Turn Down the Flame

Our New Project


To those of you familiar with our work, we thank you for your continued interest. Kindly share this information with others (individuals, listservs, and social media).

John Turturro continues to serve as our spokesperson and we thank him for his support.

DANIEL, DEBRA, LESLIE and MAYBE DREW is headed into post-production. A 90-minute HD character-driven documentary, the film features several people diagnosed with severe psychiatric disorders but who are now "in recovery," living in society with varying degrees of success. An additional individual who appears to be losing the battle and another who has chosen to live outside the norm are featured as well. By chronicling their stories — in part through compelling conversations they have with each other — the documentary shows both the internal and external obstacles that people with mental health issues face. It also reveals the similarities and differences in their experience of treatment for mental disorders.

It is repeatedly said that the mental health system in the United States is broken. As “asylums” evolved into “institutions” and then to “psychiatric in-patient units” in hospitals, treatment increasingly became the domain of “acute care facilities” meant to assist individuals in crisis. Yet, there is little agreement as to what “recovery” really means and how best to achieve it. Some believe that for there to be recovery the medical model must apply and that people can more or less live full lives but only while taking antipsychotic, mood stabilizing, antidepressant, or other medication. Others believe recovery should be understood within the context of the life of an individual who views him or herself as differently-abled rather than chronically ill. Still others believe that an individual with severe cognitive, emotional, and/or relational difficulties is not in a position to play a significant role in decisions regarding treatment. This character-driven documentary seeks to break through the walls of psychiatric diagnosis and labeling, to break through the external definitions of recovery, to allow the viewer to enter the world and mind of the individuals captured on screen and appreciate just how unique is each person’s trajectory toward mental health.

We recently received a grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities to complete the film! The NJCH felt the film deserved the grant because it "asks compelling questions, considering the multiple interpretations of the term 'recovery' and places this analysis within a social, cultural context rooting the project in the humanities." Your financial contribution to the post-production phase of the film would also be greatly appreciated if you see the merit as the NJCH does!