Holly Hardman has been working in film and media since the 1980’s. She entered the field of journalism and non-fiction as a researcher, and worked for Rolling Stone, Manhattan, Inc., PBS, and Twentieth Century Fox. In the early 1990’s Hardman began writing, directing, and producing short films; her shorts were distributed by New Day, insound and M/W/F Video. Her first narrative feature, Besotted, was released theatrically by Artistic License Films. Hardman’s first documentary feature, Good People Go to Hell, Saved People Go to Heaven, premiered at IDFA in 2012 and was an award winner at the Knoxville Film Festival. Hardman has been a guest lecturer at Williams College and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and has screened and spoken at University of Southern California, Barnard College, and Dartmouth College. Hardman lives in western Massachusetts where she is raising her 15-year-old daughter.
What do I do best?
I love to listen to people; I love to listen carefully and patiently to their stories. I suppose I use different methods, depending on the person. If someone has an easy time telling their story, it is wonderful – like listening to a beautiful piece of music. If they are not, it becomes as much a visual exercise as an aural one. What are their mannerisms and movements indicating? Are they in a state of mind that allows them to find the words they wish to speak? Are they impaired in some way? If so, the conversation can be particularly enriching as I listen intently, deciphering what the person wants to communicate – and what I need to learn.
What makes me the best version of myself?
Curiosity. It’s inherent. I have very little control over it. My curiosity has led me to take many risks, some unwise. But many of those risks gave my life a broader tone, brought genuine reward, and created some truly wondrous experiences.
What are my aspirations?
PERSONAL. To sell my house in Massachusetts and move back to New York – or at least live closer. I should clarify. I’d like to be able to afford to move back. A compromise in locale will likely have to do. There’s a cool town with a NY vibe not so far north of the city that should do just fine.
BUSINESS. I care deeply about my current documentary project, AS PRESCRIBED. I want so badly for it to achieve all that is possible for a film about an under-reported and misunderstood social issue – the misprescribing of benzodiazepines and related psychotropic medications. We have a worldwide epidemic that needs to be addressed, and I want my film to help expose this epidemic and be part of a movement to effect change.
My Biggest Success?
Fifteen years ago I adopted my daughter as a single mother and navigated the challenging international adoption system – that was a momentous time. And then what followed – I managed to raise her despite all the knocks and bumps that parenthood involves. She’s a lovely, healthy, spirited teen now. Without question, becoming mother to that orphaned and infirm infant (my daughter!) has been my greatest accomplishment, and has also brought me my deepest joy.
My Most Challenging Moment?
In the early 80’s I moved to California from the East Coast. I was running away from a bad relationship as well as a sadness I could not shake after my father’s unexpected death. I knew nobody other than a small group of LA-based people I’d worked with on a film in Boston. I had a one-way ticket to Los Angeles and ten cardboard boxes that held all my worldly belongings – pots and pans, bed linens, my clothes, my books, and my record collection. I had never been to Southern California, but I was going to make it work. I was running away, I suppose, and for that I paid a price. But, for all that went wrong, so much went right. I listened to the voice within that directed me to leave a lackluster acting career and create new opportunity. I had the good fortune to find a free-lance position for Rolling Stone Magazine and enter the LA punk scene as an engaged observer. It felt right then and still feels right now – engaged observation. That’s when I feel most authentic and most purposeful, and I do believe that is still when I do my best work.
I’ve developed this strange habit while driving that I realize has become a mantra of sorts. Without thinking I find myself singing a mangled version of the Beatles song Getting Better. “…Got to admit it’s getting better, getting better all the time…Better better better…Getting so much better all the ti-ime.” Repeat. Keep repeating.
My Favorite People/Role Models?
There is a group of people I’ve worked with over the past decade and more who keep me on my toes and inspire me to keep developing as a filmmaker. They are all consistently “at their best,” yet somehow manage to aspire for better. And they do so with grace and goodwill. Working with each of them has been and continues to be an honor: cinematographer Scott Shelley, editor Cam Clendaniel, sound editor Margaret Crimmins, and post-production masters Will Cox and Caitlin Tartaro. If I had known how amazing the people in the documentary film community are, I would have been making moves to join their ranks much earlier in my film career.
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
If French is spoken and good fresh food is served, I’m game, especially if it’s a time of year that’s warm and sunny. I’m a Francophile at heart.
My Favorite Products/Objects?
Dirt toothpaste and soft natural-bristle toothbrushes, Omega-3s that come in travel packs, earbuds, and good books. Right now I’m reading The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
My Current Passions?
My passion is the documentary I am currently working on, both because I love the process of making a film and because this project has an important purpose that aligns with my personal beliefs and priorities. I hope to help people who have been harmed by benzodiazepines and other psychotropic drugs. I have a vision of healing centers around the world that welcome the harmed; that practice radical patience; that use holistic, earth-friendly healing methods. I see the wise and compassionate healers at these centers guiding profoundly injured people back to health and their hoped-for versions of normal life.