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Story notes

Project notes

In preparatory stages

Been doing research on equipment, including interviews with practitioners about their preferred tools.

I continue viewings of films with themes of mental illness. I also continue reading concerning narrative structure.

Have also been continuing to work on the adaptation agreement with the writer. Have consulted with an independent film lawyer who suggested that our current draft agreement had some potential problems (mainly around clarification of ongoing rights to the work) that would be important to clarify before going forward with an agreement. I hope to have this sorted out soon.

Story Outline: ‘The World’, an adaptation

General project description: This project is a filmed adaptation of Robin Wildt Hansen’s ‘The World.’

The 80-minute narrative film is the story of the treatment of a young man diagnosed with Schizotypal disorder and his eventual return to ‘wholeness’. Much of the main character’s journey is framed around an obsession with Tarot Cards, which includes an extended fantasy in which he travels through the world of a series of specific cards. To capture his magical thinking, the narrative will be told with a mix of live action and experimental/mixed-media animation sequences and soundscapes that will invite the viewer to experience the world through the young man’s experience.

Terms Schizotypal disorder – people diagnosed as such frequently have difficulty forming close relationships and often have odd belief systems and magical thinking.

Narrative / story elements The basic narrative concerns Tyne Arkin, a high school aged young man who has been diagnosed with schizotypal disorder. He generally keeps to himself but recently develops a friendship with a sympathetic young woman Cassandra who takes interest in him at school. Certain odd tendencies that he has coped with is entire life, including certain obsessive compulsive behaviors (e.g., knocking on doors a certain number of times before entering, etc.) and a belief system about the pervasive personality of numbers and the living presence of mathematical concepts permeating the world around him begin intensify. Eventually they build to frequent, uncontrollable visions that often terrify him. These culminate in a very public, full-blown breakdown when Cassandra invites him to a high school party. His family takes him to a treatment center to get care. At the treatment center, the Arkin family is given a choice: there are two competing schools of thoughts about how he should be treated. Dr. Andrews, on one hand, wishes to give a traditional treatment with heavy use of medication. On the other hand, Dr. Kostas (modeled on the doctor/visionary Patch Adams) wishes to take a more ‘progressive’ approach. In what Kostas considers a more holistic approach, no medicine is used and instead he wishes to treat the young man with some experimental care in which, instead of using medication, he is instead encouraged to explore his visions fully in an ‘experience room.’ The family opts for Kostas’ ‘progressive’ approach and the young man is placed under his care.

In this experimental treatment, Tyne will be cared for both at the center and will still continue to spend some time at home, and still attend some limited school. Dr. Kostas is considered very eccentric to many. He considers the young man’s condition less as an illness but instead as a possible mark of exceptionalness. Kostas frequently points out to his colleagues that, in another cultural setting, the young man with his intense visions, would be considered a shaman or a holy man with urgent visions valuable to his community, not mentally ill. No one would try to cure him. (Some at the care center, particularly the more traditional Dr. Andrews, see Kostas as dangerous; we learn that some years ago another young patient under Dr. Kostas’ care committed suicide while under going similar ‘treatment.’)

Throughout the narrative, a central question is whether the doctor’s unorthodox care for the young man is helping or is dangerously reckless and making him worse, perhaps irrecoverably so.

I will elaborate later on his journey through the visions and the experience of his care.

In the novel, the young man’s father is presented as very weak-willed, spineless and his mother somewhat overbearing. I am thinking instead of framing the story around fragmented childhood memories in which we learn the father (instead of being a weak presence in his life) actually took his own life when Tyne was young. This will be a central memory that he will have to ‘integrate’ in order to return to wholeness. {(Thanks O’Neill for the question of what I mean by ‘wholeness’) By return to ‘wholeness’, I mean here that he is able to embrace and integrate all the parts of his life. For him, in particular, this is the world of his magical thinking and visions, with the consenual world and his very real and practical difficulties with it in. (Towards the end of the film 8 1 /2 , the lead character, who through out the film has been haunted by different memories of his life, and a patchwork of relationships and experiences, finally integrates them all into one cohesive whole, expressed by the final scene in the film in which he embraces hands with all of these disparate characters and dances.)

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