A podcast sharing stories of lived experience with mental illness
Interview with award winning filmmaker Genevieve Bailey about her film Happy Sad Man

November 28, 2022

Interview with award winning filmmaker Genevieve Bailey about her film Happy Sad Man
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Genevieve Bailey’s films have screened in 50 countries, winning over 30 awards to date. With a background in short drama, comedy, and music videos, I AM ELEVEN (2011), her ambitious first feature documentary, was shot in 15 countries and 12 languages. It received critical acclaim and a theatrical release in Australia spanning over eight months, including a record 26 weeks at Cinema Nova in Melbourne. I AM ELEVEN was named New York Times Critic's Pick when it opened cinemas.

Genevieve's latest film is Happy Sad man, which is about opening up and gaining insight into how we can better be there for ourselves, our mates, and our loved ones. Produced by Proud Mother Pictures. 7 years in the making, shot across Australia in Victoria, NSW, Northern Territory, Queensland, and Tasmania. Features 5 male key participants aged in their 30s-70s, and additional participants, both male and female, aged into their 90s.

It shows BiPolar openly and realistically, which is not shown often on the big screen.

For me, it's the most enjoyable and best film I have seen about mental illness and mental health, I highly recommend it to anyone to go and see, plus you're supporting an Australian filmmaker.

Huge thanks to Genevieve for her time and insights.

Watch the trailer here - https://vimeo.com/294254156

Find a local screening here - https://happysadman.org/screenings/

Website - https://happysadman.org/

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Transcript

genevieve bailey:

Oh. So I'm very lucky before going on a podcast,

Joel Kleber:

so that was that should have shouldn't have been a bad. No, no, that's fine. So are you okay with this being recorded as a video as well? Yeah, that's fine. That's fine. Yep. Cool. So I'm really lucky to be joined today by Genevieve Bailey, who is the director, award winning award winning filmmaker with her films and has won over what 30 awards, I think being screened over 50 countries. And the film we're going to talk today about is happy, sad man, which is really relevant to his podcast, which is about sharing stories of mental illness, and your film does a fantastic job of that. I don't know why I didn't hear that before. And I found out about it through my connection with the satellite Foundation, and I went to the screening at Carleton. And it was, I think I said to you on our pre meeting for this, that I didn't think I would enjoy it. But I really, really did. And, and the reason why I say that is because I think with the special a lot of kids in the satellite Foundation have parents with a serious mental illness you, you live with it every day. And the last thing you probably want to do is to go watch a movie or a series about it. But I was completely. But I was really enthralled by that by the movies very emotional at times. And it's a really, really good watch. And I think it does a fantastic job of creating those conversations. And it's a really good avenue to reach people, I think, who might not have talked about, let's say their issues with mental health before. And that's a really good prompt. I think if they see that they would take action to go and do something about it. So congratulations on doing that. It's a really fantastic film.

genevieve bailey:

Oh, thank you, Joel, thank you so much for sharing that I am a filmmaker who really loves knowing what audiences think of the work that I make. And so thanks for your honesty and sharing that you didn't think you were going to enjoy it. Because that's a really good point, like, for a lot of people who are working in a certain area of life are living it, they might not want to go and watch that in cinema. But it was really great to hear that actually did resonate with you. And yeah, I'm really glad to glad to hear that feedback. So thank you.

Joel Kleber:

Welcome. How about but doesn't really feel like a film about email is about mental illness in a way it does. To me when I was watching, it didn't really even feel like they're just more about stories learning about these five, five men, and that was sort of something that was was there. But it wasn't the totally, from my perspective, it wasn't like that's what we're going to focus on that said it was more about the individual stories and journeys and, and that was just, that was a part of it. But it wasn't, you know, that was not something that's put in your face the whole time.

genevieve bailey:

Yeah, actually, when I was making the film before it was finished, my brother said to me, don't call it a film about mental health. It's not a film about mental health, like my friends aren't going to want to go to the cinema on a Friday night watch a film about mental health. He said it's a film about friendship, and it's about compassion. And it's about men and manhood and, and different ideas around what it means to be man today. And he said, it's you know, it's much more than just a film about mental health. And I think that's right, it's actually very human story of five different people who are sharing their experiences and have trusted me. And it's actually I one of my biggest highlights as a filmmaker is hearing people laugh in the cinema. And there's a lot of humor in happy sad, man, as the name suggests, there's also sad, sad moments. But yeah, I think it's really uplifting hearing people laugh and release that energy. Because, I mean, in lots of ways, John, who was the inspiration for the film talks about how you know, mental health issues can actually be really funny sometimes situations he finds himself in and, and just to know that, yeah, we're all human. And we don't have to talk about it in a clinical way all the time.

Joel Kleber:

Now, how did you first love getting to be a filmmaker? Because everyone I think sees are how do you be a director? How do you be a filmmaker? Well, how did you how did you come to be a filmmaker? Obviously, you have happy sad, man, which is a really a world award winning film, but you had one before it as well, which is a was 11 which is one a lot of awards as well and, and that sort of put your name on the map, I guess from from reading about online. So how did you get into the whole thing?

genevieve bailey:

Yeah, I made a film called I'm 11, which was my first feature length documentary before happy sad man. And it's about the world today through the eyes of a living your kids. So I traveled I've never been outside of Australia. But to make I am 11 I traveled to 15 countries around the world over a number of years. It was an amazing experience the film's in 12 languages and yeah, the funnest thing I've ever done, but prior to that, I made a lot of short films and music videos. But going back to my childhood when I was about eight i Back in my day, we didn't have video cameras or iPhones, you know, at home. So I would borrow a camera from the primary school hours app just for the weekend and make the most of it. I'd have, you know, many many hours filming my dog or setting up little special effects music videos with my brother and sister or interviewing pot plants. So whatever I was doing, I was really making the most of this opportunity to capture things on camera. So my love of storytelling was was something that was very evident in my childhood and then just continue didn't add up, pull it in. I feel Yeah, I love my job so much. And I'm very privileged to be able to be a conduit for other people's stories.

