“No Letting Go” is a movie straight out of the mind, and life, of co-director Randi Silverman and her family about their experience with bipolar disorder. She teamed up with director Jonathan Bucari, producer Carina Rush and actress Cheryl Allison, who played Mrs. Spencer, Timothy’s mother, to create this “master class on the psychiatric condition.” The film is loosely based on actual events that occurred with the Silverman family.
“No Letting Go” expands on the message delivered about bipolar disorders in the short film “Illness,” released in 2013 by Jonathan Bucari. It depicts the effects of mental disorders on friends and family, as well as on those who suffer from the diseases. Mrs. Silverman said the public reaction to “Illness” was powerful. “[After Illness was released], the most common reaction [we] heard was ‘We wish it was a feature film’. That was all the inspiration [we needed].”
Noah Silverman, one of Mrs. Silverman’s three sons and star of “Illness,” plays the lead role of Timothy Spencer, the boy who struggles with untreated bipolar disorder. In reality, her own son’s diagnosis did not come until after many years, over 50 different medications with uncomfortable and very negative side effects and several trips to the psychiatric hospital.
“Without blood tests or brain scans that detect mental illness, it takes an average of nine years between the first symptoms and a diagnosis,” Mrs. Silverman said. “By the time [Tim’s] diagnosis came, he was so ill. ”Randi and Noah Silverman are very kind, sincere and determined people with such a noble cause.
I was deeply humbled by an invitation to interview both of them, and it is my pleasure to share a bit of that session.
Q & A
Becky Barton: Were the events portrayed in “No Letting Go” actual events that your family experienced?
Randi Silverman: Very loosely based. The emotions and struggles with school, we did experience. Some of the scenes are exact replicas of incidents that took place. However, much of the movie was altered to protect privacy, and to show how quickly things can escalate with similar cases of bipolar disorder.
BB: Did your family’s experiences prompt you to become involved in mental health awareness programs and campaigns?
RS: I have been deeply involved in mental health studies and programs for about seven years now. I am also a board member of the National Bipolar Foundation. This movie was a chance for me to use things my family and I learned, as well as education I received after my son was diagnosed, to catch the attention of families out there who might be going through the same thing. Being a stay-at-home mom ever since my boys were born helped me make the time to invest in learning as much about bipolar disorder, and other mental illnesses, and share what I learned with my community.
Noah Silverman: I actually started the first high school chapter of a mental health awareness program called “Active Minds” at my school. I hope to enlighten students at my school and to see the program spread to schools across the nation so that we can remove some of the stigma that surrounds mental disorders earlier in life.
BB: Did “No Letting Go” help your family become closer?
RS: Absolutely! We had the support of everyone in the family, and everyone lent their support, a hand or suggestions and ideas. I would have never done this movie without their support. And watching the movie together was quite an enlightening, emotional experience as well. [Tim] even said to me that he had forgotten so much of what had happened during that time and that he had a new perspective from our side of things. The rest of us were able to see things through his eyes, too. It helped motivate his brothers to become more involved in what was he was going through and to learn as much as they could about bipolar disorder so that they could better help and support him.
NS: It definitely did. There were things that none of us completely understood that, after the filming and screening of this movie, we were able to see more clearly from the other perspective. [My brother] apologized for things our other brother and I went through during that time. It helped us all understand better, and that definitely brought us closer together.
BB: Noah, how did it feel to play a character that was based on your brother?
NS: Even though I did not actually play my brother, the character definitely had thoughts and feelings similar to my brother’s during those years. I did not actually play my brother, but I got a real look at how things were for him back then. It was an incredible experience, and it helped me understand my brother a bit better.
The film won several awards at the South Hampton International Film Festival, including “Best Screenplay” and “Best Actor,” awarded to Noah Silverman for his wonderful, moving performance.
The cast also includes Richard Brugl, Kathy Najimy, Janet Hubert, Alysia Reiner, Jared Gilman, and Noah Fleiss. Production was provided by Demian Pictures and Illness Productions.
“No Letting Go” has had more than 20 requests for screenings in individual communities, and Mrs. Silverman hopes that the requests, and the raising of mental health awareness, continue to increase. You can find the trailer to the film on YouTube, and it is also available through Amazon Instant, Google Play, ITunes, Vimeo, or through cable service providers.