Over the course of a day in an inpatient psychiatric ward, we witness the intertwined struggles of three young adults: a bipolar man on the verge of discharge; an Orthodox Jewish woman whose postpartum depression has upended her life; and a depressed man whose treatment at the hands of the mental health system has devastating consequences.
Overview & Director's Note
ADHERENCE is the largest and most personal film I have tackled to date. While I’ve spent the past four years at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts making various films, I have always strayed away from producing material dealing with this sensitive subject matter—simply because I didn’t want to get it wrong.
I wasn’t willing to direct a film that would do a disservice to my own experiences and those of people I know, many of whom are still struggling, and have not been able to manage their illness. Too often films about mental illness or psychiatric wards are completely unrealistic, vaguely condescending comedies, or take an inherent side about whether one has the capability to get better or not (and they get preachy). Those films are not true mental illness stories, and I wasn’t willing to settle for anything less than a true mental illness story. Emotional truth had to come before all else.
I spent years writing scripts dealing with life inside an inpatient psychiatric ward and with mental illness, never satisfied that the result would convey the emotional truth. I wanted an audience to understand what it meant to be inside an inpatient psychiatric unit, to feel what it means to live with mental illness. Then, last November, I finished the first draft of ADHERENCE. And I knew I was on to something. Almost five years earlier—to the day—I wrote my first script about mental illness and it looked like every shelved attempt I had made to explore this subject matter that has defined so much of my life would finally pay off.
Continuous development, redrafting, over half a year of pre-production, a month of auditions, and over 30 cumulative hours of rehearsal brought this film to life. We shot on location for five days in a closed psychiatric ward in Newark, NJ, and wrapped on June 2nd, 2015. While principal photography is over, we now need money to finish the film—to afford the professional color grade and sound mix that will complete my vision and allow it to be seen by audiences all over.
Beyond its personal importance to me, I believe that ADHERENCE has the potential to be an important short film—because it goes where films dealing with similar subjects refuse to go—and that makes it all the more necessary to make it as good as it can be, and get it seen by as many people as possible.
--Mav Block (Writer/Director)
Take a look at some of the stills from the film. These stills have not been color graded yet, they are still what are known as “Log C” images—meaning that they will appear flat and desaturated. While this may seem counterintuitive, shooting like this allows us the most flexibility in post, preserving the greatest range between highlights and shadows.
Where is the money going?
As I mentioned, principal photography is finished, and we are now in post-production. The funds we aim to raise here would be used exclusively to finish the film. Financing the film’s production required a lot of favors, a lot of vendor discounts, a lot of begging, a lot of my own money, and even selling off things on eBay. Now, in the midst of editing, I am turning to Kickstarter and a larger community to ask for help in finishing the film.
We are asking for $5000 because we want this film to look and sound as good as possible. We would use $1750 of that amount of for color grading, $2000 for sound design, $500 for music, and $500 for festival submission fees. $250 would be taken off the top by Kickstarter as their 5% fee.
Sound design will receive the largest cut of our (hopeful!) post-production budget because a film like ADHERENCE requires a lot of sound work. Creating the aural environment of a psychiatric unit is no easy task, especially when you consider all the other patients, nurses, and doctors that populate it. Additionally, I have a deep appreciation for the art of sound in film, and there is a great deal I want to do in the sound design to help create the world the characters inhabit.
If we raise more than $5000, we would simply put more money into color, sound, and music.
All donations are important, and I truly appreciate any contribution—no matter how small. Every dollar is a huge help. If you’re unable to donate, please consider even sharing this Kickstarter page. The more eyeballs on it the better!
Meet the Cast
David Riley (Daniel): Off-Broadway credits at 59E59 Theaters, The Duke on 42nd st, The New Ohio Theater and Abrons Arts Center. Resident teacher at Roanoke College. Director and performer at NYFringe 2014. International work at Amsterdam's OVER HET IJ Festival and DE PARADE. On camera credits with MTV, Disney and multiple regional and national commercials. MFA from New School for Drama. http://davidtriley.com.com and http://milkwoodtheater.com
Alexandra Gellner (Maddy) is a graduate of The New School for Drama where she received her MFA in Acting. Hailing from Northern California and now based in Brooklyn, she is also a teaching artist and co-founder of New Dance Theatre, a movement-based theatre collective. ADHERENCE marks her second collaboration with Mav Block.