Joel Kleber:

How did you? How are we able to make a career out of because a lot of people do go to film school and my job actually employ a lot of kids who do their RMIT filmmaking and media and stuff like that. And they work for me in the video team. But how do you how do you go about making a career out of it?

genevieve bailey:

Yeah, I mean, it's a it's a question. It's, it's not always easy. And it's not the sort of sort of industry where there's a shortage of workers. So there's not a high demand. And that way that you can just, you know, apply for a job and as director directing films, so you just have to, in my experience, have a huge amount of self belief. Like, there's so many hurdles that you have to jump over. And for me, I just always dreamed that these ideas I have, it's worth doing as possible, and I can make it happen, even if it's not always fun, financially viable. Like, it's definitely not a career I got into, to get rich, maybe there's this idea sometimes that in the film, industry or TV, and there's certain areas of film and TV that, you know, there is a lot more money, but doing independent documentaries is really for the love of storytelling, and creating impact. And for me, it's encouraging and inspiring more compassion, and people or kind of curiosity as well. And yeah, I guess it's something that I just kind of continued to hone my skills from short films into making feature length work over a number of years, and I love it very much.

Joel Kleber:

What advice would you have for someone who wants to be a filmmaker? Is it more just pursue it as a, let's say, as a passion first, and maybe just go out there and try? And is it something where you had to go out to get funding for your first film? Or was it something where you had this idea and you go approach people? How does that work?

genevieve bailey:

Yeah, well, with my short films, I created most of them on just a shoestring budget, and I would get whatever gear I could get access to. So rather than waiting till I had a lot of money or funding or equipment, I just wanted to practice the skills of storytelling, which, you know, nowadays you can do with an iPhone. So I would say for people who are feeling like I don't have the money to make something big, start small, and create something, you know, this weekend on a phone, because actually your skills in terms of producing and directing or shooting or editing, they can all be developed without needing a huge amount of equipment. And I'd also say that a lot of people maybe think that being a filmmaker is all about directing. But as you would know, there's lots of different skills, and not everyone wants to actually direct some of them might want to write or they might want to edit, they might love the idea of bringing a story together in edit suite, or they might want to produce or the record the sound or, you know, do the music. So I think just kind of broadening what it is to be a filmmaker and realizing there's so many different roles that you might be able to have a passion for beyond just the kind of role of the director,

Joel Kleber:

and what makes a good story to you, or what's sort of like a framework for someone if they want to Alright, cool want to get on the weekend, or I want to do something about my mental health journey in terms of film or document or wherever what's a good sort of framework they can work with?

genevieve bailey:

Yeah, that's a good question. I think Joel, for me, being really authentic is important. So there's this idea that people should make films about things they know. So if you don't have an experience, well, then you can't make it. I don't necessarily agree with that. I think that there's an opportunity to learn about things and capture them, even if you don't have an experience with it. But I think it'd be authentic and also just realizing that you can actually do a lot in a really short period of time. So even though my films, my feature length films take a long time to make, I used to make a lot of short films just in a weekend and focus on one very specific story I want to tell rather than trying to do too much. But I think ultimately, like thinking of stories that you're going to be proud of sharing with other people. So thinking about what what's something important to me, what's, what's a story I want to share? And how can I bring my voice to this project in a unique way that maybe is a little bit different to how someone else would make it.

Joel Kleber:

Shawn has some great advice. So now I want to talk about the film. So yeah, how did you arrive at the subject? As you said, John, was, was John the main impetus behind the project or? Yeah, so

genevieve bailey:

John, I've got a photo of him here. This is John. And I say in the film, he's at once the happiest and saddest man I've ever known in my life. And he was the initial inspiration for the project and for the title. But as I was making the film, I realized because John's a good friend of mine, that for a man of his vintage in Australia, we don't often see people like him talking about his emotional life, his mental health, mental illness, in a way that's so direct. You know, like so honest, so upfront, so direct and for me, I didn't grow up with anyone like John in my family. I didn't know anyone like John. So when I met him, I was like, wow, this is this is unique. I want to I want to get to NOTICE person and capture his story and share it with the world. But then in the process of making happy, sad, man, I had two other guys. This is Jake. And this is David. And they were good friends of mine, I thought to myself, I feel like they have really interesting stories that they could share in terms of their happiness and sadness and their lives. And then I met grant and Ivan says, grant with the surfboard, and I've been here, and you've seen the film. So you know that these guys are all really different. But what they have in common is that they're great communicators, they're very honest. And they really want to make a difference in terms of reducing stigma, and opening up people's minds around talking about mental illness. So yeah, the film kind of came together over a number of years, and just kind of kept on building and growing. And my production company is called proud mother pictures. And it's because my films are like my babies, and I kind of there's a long gestation period longer than mine, neither months. And then you know, I send them off into the world, and I hope they have a good life, but they also have their own kind of pulse. And they go out into the world. And, you know, happy sad man has been out for a little while now. And people are still discovering it. And I'm so glad that you were able to see it, Joel, and we're continuing to screen it around Australia, so that more people can can meet, meet the guys on the screen, and also have conversations do q&a sessions with us and and talk about how they feel about the film.

