(Lend me your ears, for a long time)

An animated documentary


Project description:
My inspiration for this documentary comes from several conversations with Mikael Franck (67), who has been in and out of a mental hospital from his early twenties until his fifties. He has been struggling through life with a mental disorder, also as a drug addict.
Mikael is an enthusiast who fights for better rights for people living with a mental disorder. 
He manages the website www.fugleskræ, where he wants to draw attention to the many impairments and cuts in psychiatry - back is only medication and patient storage 24 hours a day, he writes on his website. 

I have had great benefit from being able to draw on Mikael's experience and input through the first part of the process.
Mikael's story has inspired my idea-concept of how the documentary will illuminate loneliness amplified by being mentally ill, and the lack of attention and understanding from the surrounding community.

Mikael met his wife at a mental hospital, she was the cleaning-lady. She helped Mikael to find himself a better place in life today.

But... I have to see both side of the story before judging - to see how psychiatry has developed through the years by doing more research and interviews with both other patients and nurses.

I have been in dialogue with a nurse, who works at a mental hospital. She actually came up with the title, and I couldn't get it out of my head, so I kept it. 
What Mikael has been talking about, and what the nurse mentioned too was, that it is SO important, that you have someone who LISTENS, someone to talk to. Not only medication but ears - for a long time. 

FIRST - I have different thoughts about this projects. My first idea was to follow one person/ story (Kurt), with inspiration from Mikael's life. But now I thought of maybe seeing different episodes/ stories from different peoples lives, all living with a mental disorder. 
Mikael would have liked the documentary to be very dark and sad, but I wanted a little bit of hope too. He then mentioned, that we could follow two stories - what would happen if someone got lost in the system with no friends nor family behind? And what would happen if you met someone at the right time, a nurse, a person, a friend, husbond/ wife or had a strong family behind, that would carry you forward? 
This could be interesting to work with, more than one story.

If only following one person's struggle through life:

The documentary is centered around a main-character called Kurt. He wears an old yellow raincoat. Kurt is a very sensitive guy who have lived with a mental disorder for a long time. Throughout the story we get indications that show us, he has been living a hard life. He feels like a scarecrow, he feels that other people are scared away by his appearance and mood. He is thereby very lonely,  sad and on the edge of saying goodbye to this life.

Kurt - development 

Universe, design and material:
Kurt's thoughts, actions and imagination are dictating the visual language, and what we see, we see through the eyes of Kurt. Kurt gives us a unique insight into his fragile mind. How he feels is how we see the world around him. 
An example below is the "human-flock" (the other human beings) made with narrow eyes and no ears - a symbol that they neither see nor hear Kurt - they always rush forward and are busy getting from A to B. Their movements are stiff and fast as they move through the picture. 

The "human-flock"

The characters should be drawn and animated in 2D with few details. They are made from simple shapes in a skewed style, which will help amplify the story through stylistic movements and sensitive expressions. 

I would like to play with the shape of Kurt as well - when he feels really lonely he can be small as a mouse, and when he is filled with anger and frustration he can be as big as his apartment - at the point of breaking out of the ceiling.
See sketch below.

The documentary should have humor in it, which creates a contrast to the heavy mood - it shouldn't be too dark, but have a little bit of hope. Maybe the humor is in the style and movements of the characters.
The characters are, at the moment, white with a black outline and a color or a bit of grey on the clothes. 

The Doctor

The Doctor above is made of sharper shapes and the doctor coat is his body. The folded edges at the end of his sleeves are used as hands instead of a real pair of hands, they shape after his movements.
The Doctor's face is based on Rorschach's Inkblot Test - a test designed to reveal the deepest secrets of the test person, that the person badly knew she or he had.
Mikael has been a test person many times. 

Backgrounds: I have had little thoughts about the backgrounds, but I like to play with mixed medias. It could be photos with textures on top, so they play nicely together with the characters.

Atmosphere and depth: 
I want to develop and create a simple and imaginative universe that supports Kurt's thoughts, actions and movements. I would like to play with the world around Kurt depending on his mood. 
When he is down, the world around him seems gray, cold and on the verge to fall apart. When he is happy the world is filled with colors and happy shapes.

