Interview with Writer/Director Buddy Clayman about 'OC87: The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger's Movie'
The new documentary OC87: The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger's Movie is a great documentary about one mans struggle with mental illness. I had the chance to talk with the writer and the star of the movie, Buddy Clayman, and here’s what he had to say to Movie Room Reviews.
Nick- Hey Buddy, how are you doing?
Buddy- I’m great.
Nick- Where are you calling from?
Buddy- Los Angeles.
Nick- Nice, is it nice out there?
Buddy- Yeah very nice.
Nick- I’m in Ohio and it’s as nice as it’s been here in awhile.
Buddy- Oh jeez. Are you in Cleveland?
Nick- I’m in Toledo but I am going to Cleveland Tomorrow.
Nick- Are you originally from Philadelphia?
Buddy- Yes, Philadelphia.
Nick- Well it’s kind of the same weather as Philadelphia.
Buddy- Are you a Mud Hens fan?
Nick- Oh, I am a huge Mud Hens fan. I am a huge Tigers and Mud Hens fan. Are you a Mud Hens fan?
Buddy- No, I’m an Orioles fan.
Nick- Well don’t feel bad, my teams aren’t doing much better. Haha.
Buddy- I thought they would do well this year.
Nick- I think they’ll get a little better. Maybe after the All-Star Break.
Buddy- Yeah, Definitely.
Nick- So we’re here to talk about your new film OC87: The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger's Movie which opens up June 8th in LA. I can sum it up but I am sure you can sum it up better than I can so could you tell us about your new film and where you came up with the name OC87?
Buddy- Yeah, this movie is about my journey towards a better life after, or while, suffering with obsessive compulsive disorder. Having suffered from bipolar disorder. Having Asperger’s, and having major depression. I came up with the idea in a writers class. It was at the national alliance for the mentally ill, they had a writers group in Pennsylvania and somebody had asked me to put up a subject on the board of what I would like to write about. I said ‘Therapy.’ I wrote an essay called “Therapy” and how it empowered me and I read the essay in class and somebody next to me said “Therapy empowers me too.” So I went home and thought that would make a great idea for a documentary. The original title for the documentary was Therapy. I was going to interview different therapists who maybe had been to therapy and if it empowered them. That didn’t really work so well, so I contacted a guy named Scott Johnston. He had been a program director at a rehab facility that I was in for eight years and I told him about the idea and we meet. He got me on to the idea of recovery, like how an alcoholic recovers. So it became more of a personal film because of that. We collaborated on the script for about a year and then we hired a crew and went to work.
Nick- There’s so many different topics you cover in this film and all different diseases. The one that struck me most is what is called Harm OCD. Can you kind of explain that a little bit? When I first heard the term, like a lot of people, I had a stereotype of what OCD is and think of it as things like excessive hand washing. You get more in depth with OCD and talk about all the different kinds of OCD one could have. I was interested in what Harm OCD actually is.
Buddy- Harm OCD for me is basically having violent thoughts and having violent thoughts of hurting other people. Angry thoughts, hacking people to death in my head. Hitting people in my car if I’m driving on the street. But I have been in treatment for that and the ironic thing is that I’m not really a violent person at all, but I have these thoughts. I do have some anger issues in my background that developed and I think that caused it. The main goal of the treatment for the OCD person is really to just let the thoughts be there because as I’m learning that a lot of people have angry thoughts but they don’t really pay attention to them. They’ll just have the thought and they’ll go away but the OCD person pays attention to the thought and kind of really clamps down and worries and obsesses over it.
Nick- That struck me because I do think a lot of people have that same issue and like you said a lot of people just let it go.
Buddy- Exactly. All of OCD treatment is to learn to live with uncertainty. The uncertainty that everybody has to live with this. You may, or may not, hack somebody to death but you’re going to take precautions not to if it is a possibility.
Nick- If I ever have those thoughts I just think about jail time for the rest of my life and I’m like ‘no thanks.’
Buddy- There you go. You have a good self-regulator.
Nick- When you made the film were you trying to appeal to people without these disorders to help them understand more or were you trying to reach people who have these disorders to help them go through their problems with you?
Buddy- The main reason I made the film was because I really wanted to create a dialogue around the world, especially in America, about mental illness. I wanted to combat mental illness stigma. I’m especially interested in people who have family members that may have, or maybe exhibiting, signs or symptoms of depression, or they’re very lethargic. They’re not doing their normal activities and they are acting awkward, and these people don’t know where to turn or what to do. They’re afraid to talk about it and I thought maybe if I made a movie about this it would open up a dialogue and make it easier for them to relate to someone else who has these issues and they could seek out help.
Nick- When I watched the movie, that’s what I got from it. I don’t suffer from the diseases but it helped me understand. There are no physical symptoms, and I’ve known people like this, and unless you really know the person, it is really hard see the disorder.
Buddy- Yeah you can’t tell, and a lot of people hide it because they’re afraid of what their friends are going to say. They’re really afraid of being ostracized from society, to use the large term.
Nick- I give you a lot of credit because for a lot of people they can’t talk about it and don’t want people to know and here you go and make a film about it and your illness.
Buddy- Right, haha. It wasn’t difficult because I do have some background in film and I do like sharing and talking openly about myself on camera, so that part wasn’t hard. The hard part might be when my friends, or the people I know back in Philadelphia, when they see this movie and what they might think. Maybe it will explain some of my behavior to them and maybe it will be a good thing.
Nick- You haven’t made a film in 29 years?
Buddy- Yeah. I did a senior High School project which I thought was very good and I was proud of it. I made a couple other small films at Temple University but this is my first major professional project.
Nick- It looks like you had a lot of fun making it especially in those scenes where you were doing good Buddy vs. bad Buddy.
Buddy- I loved that! That was my favorite thing on the set and the email afterwards was totally true. I just talked with some people in New York City who saw good Buddy vs. bad Buddy and they are writers from General Hospital actually. They said you should contact General Hospital, so maybe I can do some acting. I really liked that scene because I always wanted to be on the Lost in Space set in real life. I always wanted to be part of that whole atmosphere.
Nick- I think it’s a great film and I think you did a really good job expressing yourself and I am sure you had to cut out a lot of things you didn’t want to.
Buddy- Yeah I did and I just want to mention I had a lot of help on it. Glenn Holsten was our lead director. Scott Johnston was our second in command and we had a great editor named Kathleen Soulliere. They all were just great to work with. We shot a lot of hours and we went through several rough cuts of the film. We had focus groups that sat in and the film was at one time two and a half hours and we knocked it down to two hours. We went through many versions of the film before we got to where we ended up at.
Nick- Well it shows that you put a lot of work into it.
Buddy- Yeah we did.
Nick- What can we expect from you in the future now?
Buddy- Right now I am working on an off-shoot website for OC87 called therecoverydiaries.com. Basically it’s a multi-media website for people who are in recovery for mental illness and they can contact us and we can help them. They can do articles, audio recordings, and photo essays. I’m directing two small films with two subjects that are in recovery just like I am.
Nick- Well Buddy, it sounds like you are doing a lot of great stuff and it’s for a good cause and I thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us here. I hope you have a great day and I hope the film is a big success which is out June 8th in LA. Is this something that people will be able to get on DVD or VOD?
B- Well thank you and yes after the theatrical release we are going to try to go to cable and DVD and VOD and all the digital download.
N- Well thank you very much Buddy.
B- Thank you Nick.