Joel Kleber:

I think it's great, because if four years ago, it was to 2018 You released then you've still got regular screenings all the time with people going and I think that can just keep going for a very long time, especially with the Mental Health Awareness movement. Now it's becoming a lot more prevalent. I see this is such a good other avenue to get people engaged and involved rather than than generic stuff that's going around today.

genevieve bailey:

Yeah, I'm really, I'm really proud of that. I'm really proud of that. My last film, I'm 11. And this one, they have long lines, you know, and I want to make films about things that are relevant to a broad audience, not just to a really narrow audience. And, you know, to your point earlier about how you weren't sure, if you're going to like the film, we've actually had a number of guys who have come to screenings and said, I don't even know what I'm turning up to someone gave me a ticket, or my partner has told me to tout for my sister's here. I don't really know what it is. But I saw the title, happy, sad, mad, and I thought, That's me. So just identifying with that name was enough for some people to come along. But yeah, I think it's important because you know, sometimes having conversations like this can feel awkward or uncomfortable for people when they don't really know how to do it. And that's kind of why I made the film because we don't always get taught how to have these sort of difficult conversations. But when you watch a movie, you can kind of see it role model by other people. And it makes it a little bit easier to start that chat with your mates or with a loved one. So

Joel Kleber:

yeah, I think I think things that are said, you can instantly relate. So my mom had bipolar sort of one. And there's a lot of similarities between her and, and some of the things grandson John described. So you instantly relate to that. And you think back to those memories and stuff. And that's where you get a bit emotional. But I want to talk a bit more about John. And there's a couple of scenes which resonated with me, which is the one where John was very, very depressed. And you I think you took them to the Emergency, emergency ward. I've done that many times for Mike with my mom, because there's not much of a other solution when they're when they're manic, or in psychosis or whatever, you've got to go to the emergency department get them assessed. And then if they get it, there's a bit in the psych ward or whatever, they'll then take them across. If not, they'll come back, whatever it is. So talk about that, from your perspective in regards to how that whole scene in that event played out for you.

genevieve bailey:

Yeah, sure. So to paint a picture back to that time, the editing process of cutting episode man was very long. And so when we pretty much finished the film locked with it, locked it away, locked off the cut, I got a phone call from Johnny, and I could tell from the tone of his voice that he was very, very unwell. And I've seen John, you know, experience very high highs and very low lows, but this felt like a whole point of the kettle of fish. And I went and picked John up from out ninja long, and I could just see and hear in his voice that he was really unwell. And so even though I'd seen him very unwell before, I'd never really had a time where I felt like we needed to go to a hospital. But he stayed with me for a couple of days and my dogs were actually really concerned about him. So I've got two dogs and mooch. She's never particularly like John, I guess his energy is a little bit. He's vibrations that are really intense for her and she's older and she's quite timid. And she's always been a bit like, she'll go upstairs when John's around. But actually when John was with me at that time, and very unwell she kind of killed herself up around his neck and stayed with him and watched him and slept with him and I could tell that John Yeah was in a different state. So I spoke to him and said that I think maybe it'd be good idea if we go to the hospital and he he nodded and said, Look, I'm handing over to you now I like is saying that he's putting his life in my hands and he trusted me. But for me, y'all it was the first time going through this I thought what do I do? Where should I take him which is the best hospital and I was so conscious of the fact that I'm a filmmaker making it film like this, and the university is going, hey, here we go, you finish the film. But wait, there's more. And just saying John like that, put down the camera, and I focused on caring for him and doing what I could to get him to the best support that I could. And so we went to the St. Vincent's Hospital. And as you see in the film, he was assessed, he spoke to nurses and doctors there, and they wanted to give John a bed, but they didn't have any beds. And even that, in itself is something that I'm sure you yourself know, can happen. And yeah, I think for me, we did do some filming at that time, because John said, This is real life, people need to see this. And so with his consent, we did some filming at the hospital. And we documented that process. And then, months later, I showed John the footage and I said, Look, if you don't want this footage in the film, I'll cut it out. But he said, No, he gave his consent, because it is a part of the process that sounds you might think, you know, if you've broken a leg, or if you had a heart attack, you can go to the hospital, and there'll be a bit but you know, it's not always the case. And so, for me, yeah, that was a big learning curve to realize that even though they knew he needed the care, there wasn't the space. But to their credit, they they really clearly asked me was I comfortable taking John home for the night, if I wasn't, they would have a comment team in the emergency department, you know, on a stretcher, but I felt comfortable bringing him home. But you know, a lot of people wouldn't have had someone who could take them home or even take them in there in the first place. So I want to acknowledge that a lot of people are battling a lot of circumstances without having that support. But they promised me that they would find them a bed the next day, and I took him back, and they were able to find them a bed. And yeah, I visited him every day once he was in there. And that as well was a learning experience to me. But yeah, it was a pretty difficult time. And I'm really happy to share that John is doing really well, at the moment. He's living out in a regional area, growing vegetables and heaps of fruit and loving that daily work. And that daily practice and looking after his huge garden, it's more than a garden. It's like a little farm.

Joel Kleber:

I think it's fantastic. You know, I think my mom's got bipolar had bipolar disorder, she's deceased. But bipolar one. And obviously, if that condition, you're probably more manic, and then you you know, you're less flat, but you're more mannequin, but they're very, it's a very full on, you know, if you live with someone like that all the time, you know, it can be very just just full on. And I think John was a good representation of everything that comes with bipolar disorder. And it's very important to put that scene in there, I felt because that's just the reality of the realities of it, you know, people just think you can, alright, someone's getting manic, you can call someone to come help, it doesn't happen, you've got to get a ambulance or police will come depending on what happens, then they go in there give a psych assessment for eight hours or 10 hours, whatever it is, if there is no bed, they're gonna stay in the ward for three days and maybe get taken to the inpatient for in the psychiatric ward, if that's available. That's just the reality, as you know, and that's something that can happen to people multiple times. And you went through that. So it's sort of you get a deeper understanding of, of mental illness firsthand in regards to the process and what a lot of people go through with it. And in regards to the you enter the psychiatric award as well to to visit him as well.