Something with water - Kurt often feels like drowning because of emotions and thoughts and the system, people. It could be interesting to play with water, that you see him standing in water or swimming, when he is really down. Maybe it's real water, that kills him in the end.

The music should follow Kurt's actions and moods too. 
I haven't thought much about dialogue yet - maybe use selections of Mikael's life-story as a voice-over through the build-up of the story. When Mikael is talking, Kurt's thoughts and actions should somehow match what Mikael is saying. The selections of Mikael's story should play nicely together with the rest of the script and the music off course. 

The documentary puts a focus on a major subject today for many adults as well as young people - loneliness, amplified by being mentally ill.
I hope that the film can create debate and raise awareness around mental illness and the lacking support, presence and warmth from the society around. There is a need of people who listen and give time - "Lend me your ears, for a long time"

A new idea is to follow several stories from different peoples lives - all living with a mental disorder. We will see small glimpse from a life and then cut to another, and maybe go back again. I will try to connect the people and their stories somehow, so it won't get to confusing.

Ideas, stories, glimpse of lives, my life, other peoples lives:
- Little girl (5) looks for her dad in the garden, there is a rake on the ground, and leaves are flying around in the wind.
- We meet the same girl again at a bar, a little older, maybe 7. Her dad sits next to her with a beer in his hand - he is drunk and tired. The girl asks her dad, when to go home. He orders another beer. A person walks by, looks at the girl and walks away.
- The girl is screaming and thrown into a little dark room by her dad. He locks the door. We see her white eyes blink in the dark.
- A young girl gets married, she is pregnant.
- A boy (5) and his dad lay in bed in the evening in the bedroom, they are watching telly. The young girl from earlier, who got older, comes into the room. She has been crying, seems upset and shouts into the room - "SEE!!! You don't need me anymore, I will go to the sea and drown myself. She walks away, the dad and the child continue to watch telly.
- The boy from before seeks something in a drawer in the bedroom. He finds something else - a bunch of papers, where the same line is written over and over again - "I will not commit suicide, I will not commit suicide.....". He puts it back into the drawer and leaves the room.

- A woman is laying in bed, crying...... A child is standing in front of her. The dad in the background tells the child to say sorry, and then everything is great again.
A young woman (Esther) sits on a bed and rocks back and forward. She is listening to Christian music. She is dressed in white (she has three personalities and dresses in the colors her personality had on the day). The white one rarely did anything wrong.
We meet Esther again, she is wearing a blue shirt and blue jeans. She is almost herself, when she is blue. She has ups and downs like everyone else. She meets up with a social-worker, that said to her, that it was very important that Esther never got kids because of her mental condition.
Esther comes down the stairs in the morning, she is wearing red (when red, she could be like the devil and very evil). Someone is cooking for her, a woman taking care of Esther. Esther grabs a knife and screams, that the woman should cut her legs of, because of what the social worker said the other day. Without legs, the men wouldn't find her attractive and she will never have kids.
An old man sitting in his kitchen. In front of him he put the table with two cups and the coffee is ready. Behind him is a lot of pictures of his kids and grandchildren. The doorbell rings and a healthcare worker comes in and says hi. She starts doing the dishes, talks a little bit about the weather. He indicates that there is a cup of coffee for her, but she is very busy and is gone again after 15 min.
An old lady is sitting on a bench, she is crying. A person is sitting next to her. The old lady says, that she has three kids, but they never visit.
An old guy in a worn yellow raincoat comes out of a bakery. He turns around, says load - "Uh I have to remember my bike", because he almost forgets his purple ladies-bike. A couple talks back - "Yes, it's a beautiful bike, don't forget that one". The old guy smiles and begins to talk. The young couple stay and listen to his story about his day, life, family, down thoughts, about how he got his purple bike. They listen for about 30 minutes and then the old guy has to leave, he has to go to the bank. When walking, he turns around and smiles and says - "Thank you, thank you very much". It made his day, and the young couple was only 30 minutes to late for their job, and so what, they made his day. They listened.

Below you see examples of people with signs. Sometimes they feel like they are seen as a diagnosis and not a person.