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Monica Zinn

Bandage up an open wound.
Eat nutritious foods and exercise.
Drink plenty of fluids and rest when feeling ill.

We know how to take care of our physical bodies because we are taught how to do so, but when it comes to mental health we're severely under-informed.

Emotional wounds feel vaporous, unimportant, and shameful. Worst of all, unlike our physical bodies there's no indoctrinated treatment guidelines about mental health, so many of us struggle to find useful coping mechanisms as we don our
cheerful faces.

PSYCHED is a highly stylized, educational docu-series designed to reframe the way we think about mental health. Aimed at teens and young adults, it is an intimate look at how healthy coping strategies help people evolve from suffering.

The series features stories from Dr. Konstantin Batygin (named one of the 10 “Most Brilliant” People of 2016 by Popular Magazine, and selected for the Forbes 30 Scientists Under 30 Who Are Changing the World); Rose Turner and Vanessa Edwards, artists; and dancers Kaner Scott and Stevie Gibbs, and expert insight from Guy Winch, author of Emotional First Aid. Each story takes place in a different part of the country, ranging from Alaska to Front Royal, Virginia to New York City to London, and Pasadena, California.

Each PSYCHED episode features one of these impassioned and accomplished individuals who has overcome significant emotional suffering and distress by finding their own adaptive coping strategies. A mental health professional grounds their story in accessible and relatable information. These episodes are beautiful, moving, and informative with a light-hearted and playful tone that refuses to shy away from suffering.

With cinematography from award-winning cinematographer Michael Potter of Jose Remi Productions, and an ethereal score from composer Joe Berry of French electronic music band M83 PSYCHED will have the sharp focus of character-driven series like Chef’s Table, with the poetic, haunting feel of a Terrence Mallick film. Similar to the celestially intimate My Beautiful Broken Brain, PSYCHED will communicate a visual manifestation of our innermost worlds— like the deepest, most secret parts of you are finally being recognized. Classic interview shots will ground each episode in reality, while immersive verite photography bathes the viewer in the protagonist's first person experience. Abstract Intro/Outro shots will be similar to Cutie and the Boxer - where you are immersed in artistic expression, while illustrating the internal progression from pain to relief.

The idea for PSYCHED came from an interview Zinn conducted with Dr. Mitch Prinstein, Director of Clinical Psychology at UNC Chapel Hill, which was done for her previous documentary, Self Inflicted, which tackled non-suicidal self injury. Zinn was interested in what communities, friends, and parents could do to help curb the maladaptive behavior associated with self-harm.

“Ideally, a program on adaptive coping strategies would be in every parenting program and every school’s curriculum. This would solve a lot of problems, including non-suicidal self injury, but also many other problems we are seeing with students today,” Dr. Prinstein said.

Hearing these words felt like a call-to-action, and Zinn has been developing this project ever since.

Rooted in positive psychology and behavioral therapy, PSYCHED provides an alternative to the more commonly seen “tortured artist” narrative, which often presents the notion that suffering can only be dealt with via self-destruction. Instead, these stories show viewers that while pain and suffering are unavoidable, their obstacles can also be opportunities for growth.

PSYCHED will benefit the public by helping a generation of young people heal and understand themselves by developing healthy coping strategies. With increasingly rising rates of drug use, non-suicidal self injury, and eating disorders, PSYCHED is needed now more than ever.

About the Director: Monica Zinn is an award-winning documentary filmmaker who has been making educational films about mental illness for seven years. Her past films, Perfection, (Winner, Best Documentary, Virginia Student Film Festival) a documentary about eating disorders, and Self Inflicted (Winner, Bronze Telly in Education), which extensively explores non-suicidal self injury, are distributed worldwide by Human Relations Media. Her work has been covered by various media outlets, including The Washington Post and Wired.

PSYCHED is produced in association with Daughter & Sons, based out of SIBLING Los Angeles.

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