genevieve bailey:

Yeah, yeah, I was going there pretty much every day. And, you know, John is in his 70s. But as you might have noticed in the film, he's very physically fit. He's very slim. He eats really healthy food. And he's very physical. So he's got a bit of muscle, a bit of bone, but like, he doesn't have any body fat. And so when he got into the hospital, he was not, he was not well, but he was very much himself, and that he wasn't, he wasn't unaware of the fact that he can't cook his own meals, they can't just walk up into the kitchen and take care

Joel Kleber:

of a knife or anything like that.

genevieve bailey:

So, you know, the other thing that I would point out is that because of John's age, he wasn't he was put into a world that was first seen, it was a facility that was for senior people. And he at one point, so looked at me and said, everyone here is old. And I was like, done. And he's like, yeah, they're all they're all old. And he kind of felt like a fish out of water. Because I guess in many ways, John doesn't see himself as being the age that he is, you know, he's kind of, you know, in what a better term, a big kid at heart and lots of ways and very physical and energetic and very independent and is used to doing what he wants to do when he wants to do it. So he knew he needed care and needed to be in there. But I noticed him, you know, socializing with other people. And I thought to myself, I wonder if it's permitted if I can take John for a walk? Because I thought maybe, you know, understand that I have regulations and they said, Oh, you can take him out a city but just at the car park area, so took him out to the car park area and there's one tree and I was just stretching my back and hugging the tree John's hugging the tree. And then I thought even just that little bit of moment to go outside for 20 minutes was really good for John. And then the next day I said to them, ah, is it possible to take him for a walk anywhere else? And they said, Oh, yeah, like, we don't have enough staff to do that right now. But if you want to take him for a walk, that's fine. So I found a local park, which is about 510 minutes away and walked him there. And then he did some exercises in the play equipment where in the swing, he was doing some chin ups and some push ups and just things like that. That seems simple. But for John, using his body is a huge part of keeping himself mentally healthy. And he's told me that before. And so I thought, well, what can I offer in this situation? If I know John, really well, I know that playing music during the physical activity, those are the things that he likes. So yeah, it was really good to be able to go in there and spend time and gain some insight into what it was like there, but also take John out, and help him to feel, you know, still himself as best as he could in that way.

Joel Kleber:

Now, I thought was very, very important. It seemed to happen. What's your what's your what's your overall thoughts on Bipolar? Bipolar disorder? What is it to you? What would you describe it to someone else?

genevieve bailey:

Yeah, I mean, um, when I met John, and he told me, he lives with bipolar disorder. I'd heard of it before, but I guess I hadn't known someone. Well, maybe I've met people with bipolar and not knowing but because I was a student at University. And I got to know John, I really learned most of what I know about bipolar through my friendship with John over the years, and seeing his high highs and low lows, seeing how that impacted on him and his relationships with his family and friends. I mean, it's hard to sort of summarize, but there was quite a lot going on. And for me, I guess I learned that for some people, maybe their ups and downs might be like this. But for John his highest when he when he was feeling manic, they would last for sometimes a couple of years. And then he might have gone down. And so in that time, where he felt like he was slipping, you know, he would say, I knew that that was potentially can lead to another maybe two years of depression, very, very significant depression. So it wasn't a matter of a week or a week or so at a time, it was like really prolonged. And I know that everyone's experience is unique, and some people would not experience bipolar in that way. But I learned a lot from John. And then in making the film, and meeting Brandt, who also lives with bipolar, I learned a lot about his experience and how he, he works out when it was a recipe. And for him, his recipe for wellness is surfing every day, spending time with family, getting enough sleep, exercising, being around good people and taking his medication. So he acknowledges as to why that everyone's recipe is different. For some people, you know, not working too much, or making sure they get time in the garden or, you know, spending time dancing, or reading or sewing or learning language or connecting with family. There's so many different pieces of the puzzle. But I think what I've learned making me sad man, and learn about bipolar is that working out what works for you. And kind of sticking with it, and also communicating that with people around you. Because I actually would love to share something that I learned in the process of making happy sad man. And that was about, sometimes we don't know what to do. So we don't do anything. Or if we see someone who might be going through a hard time. We you know, talk we don't want to muck up and say the wrong things. We didn't say anything. And maybe you know, children who are living with a parent with a mental illness experience that because maybe their friends can't relate or they don't know quite how to navigate conversations that don't say anything. And sometimes that can leave people feeling really isolated, if they're not able to have chats with people about their experience. So one thing I did with John, when he was feeling really well was I asked him, you know, if you if you start feeling unwell again, John, what can I do what's helpful, and John very clearly said to me, I'm gonna want to sleep 23 hours a day, but don't let me and don't mollycoddle me. Don't feed me soup in bed. Get me up, get me doing physical activity. Get me doing housework, ironing, cleaning, fixing your fence, whatever it is get me doing things. And so that might not suit everyone. But for John, that's definitely a part of his recipe is he's making sure he's active. So yeah, that was really helpful. Because when John was unwell, I knew Okay, he's going to want to keep sleeping, but I might take him out for a walk and, you know, waiting till he's really unwell to ask him what's helpful, it would have been too late then I just don't think he would have had the capacity to describe it in detail at events. So that's something I definitely learned from the process. And I think we can all take a moment to sort of stop and think okay, when I'm feeling pretty crap, what what helps me and who can I communicate that with? Well, I

