FSJ writer Holly Keehn conducted an interview with Tamlin Hall, writer, producer, and director of the award-winning film Holden On.
On October 23, The Miller Center for the Arts showed the film Holden On produced by Tamlin Hall that portrays the life of a boy diagnosed with schizophrenia. Following the film Hall, San San Webber, Clinical Program Director at Berks Counseling Center, and Holly Keehn, a fellow RACC student that has personal experience with mental health issues, held a Q&A session. The Q&A session gave the public a chance to ask questions about the film and how to recognize and prevent mental illness in friends or family. After the session, FSJ writer Holly Keehn conducted an interview with Hall to better learn about his inspiration behind the film.
1) Where did you go to college and what was your major?
I was an undergraduate at the University of Georgia where I earned a Bachelor of Sciences in Agriculture and then attended Graduate School at the University of California at Los Angeles and earned a Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting.
2) What was your involvement in the movie Holden On?
Writer, Director, Producer.
3) How well did you know Holden?
We knew each other growing up. We were friends with each other.
4) During your interactions with Holden, did you ever get the sense that he had a mental illness?
No, I did not.
5) Did you always know that you wanted to make a movie about Holden’s life or was there a specific moment that made you want to make it?
I felt like Holden was calling me to tell his story in 2005. I finally reached out to Holden’s parents in 2008 to ask permission to tell Holden’s story.
6) How was the movie received, in your opinion, by critics and audiences around the world?
Mental health and suicide are universal. [Holden On] has been well-received and highly acclaimed.
7) What are other ways you are a part of helping bring awareness to mental illness?
We formed a nonprofit called IAMHOLDENON to absolve mental health “othering” and prevent suicide.
8) You have moved the movie Holden On onto being much more than just a movie about mental illness, with creating your nonprofit and joining the #areyouokay movement; was that always your intention?
We always felt our duty as artists and filmmakers is to continue to create content that builds a movement surrounding mental health awareness and suicide prevention. Our next project, HOPE GIVERS, is an educational series that highlights personal calls-to-action of hope through resiliency.
9) You must have interviewed many people who knew Holden on a very personal level. Did everyone want to participate and did anyone comment on their feelings towards you making the movie?
I interviewed so many people. Of course, some people were skeptical. We’re telling a story that deals with mental illness, substance abuse issues, and suicide. It was Holden’s family’s belief in me that carried me through this incredibly difficult road. We accomplished this film through dignity, respect, and honor. Everyone is stronger friends now than when we began this journey ten years ago.
10) What emotions do you feel when you watch the movie?
I still feel all emotions and I’ve watched the film billions of times.
11) Has the movie won any awards or special acknowledgments?
This film has won numerous awards across the country. I was also honored in the 2018 Georgia General Assembly for Holden On and exemplary work with advocacy and arts.
Awards: 2017 Georgia Film Critics Association: Oglethorpe Award Nominee for Excellence in Georgia Cinema / Orlando Film Festival: Best Director / Breckenridge Film Festival: Best Director / Atlanta Film Festival: Best Feature Audience / Dances with Films: Best Feature Audience / Macon Film Festival: Best Feature Audience / Breckinridge Film Festival: Best Actor / South Bay Film and Music Festival: Jury Prize Outstanding Social Impact Filmmaking / Woodstock Film Festival: Nominated Ultra Indie Award.
12) What would be your message to those who think they know someone suffering from a mental illness?
My message would be that you are not alone. All families are impacted by mental illness. You are loved. You are important. Your voice matters.