Title: OC87: The Obsessive Compulsive Major Depression Bipolar Asperger’s Movie
Directors: Bud Clayman, Glenn Holsten and Scott Johnston
Featuring: Bud Clayman
Mental health issues are but one of many elephants in the room when it comes to any serious national political discussion of social services. Severe mental illness is often the ultimate disease of “the other” (schizophrenics who don’t take their medications and the like), additionally marginalized because those with the resources to care for afflicted family members are more likely to be wrapped up in shame and silence than advocacy.
But what of dozens of other crippling mental illnesses, and the treatments that exist and could help so many people but for the proper resources and opportunity? Funny and poignant and suffused with all the complication of life, “OC87” is a nonfiction film that leaves one pondering that question. As its full title suggests, it’s a movie about depression and mental illness. But it’s also unique and affecting in that it’s a very subjective document, co-directed by Bud Clayman, a diagnosed major depressive with the good fortune of support and assets not within the reach of so many.
A therapeutic undertaking with co-directors Glenn Holsten and Scott Johnston, “OC87” takes as its subject Clayman, the only child of loving, upper-middle class parents. Its title derives from a dark period in 1987, when Clayman tripped headlong into a major depression, shut out everyone and everything around him, and tried to exert a meticulous control over every element of his life. Diagnosed with all of the disorders present in the title, the present-day Clayman — who matriculated at Temple University and rolled the dice on a movie career in Hollywood before eventually finding some much-needed structure working at his father’s business — is an affable enough guy who physically resembles a sort of sad-sack cross between Bob Saget and Jeffrey Ross.
He’s gripped by wildly intrusive thoughts, though. A hoarder who carries around a massive collection of keys that he doesn’t need in his pocket, Clayman lives in a seemingly perpetual state of crippling anxiety. The movie conveys this in a variety of ways — including a stirring breakthrough moment in an appointment with his therapist, who has Clayman poise a pocket knife over his wrist as a means to illustrate living with nervousness. Most effectively, though, it has Clayman provide a voiceover narration of his everyday thoughts as he goes about riding the bus and walking down the street.
At once intensely personal and universally moving, Clayman’s film is of a piece with Doug Block’s 2010 nonfiction portrait of his family, “The Kids Grow Up,” which documented the filmmaker’s own struggles in letting go of his teenage daughter. “OC87” is Clayman’s story, but it connects his struggles to the outside world in savvy fashion, having him also visit and talk to his doctors and other folks (including “General Hospital” actor Maurice Benard, who plays a character also beset with bipolarity) coping with mental illness.
On a certain level, “OC87” is a work of advocacy, no doubt. But it transcends those parameters, and the condescension such a description connotes. Perhaps even more remarkable, the film locates a stirring, amusing and improbable climax rooted in Clayman’s love of “Lost in Space.” “Ever tried, ever failed — no matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better,” Samuel Beckett once wrote. This unusual and genuinely involving film is a testament to that dictum.
NOTE: For more information on the movie, visit www.OC87.com.
Written by: Brent Simon