Joel Kleber:

can relate to that. 100% Because with my mom was a single mom. So as kids was the reason why she got out of bed so she had to get out of bed to maybe make his breakfast and the drivers to school. So she didn't do that. We didn't go to school, so she had to do it and As your as you said, then she might go to sleep during the whole day, but then she'd get up at three o'clock to pick us up again. So you're right on what you said everyone's recipes, differences, but how about finding that recipe earlier on? Hopefully, put that in place before, um, potentially anything can go wrong. But I just want to talk about the family relationships. So it's interesting, the difference between grants seems to have a really close family, which is, which is fantastic. And a lot of support, and his father obviously had bipolar as well. So his mom's obviously understood. And, and that's sort of when I talk to a lot of people who have mental illness, it sort of goes one way. One way is you have a tight family unit with a partner supports the parent with the mental illness, or it's just, it's not, it's throughout the picture really quickly. And then you have I think we've John, obviously, some was introduced into the scene and his son seemed like a very understanding and caring person. But obviously, from some things that was said, it seems that was a lot of maybe other members who didn't understand as much, and maybe sort of just didn't have much involved in that was very sad to see, but I can, I'm sure a lot of people can relate to that or know that. So I want to talk about that difference in the dynamics between the maybe the families,

genevieve bailey:

yeah, I mean, I think it's, it's hard for me to speak for people's other people's experience and their views. But something that I've observed is, is suspected, it's really important for me to acknowledge as a friend, you know, of someone like John that I've met him as an adult, when I was a young adult, and he was an adult, I didn't know him when he was younger, I didn't know him when he became a new dad. By the time he was 28, he had four children, four sons. And you know, everyone acknowledged that their experiences being the son of someone living with bipolar is very different from me being the friend. So I'm sure everyone listening can appreciate that. Like being the child of someone struggling with significant mental illness has so many challenges. And so, yes, there might be some people who had a bigger network around them a closer network around them who stepped in and helped. And in lots of circumstances, there'd be people who did feel more isolated, because there weren't people around. But it's also like, yeah, it would be naive of me to think everyone should just understand and help because a lot of the times, the situations are so challenging, and we don't get a book in terms of at school, how to learn how to deal with them. And that's why another reason why I may have a sad man was to try and offer an insight into these situations to start more conversations about what we can do as a community. You know, it takes a village, I really believe that and expecting us to do everything alone, especially as a single parent, or single mom, or single dad, raising kids, it's really tough. It's tough, you know, even when there is a partner, and there isn't any significant mental health issues, there's still struggles. So yeah, I think that it's, um, it's really noticeable in the film that grants parents and siblings as such supportive people. And grant talks about the fact that his mum, sort of went doctor shopping with him and, and went around and saw heaps of people until they found one that felt like a good fit. And I think even just the logistics of driving someone around. It sounds simple, but having that support, having someone that's with you, that can say, you know, what, if you're not comfortable with him or her, it's alright, we can find someone else. That's not like a small thing. But I think it was huge, and was a good reminder that sometimes as being there even assist being somebody who can be a sounding board for like, things like that is super important.

Joel Kleber:

And are with them. From your perspective, what do you think could be done more to support people with bipolar disorder? What's something that from your perspective, as a someone who's just you learned about it through in the film? What do you think would help people with that? With that I'm in Atlanta specifically.

genevieve bailey:

I mean, yeah, sounds like a cliche that it takes a village thing, but I really think it does. And I think that, hopefully, if people have a close family that understand and have the capacity, because you know, there's people who can be understanding, but they just might not have the capacity to lean in and support. And I want to acknowledge that that's completely reasonable in lots of circumstances, too. But if if the people in your immediate family or your partner don't have that capacity, like it can be really hard, because how do you find it? You know, how do you find that outside of a manifesting system? Like obviously, there's a professional medical support that you might have or need at certain times, but just finding people that you connect with and for me, I've always liked being friends with people who are from abroad age, demographic, social demographic, and not feeling like the only people who are my family or my blood relatives, but also your chosen family. So yeah, I mean, finding people who maybe have a lived experience that similar to yours, and maybe someone older than you, who's been through experiences that you've been through, doesn't matter what it is in life. I think that I benefit from that. And so, yeah, I think for Finding your people. And I'm not saying it's easy to do, but I think it's, um, it's been. Yeah, it's hugely significant in people that have observed who feel that they've got people who understand them and, and don't judge.

Joel Kleber:

And I thought I want to touch on one character one. One of the people with the film was Ivan, I thought he was a very impressive individual. And you said a few things about him in the q&a afterwards. And it was just like, you're right. Like every town needs a knife and Ivan in the film, and I think if there was a 10,000 items all around Australia, it'd be the hill a hell of a lot of people unfortunately choose to in their life. So how did you come? How'd you come across him? And what did you see from this falling around? What What was he doing in the community that was special or different in regards to helping people?

genevieve bailey:

Yeah, so Ivan, he's also in his 70s. John and I both have a lot of energy, they're not going to start what they're doing anytime soon. And I've been is a rural outreach worker. So he supports people and their mental health needs in regional communities, often farmers and farming families on the land. So he, he lives lives out there. And he understands that approaching people, you know, in a way that perhaps is not speaking, the language isn't going to work. So Ivan, as you saw in the film, goes out there has a cup of tea talks about the tractor, chassis, about the animals, and then sort of might say, it hasn't been going, I hope you had some financial stress this year, or had been coping after the fire taming, after the floods has has the marriage going how the kids and he has a really, really efficient way of speaking to people in a way where they don't feel like they're being patronized. They're not feel like they're being pushed into, you know, going to appointments, but he does prefer them to see GPS or to see counselors or see a marriage counselor or a financial consultant, because he can identify that a lot of people live in the land area isolated and won't have the time or sometimes resources or capacity to reach out for help. So yeah, I think every town needs an Ivan. And you're right, the rates of suicide, you know, in Australia are very high. And as we know, women experience just as many mental health challenges as two people who identify as non binary as men, but statistics show that men are more likely to attempt or at attempt to end their own lives to die from suicide. So Ivan has been very touched by that in his life, and wants to do a lot to help people to feel less alone and to get practical and pragmatic support.

