In September 2015, POV asked Art and Craft filmmakers Sam Cullman, Mark Becker and Jennifer Grausman what's happened since the cameras stopped rolling.
Can you provide an update on where Mark Landis and Matthew Leininiger are now? Has Mark shown any of his work in additional shows? Did Matthew get a new job and move on from "catching" Mark?
Mark Landis continues to meet admirers at screenings and festivals around the country. He now spends much of his time working on commissioned work from his website: http://marklandisoriginal.com and enjoys staying in touch with new friends he's met through his travels with Art and Craft.
Matt Leininger now enjoys his Tier III Process Assistant position in Sortation with Amazon Fulfillment in Hebron, Kentucky. He continues to reside in Cincinnati with his wife of 18 years, Jennie, and now seven year-old daughter, Katie, who is excelling in the second grade. Matt still wonders why he was the lone registrar to discover Mark Landis and stop him.
In what ways has Mark Landis engaged with the film since it's premiere at festivals and in theaters? How does he feel about the documentary?
Mark Landis has been a great spokesman for the film. He's attended many Q&As at festivals across the country, special events like the National Alliance on Mental Illness conference in Washington, DC (where he received a standing ovation after the film screening), and of course the theatrical premiere of the film in New York City. Mark has reported that he enjoyed the documentary when he first saw it at the Tribeca Film Festival, and though he only needed to watch it once — "he lived it, after all" — he continues to be a big supporter of the film. Still, he is quick to point out that if he'd made the film himself, it would have been the kind of movie that a politician might make about themselves where all the "bad parts would have been left on the cutting room floor."
Please share some of the most interesting reactions from viewers of the film. Have you been surprised by any of the conversations the film has helped start?
It's been wonderful to experience diverse reactions to the film — some people are sympathetic to Mark's point of view and others to Matt's, but most are drawn to the complexity of both characters and their parallel journeys.
Interestingly, after experiencing the film, many truly think of Mark as an artist, even as he continues to deny himself that designation (and is working constantly on non-forgery "original" paintings these days). As filmmakers, we're just thrilled to see the film leave viewers wrestling with questions about how we define and construct authenticity and authorship in the art world — and also in ourselves.
What additional conversations do you hope the public television broadcast of Art and Craft will spark?
Since being diagnosed at age 17 with schizophrenia and various other mental health disorders, Mark Landis fought to "escape the life of a mental patient" (his words) and for the most part he succeeded. His freedom allowed him the chance to engage with society, but he often found himself isolated from the world with which he wanted to connect. The reason Mark spends so much time alone in his room copying pictures accompanied by Turner Classic Movies and his paintings is in part due to this social isolation. Over the three years in making this film, we came to see that Mark's 30-year con was not so much a function of his mental illness but something that grew out of his need for the kind of validation and social engagement that we all seek and can often take for granted.
We hope that Art and Craft can provoke discussion about our societal approach to mental illness and the social isolation of people living with it. It's not just unfortunate that someone like Mark is alone in the world, but it is deeply problematic that people like Mark can't easily contribute their gifts to it. Fostering social engagement, integration, ways for folks connect and contribute seem like worthy goals for mental health policy moving forward. We would all benefit from a society that welcomes people like Mark Landis.
What are each of you working on next?
Sam Cullman is working as a cinematographer on other people's films and is developing his own documentaries (which he hopes to start shooting in earnest once his newborn son sleeps more than three hours in a row).
Jennifer Grausman is writing a narrative screenplay and developing new documentaries.
Mark Becker is developing his own documentaries and narrative films, and working as a consulting editor on several documentaries.