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Institute of Inner Vision / 4 August 2014

Screenshot of Outside

Screenshot of Outside by Dolly Sen

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This week my film ‘Outside’ was shown at the 'Shuffle Your Mind' event at Shuffle Festival.

‘Outside’ was premiered at the launch of The Institute of Inner Vision at the Barbican Centre in London in March 2013 as part  Wellcome Trust's 'Wonder in Film' season The Institute of Inner Vision was set up at the London College of Communication by Sal Anderson to create and support a community of filmmakers and photographers with experience of psychosis. The Institute commissions short films and is raising monies to run programmes and workshops in film and photography to offer training for people with experience of mental health conditions and/or experiences of inner vision that we can learn from and share.

There are many films professing to show the experience of psychosis. Although there are a few exceptions, mostly it has been done very badly, made by people who have never experienced it and are informed by previous inaccurate cinematic portrayals of psychosis. Think about it this way: you may know the language, the food, the culture and the history of, say, France, but unless you live there, how can write about what it is to be French? There aren’t nearly enough films made on psychosis by people who know it first hand.

So I love the idea of this project, because we need to provide an opportunity where both the filmmaker and viewer can deeply and emotionally share the experience of psychosis, and not be separated by it.

But it is no easy thing being a ‘mad’ film maker. I am writer who uses both pen and computer, and a visual artist who uses both brush and computer. With those I am not disconnected from my art, or the tools of my art. The control is placed firmly in my hands, physically grounding me.  Film is more tricky than that. Film differs in that it is not a solitary vocation, it needs a proliferation of people and equipment in order for the art to be realised. If reality can be divergent in the eyes of psychosis, so the equipment and people stir its mechanisms riotously too. You definitely need people who are gentle and patient around you, to fight any monsters with you. And I was lucky enough to have good people around me when I made the film ‘Outside’. The film itself was just a depiction of a simple shopping trip if you look upon it from the outside, but through the protagonist eyes, you see how difficult it is to differentiate what you see and feel with what the rest of the world does; you know how devastatingly lonely it is, yet how brave the protagonist is to still want to reach out to the world.  When I made the film, the experience of being outside I had endured a thousand times alone, so alone, was no longer lonely.