Joel Kleber:

Yeah, I just thought the role the rural outreach roles, I just think, you know, if I'm going to fund something, as a federal government, and I saw that I'll be on geez, we need may find a lot more blokes like him. And just I just think it is such a better way to do to do the mental health care in those communities. It's such a more effective way. And I was thinking, Well, you know, why isn't the rural outreach? Well, that's the first one. I've heard of it already. We knew that existed. It's sort of something. Is that something that's like, is there a lot of that funding for those people in the community that are how does that sort of role work?

genevieve bailey:

Not short answer. No. It's even been hard. Even though Ivan is clearly very, very good at it. It's even been hard for him to be able to find enough funding to do it. And it's like, quite heartbreaking. To know. I mean, think about all overthinking about the weird things, especially when you look on the internet, Instagram, like you think about the weird things people are paid to do or things are paid to promote. And you think, Wow, isn't it amazing to think that there's people who out there not just changing potential, but potentially saving lives? who aren't able to find, you know, adequate funding, you know, to sport and to do that? It's yeah, it's something I hope changes in the future. But, yeah, it's definitely been a disappointing part of the journey, realizing how few people there are out there, able to do this sort of work and be paid for it.

Joel Kleber:

No, I thought it was just when I saw that roll. I was thinking, jeez, that makes such more common sense. This community care, you know, everyone wants to talk about hospitals, or they're thrown out, we're going to allocate $2 billion to mental health to training more Sykes or whatever. But these things like the like Ivan, like if you get a heap of them, you know, and wouldn't even I don't know how much funding will be required, but you think Geez, what a far better use of money and mental health space or other things to those sort of people. I just, it just blew my mind to not think that that was something that's in every community.

genevieve bailey:

Yeah. And also like looking at it, as you said, community care. That's like, a great way of putting it because it's like, well, that's, that's what every community needs, not to some of them, but also thinking about it in a you know, preventative way not waiting to someone's feeling 10 out of 10 You know, challenged but starting earlier and realizing okay, I'm at about five out of 10 I'm not feeling great. I might have a chat with IBM think about what I might be able to do or who's that guy I met at the Men's Shed A couple of years ago. He seemed alright, maybe contact team because a lot of people wouldn't necessarily go up into the hospital right now. But you know, getting in there earlier and having care in the community itself? Yeah, of course, as you said, it's like seems like a no brainer. That's, that's where resources should be going.

Joel Kleber:

Well, to me when I saw it, yeah, just go. Because I've spoken to a few people that have community care organizations regarding people with mental illness, and especially with people with bipolar and stuff, like it's, it's either, they're good, and they're out of hospital, and then they go have a psychosis or they go manic. And then there's emergency services called then they're in, but there's a period of deterioration for like, four or three weeks, right. Whereas, you know, they're getting unwell, and you can't do much about it. But having someone you know, like a caseworker every two weeks, or social worker, or like an island or something like that every two weeks, who knew? And they could actually some tangible help provide, I just think it's far, I can prevent a lot of lot of issues, I would say, just having that support on the ground. Yeah, I agree. So So from your, from your perspective with, with with Ivan, there's one scene in there with with the, um, the old gentleman, I just think, if you showed that to some people at some bureaucrats at federal level or state level and said, you know, this is the type of people we want to help, like, geez, I just don't see how, why that's not a keep repeating on this point. But it's something which to me, just makes a whole lot of sense to try and fund more orphans in these communities.

genevieve bailey:

Yeah, that's why I, you know, I, I'm really dedicated to working to make sure the film reaches more people, including decision makers, but also, like, we've had a number of screenings where parents come up to me, and they've attended the screening, you know, together without their children. And, you know, I remember having one couple that came up and said to me, thank you for making the films that are you know, you're welcome. And they said, we've got a daughter, who we've always just thought is lazy. We've always thought she needs to get up, get a job, get moving. She's, she's had a bad attitude. But we realized after just watching this film, she's she's struggling. She's not well, like we we need to reframe, frame our mindset and realize that, you know, she needs support, she doesn't need us to be thinking she's lazy, because this is not a choice that she's making. And I just thought that was really powerful. And I'm really glad that audiences share their feedback. And we also had, someone once said to me the screening, he stood up and said, I've always thought my dad is really annoying, and really embarrassing, and it's too much he's manic. As a teenager, I was like, Dad, can you just shut up. But after watching the film, and seeing your friendship with Johnny, it's made me realize, I would like to get to know my dad now that I'm an adult and see him in a different light as a friend, and tried to spend some time with him and get to know him. And I realize I totally understand that this is, this is complicated for a lot of people. And I'm not saying that everyone should be feeling like I did. But it was an interesting moment to sort of reflect on the fact as I said that John wasn't my dad. Funnily enough, John was born on the same date as my dad, but very different people. But um, yes, my knowledge, if anyone listening that I'm not trying to minimize the impact that complicated relationship with a parent can help and and say that we should all just, you know, turn around trying to transform these relationships overnight. But yeah, I'm glad to hear that the film is reminding people to have compassion, not only for other people, but also for themselves.

