Lisa Klein is co-director, writer, and producer of OF TWO MINDS, a film about the person behind mental illness. Klein was inspired to create this film is based on the experience of her own sister, who struggled with bipolar disorder. A writer and filmmaker, Klein has co-directed the festival documentary short WHAT A BALL and the Fox Movie Channel documentary CULT CULTURE: THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE. Check out her Q&A below:
Can you sum up your film in two sentences?
What it is really, you take something like Bi-Polar disorder and people have this vision of somebody running around a room in slippers and yielding a baseball bat. We are trying to put a human face on a topic that has typically given shame. Showing the humanity of the illness; that it’s one of many dimensions a person has. We just want to show “them” rather than focusing on their illness.
What inspired you to be involved in this project?
It’s really personal. This comes from my family; my sister was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She was 11 years older than me. It wasn’t until we got older, late 20s-30s, till it became more of a roller coaster. She was my role model and one of the funniest, smartest people ever. She died when she was 42. What I saw and read about… it became clear to me that these people where so much more than just their illness.
My sister, she was a teacher, she had her masters in social work, she was a mother, an amazing friend; she was the person people would call when they were going through things because she was the least judgmental person and she would listen. It drove me to want to expose the other side of the illness, the human side.
What has been one of the biggest challenges in making this film?
At first it was, how am I going to find people who would be compelling and willing to share their stories? I realized I had to tell people my story in order to gain their trust to bear their souls for the film. That made it easier for them to open up. Also, when you do a movie about bipolar disorder, how do you get people to come see it? We had to get the trailer to show it’s really about the individual person and what their going through, not just their illness.
What has been your happiest/most rewarding moment in this journey?
The people I’ve met. The people in this film are now my friends for life. Going into a film like this, I wondered if I was going to learn something about my sister that I didn’t know. Getting to know these people and learning their triumphs and struggles, showed me that we all have stuff to figure out and cope with. It showed me a window into some of the things that I’m guessing my sister had to face. It was eye-opening, meeting these people that are such a rich part of my life now.
What sort of change do you hope your film instigates?
I want people to walk away realizing that we all have to deal with something; finding a job, money, physical illness (which is what this is). Whether someone has Bi Polar Disorder, cancer, or can’t find a job, there’s empathy to be found. It doesn’t take away from who they are. It comes down to treating people not as us-vs-them…and not as if we are better than they are.
Where do you take it from here? What’s next?