MENTAL was filmed on location at the mental health clinic
Chorale Okayama and surrounding area in Okayama, Japan,
in fall of 2005 and summer of 2007. In total, there were
about thirty shooting days, which produced about seventy
hours of raw footage. Editing took about ten months to
complete and was done in New York City.
Director Kazuhiro Soda's mother-in-law, Hiroko Kashiwagi,
is the founder/director of a non-profit organization called
Kicchako, whose mission is to help the elderly and disabled
live comfortably in their own homes. Ms. Kashiwagi and
Chorale maintain a close working relationship, and Soda
became acquainted with the mental health clinic through
her. In 2004, he asked the clinic for permission to film.
The matter was discussed at the Chorale's activists' meeting,
and they accepted Soda's proposal on the condition that he
get the permission of every patient that he films.
Most of the shooting was done by Kazuhiro Soda and his
wife Kiyoko Kashiwagi. Kiyoko is a professional dancer and
choreographer, and she personally has known many patients
at the clinic since she once held a dance performance for them.
Her task during the shooting was to assist Soda behind the camera.
Equipment in hand, Soda and Kiyoko entered the waiting room
of Chorale, gave self-introductions, explained the aims of the
project, and asked each patient if they could film him or her.
However, eight or nine out of every ten patients refused their
request. Many patients have hidden the fact that they suffer
from a mental illness from their friends, colleagues, and even
family members. There were some days when the filmmakers
were unable to shoot at all because no patients agreed to be filmed.