**Before you read this I urge you to keep an open mind. I have spent enough time talking to Matt Frame, the director of Camp Death III in 2D to make some initial observations:
- Matt genuinely LOVES movies. I know that is abut as cliche as cliches come in BUT, Matt genuinely LOVES movies. When you hear his enthusiasm for film you now that somehow, this love is reciprocated. How, exactly, does that make sense? Films have to love Matt Frame because once you hear him talk about film, you realize that they have saved him. They have been his anchor and I never knew just how whole and totally this statement resonated with him until I read this article.
- Matt is an unique kind of fearless. He isn’t oblivious to how he can potentially offend people. In fact, he has a certain kind of awareness that lets you know that when he apologizes he truly means it. He understands that we are living in a very weird era, bur refuses to let it dictate his art or his humor.
- Matt is, in the face of everything that has chosen to represent, regardless of its lack of political correctness, a helluva nice guy. When my daughter was sick, out of school for the better part of month, Mat would begin almost every conversation with “how is your daughter?” My local friends also did the same, but Matt barely knows me and quite frankly just wasn’t expected to say anything, yet did, with genuine concern.
So, I urge you to keep an open mind, because regardless of what Matt has been through, regardless of in the face of that night how offensive you might find his observations to be…he is a helluva guy. Thanks for reading.**
Yes, Mental Illness is Funny
‘Camp Death III in 2D!’ Director Matt Frame explains why.
A sociopathic prankster. A raging skinhead. A hyper-sexual Australian. A bug-eyed dork sporting a neck-brace. These are just a few of the absurd characters appearing in my film ‘Camp Death III in 2D!’
They are mentally ill and yes, they are hilarious.
Attempting to debate anybody (possibly you at this very moment) out of being offended is a futile endeavor. It’s emotion, not intellect, that drives outrage. However, preemptive context might calm the nerves of some. So, on the eve of it’s release, I thought it might be an opportune time to explain what inspired the depiction of the mentally ill in my film.
At the age of nineteen, I was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. Not gonna lie, it’s been damn frustrating.
The endless search for the right medication (or cocktail thereof) combined with all manner of therapies (cognitive behavioral, electro-convulsive etc) eventually wears out it’s welcome. This inevitably leads to hospitalization, of which I have made the journey a half dozen times. It is during those times that I encountered the individuals who acted as inspiration for the characters in my film.
For the uninitiated, a stay in a psychiatric assessment unit is a helluva wake-up call. Typically it takes about four hours (after the Diazepam wears off) to arrive at two very strong conclusions:
a) I need to get out of here ASAP
b) These other patients are FACINATING.
There are zero pretenses in the psych ward. All have hit rock bottom and their symptoms are at maximum potency. You are among the walking, talking stereotypes only seen in b-movies. A shuffling woman mournfully wails Japanese funeral hymns. A wild eyed savant scarfs down his 8th muffin from the snack basket. An airline pilot mutters incoherently having been pulled from a flight after a psychotic episode at the controls.
Real people. Real weird. Really funny.
You’ll never find a more honest (and hilarious) group of people. Their humor was dark and brutally self deprecating. It was contagious. I soon found humor in my own illness. It became apparent that it was a necessity. My life had become so comically screwed that only admitting as much could start the process of rebuilding. That honesty and self deprecation of our illnesses has resonated with me ever since.
So, the opportunity to poke fun at my own mental health journey (thru making ‘Camp Death III in 2D!’) felt like the perfect, full circle opportunity. Alchemy thru comedy. Turning shit into silver. The creative freedom of realizing I was permitted (thanks to my own membership card) to mock the mental was infectious. We didn’t just cross the line, we swept it aside. It set the absurdist tone for the entire film and it shows in the final product.
It wasn’t all cathartic enjoyment, however.
Illness had a stronger influence than expected. We became bogged down with delays after I again became ill and needed to be hospitalized. Our original six month completion date extended to almost fifty. Three and a half years later the film was finally finished.
It turned out exactly as I had hoped: hyperactive stupidity that would play like gangbusters in any mental ward across the land. If you were to fill a theater with these folks (to watch my film) the only one who won’t be howling with laughter will be the projectionist.
So yes, mental illness is funny. For people like myself it’s an absolute necessity to find it so. And for everyone else? They’re welcome either way.