ADHERENCE is the largest and most personal film I have tackled to date. While I’ve spent the past four years at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts making various films, I have always strayed away from producing material dealing with this sensitive subject matter—simply because I didn’t want to get it wrong.
I wasn’t willing to direct a film that would do a disservice to my own experiences and those of people I know, many of whom are still struggling, and have not been able to manage their illness. Too often films about mental illness or psychiatric wards are completely unrealistic, vaguely condescending comedies, or take an inherent side about whether one has the capability to get better or not (and they get preachy). Those films are not true mental illness stories, and I wasn’t willing to settle for anything less than a true mental illness story. Emotional truth had to come before all else.
I spent years writing scripts dealing with life inside an inpatient psychiatric ward and with mental illness, never satisfied that the result would convey the emotional truth. I wanted an audience to understand what it meant to be inside an inpatient psychiatric unit, to feel what it means to live with mental illness. Then, last November, I finished the first draft of ADHERENCE. And I knew I was on to something. Almost five years earlier—to the day—I wrote my first script about mental illness and it looked like every shelved attempt I had made to explore this subject matter that has defined so much of my life would finally pay off.
Continuous development, redrafting, over half a year of pre-production, a month of auditions, and over 30 cumulative hours of rehearsal brought this film to life. We shot on location for five days in a closed psychiatric ward in Newark, NJ, and wrapped on June 2nd, 2015. While principal photography is over, we now need money to finish the film—to afford the professional color grade and sound mix that will complete my vision and allow it to be seen by audiences all over.
Beyond its personal importance to me, I believe that ADHERENCE has the potential to be an important short film—because it goes where films dealing with similar subjects refuse to go—and that makes it all the more necessary to make it as good as it can be, and get it seen by as many people as possible.
–Mav Block (Writer/Director)