions.
Our hope in making this film is that Adam and others like him will find strength and inspiration to change their lives through this story and the alternatives we present.
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