We are honored to have a guest post today, as part of #OCDweek, from John Spottsword Moore. Moore was recently the recipient of the Barbara Jordan Media from Texas Governor Rick Perry for the moving portrayal of mental health issues in Once Again.
He has made the film available for free on his website for a limited time in honor of OCD Awareness Week. It’s a lovely film, so please take advantage of the opportunity to see it.
For today’s blog, Moore tells us a bit about the process of making the film, and how it has been received.
“Once Again”, my short documentary is my fifth short film. I have made two fictional shorts, one animated short, and one other documentary. In every case, the routine is the same. You raise enough money, kill yourself producing and editing the thing, play in a few festivals (if you’re lucky), and then put it on the shelf. From the very start I knew this project would be different.
Though it took three years to produce, this film was literally 20 years in the making. I spent the bulk of my life trying to put away the memories of terrible food and endless medication from my time in pediatric psychiatric ward. I always moved away from thoughts of how inexperienced doctors searched for the “cause” of my OCD, as if it was some sort of PTSD. Most of all, when my OCD would relapse into my teens and twenties, I always looked for some other cause of my problems. OCD was just something I dealt with a long time ago. However, in the back of my head, I always knew that this story would have to be told some day.
The decision to tell this story came after my first year of graduate school for filmmaking. With all of the equipment and support at my disposal, I set out with two primary goals. First, I would make the film that I never had as a child. I still remember the horrific stress my mother went through in finding even a little bit of information in Pre-internet 1994 and how many of the results were uninformed impractical. The second goal was to not simply show “Talking heads”, but actually put the viewer into the subjective mind of OCD. I knew I would have to use animation for this. However, I didn’t want to have to filter my memories through another artist. This would be challenging, because I could not draw a straight line. Thus, two of these three years were spent taking basic classes in life drawing and animation at a local community college while simultaneously fulfilling my graduate requirements. To anybody who does not have OCD, that might sound out of the ordinary.
Though I have a lifetime of stories, the film focuses on on year of my life. I chose this period, when I was ten, because even today I consider it to be the turning point. It was not some quick fix, but that year marked the moment in my life when I realized who I was and really made the choice to turn it around. It was also a period OCD began to truly come into the public eye, and the International OCD Foundation would begin their national conferences.
It took me three years to make a 20 minute film. I either shot, edited, or hand drew every single frame of this video. It was more than just a grade, or a project. It was a piece of me that had to be perfect. When I finally finished, I was out of shape, isolated from friends, and in debt. The question of whether all that hard work and stress was worth it was up in the air for a long time. It has really only been this week that I got my answer. The last four days, I have received countless messages from teachers, parents, doctors, and OCD sufferers. All of them thanked me for bringing them a little bit closer to understanding. A special Education Teacher is showing it to a student’s parents in North Carolina. A distant relative in Alabama is using it to convince her son that he is not broken. Journals, blogs, and Facebook pages, are are asking e for more stories. For the first time in my life, I feel as though that little boy in the film, the one who lived for so many years only in painful memories and nightmares, is finally at peace.
-John Spottswood Moore
Moore will also be screening clips from Once Again at the OCD Texas Conference tomorrow in San Antonio, Texas. Learn more here.