I set out to make a portrait of my father. However a much bigger story emerged. You See Me is about my family dealing with trauma, loss and grief, as well as my own journey to rehabilitate the memory of my father and connect with my mother in a new and unexpected way.
As a child I spent a lot of time with my dad. We were buddies, always doing things together and yet I can’t say I ever really understood him.I had the feeling he truly wanted to be more connected and engaged but his mood swings, anger and erratic behavior seemed to consume him. I attempted in an earlier documentary Your Favorite to figure out the reason, the cause for this disconnect. But as a young fledgling filmmaker, I lacked the maturity and experience needed to ask the difficult questions that would help me delve into his complex and troubled past. The film was the beginning of a lifelong quest. But one I put on hold.
Twenty years later, at age seventy-nine, and in failing health my father Stanley suffered a debilitating stroke. I knew if I was ever to make sense of his life and our relationship, now was the time. My plan was to return to those difficult questions about his past while I documented his recovery. But the next few years were a whirlwind of dramatic life-changing events: the rapid mental and physical deterioration of my father, the heartbreaking circumstances of his death, the uncovering of long hidden family secrets, the discovery of a treasure trove of redeeming video tapes and the unexpected bond that developed between me and my mother.
During this journey I began to see my parents differently, separate from me, with their stories, virtues and flaws. They were more than the roles and labels I had ascribed to them. They were products of their own histories and parents, wrestling with their own demons, just like me.
They were the same parents I had known before I began filming but seemed different. Now when I asked my mom in the film why she put up with the abuse, I heard a thoughtful, reasoned answer, not a weak excuse. When I felt angry with my dad for endlessly trying to get his mother’s love, I realized I had been doing the same thing with him. Once I saw my parents as equals, allies I was able to empathize with them, because I saw myself in them.
My hope with You See Me is that audiences see their own family stories and relationships in it and they see the power of love and forgiveness to turn trauma and loss into a potent catalyst for change. Even though the film deals with illness and death, it’s really about beginnings, hope and how opportune things can happen when least expected.
LINDA J BROWN DIRECTOR/EDITOR
Linda J Brown is the is a recipient of a Kodak Vision Award for cinematography, a Kodak Education Award and a Fulbright Scholar. Her credits include Lucky Bastard, Sexual Tension, Trust Dance and American Beauties: In Pursuit of Art, which she also produced. Brown shot Walking to Waldheim with Doris Roberts and episodes of Showtime’s Women: Stories of Passion, plus various documentaries and music videos throughout her long career. Her documentary, Your Favorite won recognition at Athens International Film Festival and the American Film Festival. Brown’s latest documentary, You See Me, received a USC Humanities Research Grant and has screened nationally and internationally at over three dozen festivals and was nominated or won awards at a dozen Linda recently signed a distribution deal with GOOD DOCS. Linda is presently an Associate Professor at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and Head of the Cinematography Track.
REBECCA LOUISELL ASSOCIATE PRODUCER
NELS BANGERTER EDITOR
Nels Bangerter is a documentary film editor and two-time winner of both the International Documentary Association’s and Cinema Eye Honors’ Best Editing awards. His work includes Cameraperson (2016), which premiered at Sundance and won the Freedom of Expression award from the National Board of Review, Very Semi-Serious (2015), which won Best Bay Area Documentary at SFIFF, and Let the Fire Burn (2013), which won the Independent Spirit Truer Than Fiction Award. He has been an advisor to the Sundance Institute Lab Program and has been nominated for two News and Documentary Emmys.
ALEXIS & SAM COMPOSERS
Composing duo Alexis Marsh & Samuel Jones began their career collaborating with rising filmmakers in Los Angeles after graduating from USC’s Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television program. The two multi-instrumentalists have since contributed music ranging in style from electronic minimalism to lush orchestral for feature films We’ll Never Have Paris, Lila & Eve, Preservation, Equity, Next Gen, TV shows TNT’s Animal Kingdom, HBO’s Sesame Street, documentaries Ingrid, 20 Years of Madness, Looking At The Stars.
Alexis & Sam’s film work has been heard at Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca, AFI Fest, and Slamdance. In 2016, they launched the band project DYAN whose work can be heard on the TV shows Better Things, Good Behavior, Deception, Lucifer, and Jessica Jones.