Joel Kleber:

But I think it's a good mind. I think it's it can be where Theano that flips that switch, because I was watching it. I was thinking my mom's unfortunately season, but I was watching her go on, jeez, I should have been a better son, I should have been more empathy. Like, it just just puts that it just flipped that switch. In. Yeah. And I reckon if you got to a parent, with bipolar, for example, watching something like that would definitely help you flip the switch and go Jason to change my approach, and especially for younger, because that's what I sort of thought I went back in June, geez, I needed to be a better son. And as you said, try and be more of a friend. Obviously, you because you're a friend to Johnny. And that that comment from that person who said that to you, that's a similar sort of thing, I would have felt, you know, you're living in that situation all the time. And you're exposed when you just go and Jesus is embarrassing, and all that sort of stuff. But as you get older, you sort of realize, well, they can't help it. And you know, you sort of think, well, I wish I had that help or wish I had that sort of foresight at a younger age to sort of go with the flow a bit more and just accept them for who they are. And I think your film, for example, like it's quite a satellite showed, because it would have been a lot of young people there, who could do something about it, where they can change their actual behavior towards their parents, on the basis of your film. That's why I think it's really important to get this thing in front of decision makers into front of more people to allocate the funding because I just think, from watching that there'll be people there who, who see it and go, geez, you might not you might not know if a parent with a mental illness or whatever. And maybe we're gonna start allocating funding towards places like satellite Moore and others, these other places, but he has really impactful that you said that because that's where my mind went, and I'm sure a lot of other people did. Who watched it.

genevieve bailey:

Thank you, Joel. Thank you for sharing that like it. It's hard in lots of ways it's hard for me to hear you saying that because I'm, you know, I'm a very empathetic person. I wouldn't want anyone watching the film and feeling like they should have been different or done something different. And for that to be hard emotion. Shouldn't you feel? And I'm sure that you, you know? Yeah, like, yeah, I don't know, it's a complicated that

Joel Kleber:

Yeah. And I'm just saying, Yeah, I'm just being honest. That's how I felt. And that's, that's how I felt watching it. And that's, that's something I'm sure other people, because that's when you said that about that person, that's sort of a similar thing I could relate to, and I'm sure, if someone had a parent or a family member or a mental health challenges, they probably might be thinking the same thing too. Because when you're living in it all the time with that person, it can be very, extremely frustrating, they give me a lot of anger and a lot of a lot of resentment towards the person, but it's more towards the minute honest, but when you watch a film like yours, you sort of have that you can watch it from someone else's perspective. And, you know, you'd have to be completely heartless or sociopath to not feel anything and to not sort of reflect on your own behavior and, and sort of go geez, I need to be a bit of a better person moving forward, and hopefully, you know, act differently in regards to other people with with the conditions like this. I

genevieve bailey:

will thank you for sharing that. That's, it's a good reminder to me as well, you know, like I said, I really value the feedback, because it's a good reminder to me that I want to work to make sure that more young people who are living with the parent, with a mental illness can can see the film and, and to feel part of a community where we can have conversations like this, even though sometimes they're uncomfortable, they're so important and give us an opportunity to grow and, and hopefully, yet find more support for ourselves and our loved ones, too.

Joel Kleber:

So how do you get this in front of more decision makers? What do you have to do? What what do people need to do to get in front of more decision makers?

genevieve bailey:

Yeah, well, anyone who's listening who might be interested in might be part of a community group or a workplace is full, or an individual who wants to see the film, they can check out the website and get in touch with us. We've got a screening request form where they they can also see whether film screening at the moment, so the number of streaming screenings coming up, and we always add new ones to our website. But we also do some virtual events so people can watch the film at home doesn't matter where they are, they can tune in and watch it and then engage in a q&a at the end with us. So similar to what you came to a live event in Melbourne. We do them online so people can Yeah, attend and, and share it with with people that they might want to watch the film with. So yeah, the best place is to look at happy sad men.org That's our website, happy sad man dot o RG. And feel free to get in touch or follow us on social media. It's just at happy sad film. And the reason why it's like at happy sad man is because at happy sad man was taken by some guy who has pictures of like five cats from 10 years ago. So yeah, happy sad film is where we are on socials.

Joel Kleber:

Now I've just got a couple more questions. I sort of tried to wrap it up. I didn't want to wrap it up really? Well probably left left that question led that question too early. But I'm just gonna ask you from your perspective as well. Obviously, mental health awareness is a big thing now. And it's just sort of everyone knows it's an issue. But it seems to just focus on two things, which is anxiety and depression. You know, if you said to the layperson, what's bipolar, schizophrenia? BPD, young carers, they probably wouldn't think of it in the same thing. So from your perspective, what what could be done to start shifting the conversation to get so you an example like satellite, for example, you'll receive funding, I think, a large amount of funding last year after Rose has been doing it for like 1011 years. There's another organization called Little dreamers. Same thing. After 1011 years of doing it, pretty much on a shoestring. They finally got acknowledged in the Royal Commission, Victorian and then got some money allocated towards him, which for me, hopefully, it's great, but it should be more because it's such a important important organization. So where do you think from your perspective that just just looking at as it as a normal person, it needs to go? How could you? Where does it need to go? What needs to happen next?

genevieve bailey:

Did you just call me a normal person?

Joel Kleber:

I should have called you Oh, no. Sorry.

genevieve bailey:

Insult. No, I'm joking.

Joel Kleber:

I meant as a as a as a let's say, someone, dog obviously, you're you're living in a nap because you've made a film, which is focused on that subject. And I don't really know, I don't know too much personally about yourself. If you might have chat, chat, mental health challenges or anything, I just mean, but like as a

genevieve bailey:

joking, I'm a joker and I had someone once talk to me to screening and he was 11. And he said, Oh, it's so cool to think that like a normal person can make a movie and I said Are you mad little joke? What is normal? And I probably wouldn't through what is exactly Yeah, exactly. Sorry, I was I was diagnosed semantics but I think in terms of what what needs What's the question?

