Honestly it was a breeze! I tried to anticipate any unknown issues in performance during the casting process. I know I wanted Phil Burgers and Pat Healy in this. I’m a fan of both of them. Phil I knew, but Pat I was introduced to through a mutual friend. I had long conversations with both of them and worked it all out in terms of process and intentions. The rest of the cast was made up of actors I had worked with before and a troupe of clowns that performed together alongside Phil for years. So I knew there would be a built in comfort and trust among them. They are all fearless performers and nothing I instructed them to do was ever a problem. Plus, everyone had copies of the storyboards and a “demo video” that I made long before we shot. So they knew exactly what was going to be asked of them, down to the exact frame and timing of the shot.
How did the animation aspect of the film get woven in?
I made a demo video (basically an “animatic”) for the entire short out of illustrated storyboards. I went through the video and picked out shots that would be entirely reenactment, shots that would be entirely animated, and shots that would have elements of both. Dusty and Taylor from Mortis Studio came on board months before the reenactment shoot, so I was able to base the look of the animated characters on the people I casted, along with the location, props, etc. I was also able to provide them with background plates that we grabbed during the reenactment shoot. Taylor, Dusty and I were very interested in an interwoven and layered look for the animation, akin to Ralph Bakshi, so it was really important for us to feed off of each other throughout the production.
Have you ever talked with anyone who had been through a seminar like this (maybe not as torturous, but just intense)?
Oh yes, I’ve talked to many people that have taken various seminars around this time and even a few that took Leadership Dynamics training. There is no ambiguity regarding the L.D.I. training, every graduate I’ve spoken with corroborates Gene’s account of the events, even past trainers. I’ve also found court testimony from the founder of L.D.I. William Penn Patrick in which he downright brags about it. It’s important to recognize L.D.I. as a forerunner for subsequent groups, but that’s not to say that all seminar experiences are like this (though some are! even today). I hope that such an obvious example of abuse can shine a light on the shaky foundations of a lot of seminars that purport to help people, while concealing hidden dangers.
What’s next for you?
I’m developing a TV series on the untold history of the self-help industry. At the end of the short, I tried to at least hint at the developing industry to come, but now I have the opportunity to tell the whole story. You can think of the short as a type of dark shadowy origin for a multi-billion dollar industry that affects us all.