I have long felt a sense of duty towards being open about my own struggles with mental health, in the hope that the stigma and benightedness I have experienced will not continue to occur.
The name of the film comes from my own Mummy dearest. She has taken to calling me "fruitcake" in a mocking but affectionate way. I think if anyone else called me 'fruitcake' I'd be mortally offended. It seemed a fitting title.
Fruitcake is a film based on my personal experiences with mental health, as well as other sufferers I met during my time spent in psychiatric hospital. It documents the realities of psychosis and mania, and highlights the current unavailability of appropriate mental health care within the National Health Service.
My aim with the film is to evoke a sense of discomfort and vulnerability, as well as to show the reality of serious mental illness. I feel passionately about changing the way society currently views illnesses such as schizophrenia, manic depression and anxiety. It is estimated that one in four people in Britain will be touched by mental illness, and I believe that estimate to be a conservative one. I feel that the stigma surrounding the subject has led to vast numbers of people not seeking proper treatment. In my ideal world, reference to mental illness would be met with the same understanding as physical ailment. With this film, I want to create a moment in which the viewer is exposed to the confusion, discomfort and anxiety experienced everyday by sufferers of mania and psychosis. My hope is to commence a conversation on mental health issues in order to combat the stigma and denigration currently experienced by the afflicted.
While I was in hospital, I had access to some limited art supplies, which consisted of watercolours and wax crayons. It is for this reason that I chose to animate the film using paint and oil pastel. In a bid to make the film feel as though it could have been made whilst inside the ward.
I did not want this film to feel comfortable for the viewer, so I decided to make the movement of the animation as awkward as possible. I did not use keyframes to animate, instead drawing sequential images from start to finish.
This film has been a personal journey, and I feel that the emotions evoked by it are honest. I hope that in my own small way, I can contribute to the breakdown of the social stigma surrounding the subject.