Saint Elizabeths Hospital is Washington, DC's public psychiatric facility. It provides intensive, inpatient care for individuals with serious and persistent mental illness who need the security and structure to assist in their recovery. Saint Elizabeths also provides mental health evaluations and care to those committed by the courts.
Men and women with mental illness are an often misrepresented and even forgotten community, and those who are institutionalized even more so. Many of us know or have known someone who suffers from a mental illness or have even experienced it ourselves. It can be a lonely place. My project is designed to create a platform for the individuals in care at Saint Elizabeths to speak to us directly about their lives -- to share their stories with the larger community. The term used by Saint Elizabeths for the individuals it cares for is "consumer."
I am assisting the consumers at Saint Elizabeths in creating a video diary documentary. The goal of my project is to inspire confidence through art and introspection, and to teach the participants new and different skills that they can continue to develop after this project is completed. Therefore they will be responsible for shooting all the footage including b-roll, video diaries and the interviews themselves. We will assist them in editing their respective video diaries, however, we will also create a longer length documentary that will be a compilation of everyone's story. We will have a public screening in September 2010 at the new facilities on the campus of Saint Elizabeths. With assistance, the participants will also be responsible for organizing this event.
Five consumers will be selected for the video diaries, as only those who are competent to consent can appear on camera. The participants who cannot appear on camera will assist with completing the task list of required b-roll footage of the campus. They will also interview each other and certain staff members. Post-production will include editing, score and sound design, script and narration, also completed as much as possible by the consumers.
At the end of the project, we will donate the cameras to the Hospital's existing arts program, Lens and Pens, so that they can incorporate a video program. I know they would like to continue their video efforts after this documentary by producing a 30 second commercial every month about different areas of the campus, like the cafeteria, or the sports facility, etc. Who knows? Maybe they will continue with the video diaries, but maybe they will make their own television station? With confidence and a new skill set, anything is possible!
Let me tell you again the goal of my project: To inspire confidence through art and introspection.
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- (45 days)