Joel Kleber:

So from like, obviously, it's in general now. I always I asked this a lot of people there's mental health awareness movement, which everyone knows about mental health is an issue. But if you look at let's say the rates of people choosing their life, it's it's decreasing a little bit but it's not decreasing at the level it should be. And mental health unfortunately seems to be monopolized by a couple of big brands and those big brands just focused on depression and anxiety. There's no focus on kids a friendlier bipolar disorder. young carers, families are affected by it. So from your perspective, what can be done to shift Or where's it need to go from from here? To make things better?

genevieve bailey:

I mean, one thing I want to acknowledge, is that being part of a film like this, like not everyone will want to do that, or, or is interested. And I totally get that. So I just want to acknowledge that the guys have been so trusting and courageous to share their stories on screen. And for me, like, I always think it comes down to like, as an individual, what can I do? How can I empower myself to feel like I'm making a difference, and for me, it was making this film because in an hour and a half, there's a lot going on and episode, man, I always think it's like going on an hour and a half, you can potentially do so many things, encourage empathy, encourage action, encourage connection, help fulfill this isolated, encourage people to take action locally, or within their own home, or their school, all these different things that can do so for me, it's like I acknowledge, as you said that a lot of people have a better understanding now of what depression is or what anxiety is, but there's different, you know, mental health conditions on the spectrum that they might not know anything about BPD. Or they might not know what bipolar is. And often the way we learn about these things is through cinema and TV. And sometimes as you would know, over the years, the representations of mental illness in the media can be very misleading, very stereotypical, and sometimes very damaging. So for me, it's about how can we, how can we give people an insight that's really authentic, but also is responsible. And so I think we shouldn't put the onus on people with lived experience to have to keep talking to some people just don't want to, and I totally respect that. But for those who are comfortable to talk about it, and you know, are doing that, like, listen to them, but also amplify amplify their voices and, and get those stories out there. So for me on a personal level that's making this film making sure people can see it, starting conversations, extending conversations, but um, I think the younger generation to be honest, like lots of different conditions, whether it's physical or mental. They're learning about it online, you know, they're reading about it on social media, they're looking at an Instagram post, they're watching a video like this, or listening to podcasts like this, and it's raising awareness. So I feel quite confident as an optimist stoke optimist, that the next generation of kids like talking about how you're feeling is not there's not going to be any stigma around that in the same way that John's generation that's for, maybe there was, so I think over time, things are getting better. And there's things that we can do as individuals, just to be mindful the language we use, you know, in, in many ways, when I hear people say stuff, like manner, I'm like, What does it even mean? Like, man up, you know, like, and also, you know, like, it's very gendered language that people will sometimes use that I think can be really damaging. But also, language around mental illness can be really damaging as well. Like, that was totally insane. Oh, my gosh, that's so psycho. Oh, my gosh, you know, I've totally got OCD because I, you know, want to clean my desk, but just kind of not really understanding that how that language can be really misused. That's another thing that I feel very passionate about the language that we use and how we use it.

Joel Kleber:

Yeah, a lot of people say that he just commonly like now he's a nutcase, or she's a nutcase or something like that, you know, and he's very, you know, if you've got if you know, someone who's got a mental illness, you know, it can be very soon as you hear that, it makes you sort of get a bit worked up in a bit, doesn't it? So? Some great points there. So what are you working on next, then for what's your next project?

genevieve bailey:

Yeah, I've actually just started a brand new project, which is really exciting, with Lifeline Australia. So they're celebrating the 60th anniversary next year. And I'm just starting to make a documentary with them. And we'll be sort of looking at exploring and getting insights into their history, but also in present day classes, support workers that are out the phones and answering calls and responding to people who need a hand, something that I'm really interested in as well. So yeah,

Joel Kleber:

awesome. Sounds good. So thank you very much. I'll leave it there for today. I think I've taken more than half of your time. And thank you very much for accommodating me and very privileged to have have you on and it's just a fantastic thing you've been doing and done. I think it's as you said, the way you've may been able to make an impact in the mental health space is far greater than a lot of other people who I think I'd obviously a lot of people do great work in it. But I think it's just been a fantastic Avenue. And it's such a good way. And I think it's a really impactful way to get this message out. And I just hope more people watch, watch this film and have the opportunity to see it, and especially decision makers, you know, if you get a bureaucrat sitting in this, I'm sure, I'll tell you what they're going to have to be pretty heartless person to not want to go into, you know, start allocating more money towards different services and organizations that are out there.

genevieve bailey:

Well, thank you, Joel, thank you for saying that. And also I want to acknowledge the amount of effort and love that you put into producing This podcast and sharing stories that otherwise some people might not be hearing. So thank you for being so honest and dedicated to making a difference in this space as well.

Joel Kleber:

I need to do more. But thank you very much for for for your time today. I really appreciate it.

genevieve bailey:

No worries. Have a good weekend. See ya. See ya

Genevieve BaileyProfile Photo

Genevieve Bailey

Director and Award Winning Filmmaker

Genevieve Bailey’s films have screened in 50 countries, winning over 30 awards to date. With a background in short drama, comedy, and music videos, I AM ELEVEN (2011), her ambitious first feature documentary, was shot in 15 countries and 12 languages. It received critical acclaim and a theatrical release in Australia spanning over eight months, including a record 26 weeks at Cinema Nova in Melbourne. I AM ELEVEN was named New York Times Critic's Pick when it opened cinemas.

Genevieve's latest film is Happy Sad man, which is about opening up and gaining insight into how we can better be there for ourselves, our mates, and our loved ones. Produced by Proud Mother Pictures. 7 years in the making, shot across Australia in Victoria, NSW, Northern Territory, Queensland, and Tasmania. Features 5 male key participants aged in their 30s-70s, and additional participants, both male and female, aged into their 90s.