Interviewing homeless/mentally ill

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    • #43940

      Hi all,

      I’m seriously considering shooting a doc about mental illness. How do you get a person who may not even have i.d. or be of completely sound mind to sign over their likenesses? Video tape them reading the release?



    • #184137

      would they have a caretaker? their signature may be enough.

    • #184138

      When I have interviewed “street people” in the past (never really developed into the documentary I wanted it to be) I usually only asked them to give me a verbal acceptance on tape (with or without their names – sometimes it was really challenging to get them to share their names/ages. Also most of them either mumble, speak very low, while the others yell, gesture and speak extremely loud and somewhat disconnected/incoherent, not always making much sense)

      Out of a few dozen “interviews” (the term used somewhat lightly), only one was willing to write/sign anything for me.

      Good luck with your efforts, it can be challenging but can also result in something very powerful. I hope you get from it what you are looking for. Keep us posted, if you will.

    • #184139

      You can do the “Repeat After Me” routine, get on film.

      one little caveat to keep in mind….

      Mental health issues could also mean not competant to give legal consent.

      If you make money with your project, your subjects, or more likely some relative of your subjects may show up with a lawyer wanting to get paid…

    • #184140
      Grinner Hester

      Skip the release. It’ll only put em on edge and I think you can assume they have no lawyer on retainer. lol
      I went on a road trip with the infamous Beatle Bob. I knew he was homeless and assumed he was autistic. I wound up with a 90 minute feature and nobody in it, including the music legends sprinkled throughout cared about release forms. I hate em. I shoot reality. You can’t get that after having folks sign a legal document. It’s much easier for me to submit it to them for their approval first and nine times out of ten, that leads to gigs for them directly.
      you can watch it here, if you like:

    • #184141

      My son is autistic and my husband and I are his legal guardians. This is meant to protect him. Keep in mind, even if he gave his consent for you to film him, his consent is null and void without the consent of his guardians. The problem is, our son doesn’t even understand that he can’t make the decision.

      Most mentally ill people have guardians. Talk to his caretakers and they should be able to point you in the correct direction.

    • #184142

      I have two autistic spectrum affected grandsons and, at the behest of their mother, am doing a doc regarding them. A number of officials in the local education departments are extremely interested in the outcome!

    • #184143

      Hi, I’m Fabrizio from Italy,
      I’m planning to realize a video project about menthal health,
      interviewing people in 2 countries (ex. Italy and another one)
      and collect A lot of short clips (1 minute each);
      later on I would to compose those videos using the Korsakow system
      obtaining a non linear video
      here the user can jump form a clip to another one
      thanks to meta tags:
      is anybody interested on this project?

    • #184144

      Hi There:

      I just found this website and joined this forum. Am fairly new to video but learning fast and loving it. I went to Grinner Hester’s site and watched the Beatle Bob doc and I have to tell you, it’s awesome!! It really is! Grinner, I love your stuff!

      I have been helping serve some ofthe homeless and street folks in Ottawa, Canada, for a number of years and I too have a desire to do some kind of documentary that would beof benefit to them and others. I’ll be following this thread.


      Rudy in Ottawa

    • #184145

      I think you’d serve these people better by hiring them as consultants for scriptwriting, method actors to build authenticity into your project. Pay them for thier input, then re-create with actors.

      I’ve mentioned before that I was a homeless person, as a teen.

      I assure you, While both my family, and Child and Family Services had no issues with abusing me or throwing me out on the street like I was garbage…..

      If you had filmed my story then, with me being under eighteen, CFS would’ve been suing you or charging you for something to cover up thier horrendous treatment of me, and the same family that tossed me out with the trash would have shown up with hands out or lawers looking for a paycheck.

      Then there is the mentally ill not fit to make descisions that come back later looking for something.

      You want to do a news reportage of a situation, you report it, you’re covered legally… for the most part.

      You want to do a documentary, hire a lawyer to close up the loopholes first or you could wind up losing alot of money.

    • #184146
      Grinner Hester

      much appriciated, Rudy.

      Be careful out there. You are rolling the dice when travelling or engaging with the homeless/mentally ill. I consider myself fortunate to have such a vast background in hanging with mentally-challenged people. When I was a kid, my Mom drove all the special ed kids to school and that meant my riding with em. This, by default, made me their protectyor on the playground as school yard kids can be veeeery abusive to special needs children. I also had a little brother that had severe brain dammage and passed away when I was very young. As a result of these experiences, you’ll never see me laugh at retardation but, brother, you’ll never see me insult someone with a retardation by pittying them either. IN a nutshell, this is why Beatle Bob and I bonded so well. Some hate him. Some laugh at him. I envy him. We should all be so lucky.

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