The documentary focuses on Bud Clayman's mental illnesses, including what he calls "harm OCD," and his recovery process.
"This is not a film about handwashing," cautions the subject and co-director of OC87, an eye-opener about what it's like to live with a variety of mental illnesses, including obsessive-compulsive disorder -- and, however tenuously, to recover from them. Word-of-mouth should be good for a niche theatrical release, and the mental-health community should ensure legs on video.
Bud Clayman, who as a teen wanted to be a filmmaker, suffered a major breakdown in college and has been sick for most of the last 30 years. Among other things (Asperger's, for instance), he suffers from "harm OCD," an obsession with unwanted violent thoughts and the paralyzing fear that he might act on them.
Having emerged from years of therapy feeling ready to reenter the world, Clayman enlisted two partners to co-direct a film (underwritten by his father) that would explain his condition to others. And in a very individualized way, he achieves that -- exploring his junk-clogged apartment, reminiscing about his healthy youth, and talking with others (including actor Maurice Benard and newscaster Jeff Bell) who have prospered despite enduring similar problems.
Most effectively, Clayman lets us into his head: Footage of everyday life -- walking down the sidewalk, sitting at a diner -- is accompanied by a voiceover in which he narrates his internal monologue. These thoughts consist mostly of deliberate monitoring of involuntary impulses: he talks himself out of staring at strangers, keeps a lid on social interaction in unfamiliar settings, and strives not to obsess over faux pas once they've occurred.
Clayman comes across as a sad but sympathetic man who, impressively, may have mastered enough coping strategies to have something like a normal life. The interactions we witness with his fellow filmmakers -- in which decision-making can be paralyzing and small slights can acquire too much weight -- may not inspire hope for his future career in film. But this movie, at least, does exactly what it sets out to do.
Opens: Friday, June 8 in Los Angeles (Fisher Klingenstein Films)
Production Company: OC87
Directors: Glenn Holsten, Scott Johnston, Bud Clayman
Screenwriters: Scott Johnston, Bud Clayman
Producer: Missy Moyer
Director of photography: Daniel Traub
Music: Michael Aharon
Editor: Kathleen Soulliere
No rating, 91 minutes.