Max Woertendyke (Charlie): Born and bred in Brooklyn, Max is a graduate of McGill University (where he studied History and English Lit.) and is a graduate of The Juilliard School of Drama. Aside form being an actor, Max was the recipient of The Jonathan Madrigano Entrepreneurship grant, as well as an award from the Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation for his three-tier film project 18 ACTORS, and is the founder of G44 Productions (the production company behind 18 ACTORS), which is dedicated to developing, producing and promoting original and creative content from the next generation of American film and recording artists.
Lizzy Plimpton (Dr. Sera) is an actress and screenwriter. She is a graduate of Atlantic Theater Company’s Conservatory Program and studied at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. She has appeared in a number of films including 8:46 (Winner Best Ensemble Cast – Downbeach Film Festival, Winner Best Narrative Short– GI Film Festival), K.I.S.S., DATING GAMES and ONE LAST QUESTION. She currently resides in Brooklyn, NY.
Jesse Means (Nurse Nate) began his professional career in the Broadway production of SHOW BOAT. Other theatre credits include Enoch Snow in the Broadway National Tour of CAROUSEL, NoMax in FIVE GUYS NAMES MOE, and most recently as the transgender storyteller, Pearl, in NAKED ARCADE. His film and television credits include both comedies and dramas with supporting and featured roles in the DreamWorks 2008 film GHOST TOWN, the Juan José Jusid directed film, ARGENTINO EN NEW YORK, as well as ABC’s late night show, JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE, and daytime drama, ONE LIFE TO LIVE.
Meet the Filmmakers
Mav Block (Writer/Director) is a senior Film & Television major at NYU concentrating in writing and directing. Along with writing and directing a multitude of projects while at NYU, Mav has also produced multiple short films and written multiple feature screenplays. He has trained at The Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theatre, and previously worked at Lost Highway Films for directors Sasha Levinson and Todd Bellanca.
Cale Nichols (Director of Photography) is a Los Angeles-based freelance cinematographer, who until recently was based in New York. He has spent the last several years studying his craft at New York University's prestigious Tisch School of the Arts. Cale has directed photography and assisted on a variety of award-winning feature length and short films, documentaries, commercials and music videos.
Terra McNerthney (Production Designer) grew up surrounded by performance. A graduate of NYU-Tisch’s Film and Television program, she currently works as a freelance production designer and assistant director. Her design credits range from sexual horror to teen comedy to decaying alternate universe, tied together by a love of realism and an exacting eye for detail.
Devin Tusa (Producer) is a Film & Television major at NYU specializing in producing. He has so far produced fifteen different projects during his time at NYU, varying from independent films to senior productions. He has worked as an International and Domestic Marketing Assistant at Magnolia Pictures, and is a Board Member of the Stern-Tisch Entertainment Business Association.
Cat Hobbs (Producer) currently works in literary development at a major film studio based in New York, where she has worked in various capacities for over three years. She is a graduate of the film program at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She previously worked as the producer on Mav Block's last short film, TURNCOAT.
Peter Zachwieja (Co-Editor) is currently in his second year at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, earning a degree in Film and Television Production. A director, assistant director, and editor, he can always be found working on his own films, those of others, or on freelance, commercial jobs.
Risks and challenges
There are always a host of risks and challenges that come with making any film. However, we are in the unique position of having completed principal photography. The film has already been shot—we’ve even started cutting it—now all we have to do is finish it.
We are aiming to complete the film in mid-September in order to submit to this year’s round of festivals. The biggest challenge that faces us is simply finishing on-time, and the only risk we run is finishing late and simply having to wait longer to submit to festivals at an ideal time.
Everyone at work on this project has experience turning around projects on tight schedules without sacrificing quality. Moreover, we shot the film to edit, with a very clear vision of what the final product would look like. This enables us to move at a fast pace in post-production, as we know exactly what we want, rather than having to figure out what the film should look or feel like in the edit room.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)