Bristol Hearing Voices Network
The Bristol Hearing Voices Network aims to promote positive explanations of voice-hearing, intrusive thoughts and other unusual experiences, and to give people a framework for developing their own ways of coping with distressing experiences.
Conor McCormack and the group treated the film as a shared endeavour, a means of exploring in depth the complex realm of voice hearing. The difficult task of representing a group of vulnerable adults was carefully negotiated throughout the shoot: supporting ongoing discussions of the ethics of filmmaking, regular screenings were arranged where participants could view and discuss the film and the implications of their involvement.
More information about the Bristol Hearing Voices Network, including meeting times, can be found on their website.
Errol, who was one of the film’s main subjects, had this to say about the project:
‘Working, with Conor, on a film about the voice hearing experience was for me a chance to share with the world my story. Everyone who has voices, in their life, experiences them in a unique and individual way. Everyone’s story is different, yet there are similarities. So I hoped that the film would show a different quality of thought, that would make people rethink what they accepted, that it would challenge the stigma of mental health issues which alienate people and causes a lot of fear.
At the viewing of the complete documentary at our Bristol Hearing Voices Group AGM I was immediately struck by how powerful a film can be. Afterwards, some of the people said that they felt quite emotional watching it and the Q&A session which followed stimulated discussion. Being with some of the others who were in the film on a panel to answer questions from the audience felt like we were all trying to get across a message. I think part of that message was: “Voice hearing experiences are very real for me and what I am sharing is my reality.”
The journey from the beginning of the filming was one of optimism and a hope that what we were doing would contribute to a more resonant understanding of what it is like to live with hearing voices and the relationships we have.
The finished product, for me, is like a jewel that you need to hold up to the light to see it sparkle. It is rich with the lives of ordinary people leading a life that is far from ordinary and can be mysterious. It is about a struggle to make sense of the unusual and a desire to be understood.’