Justin Schein faces an unthinkable dilemma in "Left on Purpose"
Talking DocumentaryOctober 04, 202100:42:1538.61 MB

Justin Schein faces an unthinkable dilemma in "Left on Purpose"

Justin Schein is a veteran filmmaker who has worked with scores of documentary subjects, but nothing could prepare him for an aging yippee named Mayer Vishner. Schein thought he was making a documentary about Vishner’s life. Vishner had a different idea, and it shook Schein to his core and tested his mettle as a friend, filmmaker and human being. Schein's 2015 film, "Left On Purpose," follows the colorful, unforgettable Vishner through a minefield of emotional and ethical issues.


Intro: Hi, I'm Scott Lacy, and this is Talking Documentary. Justin Schein is a veteran of film and a man who knows his way around people. He knows that when you follow someone with a camera, someone quirky enough to be a great documentary subject, well, you better buckle up. You're on a ride to parts unknown. But nothing could prepare Schein for Mayer Vishner. Vishner was an aging yippee who in his younger days had run with '60s characters such as Abbie Hoffman. Schein wanted to tell his story, and Vishner agreed to participate. But Vishner had a different story in mind. He revealed it after filming began, and the idea rattled Shine to his core and tested his mettle as a friend, a human and as a filmmaker. Schein's resulting film "Left on Purpose" was released in 2015. It's a film that raises as many questions as it answers and lingers in the psyche for weeks afterward. Schein joins me today from New York City.

Scott Lacy: So, Justin, thank you so much for taking some time today.

Justin Schein: Well, it's my pleasure.

Scott Lacy: I might have mentioned in speaking to you before that I've seen 59 documentary films this year and this one among all 59 is the one that has lingered the longest with me. It's kind of part of my imagination now, and I really appreciate you revisiting the movie six years later. I want to start by asking you: How did you come to know Mayer Vishner?

Justin Schein: Hmm. Well, I met Mayer while working on another film, the film I had made before I made left on purpose. It was a film called No Impact Man, and it was a film about a family trying to live in New York with as little environmental impact as possible. So I was following them in their routine and they were working this project in stages and they finally got to the stage of food and they decided that they were going to grow their own food. And this is in New York City. So they found a community garden and the only gardener there that was actually growing food and not flowers was Mayer. So he kind of became a ancillary figure in that film and a really fascinating one because he had lived a life of activism and really had a lot of credibility in kind of being a critic of the "no impact" project from within the film, which was very valuable. And you know, I was just fascinated by him and I learned his history. He had been, you know, an anti-war activist and really an activist all his life. During the sixties, he had really been at the forefront of the anti-war movement. He had been one of the original yippees when I found him in his, you know, two-room tenement in New York City in the early 2000s. He was really struggling with emotional issues and with alcoholism, but he still had that spark and that real intelligence. So when I finished that film, it occurred to me that I would love to do a profile of Mayer to better understand his history and where he was now. I think it was the end of the Bush administration, and I was interested in his kind of view of politics, and it kind of went from there.

Scott Lacy: As a filmmaker, the wheels are always turning. So there's a point when you said, hmm, there's something here. Tell me about what you thought the original conception of the film would be.

Justin Schein: I mean, he was such a rich character, and he had a great sense of humor. He had been a comedian. He had been an activist. He had been kind of a Forrest Gump through a certain period of history where he had kind of been at the side of all these interesting and pivotal figures. So I was interested in this idea of juggling the history with a history that I didn't know enough about and wanted to learn more about. You know, I had been making films since about 1990, and I know that you have to be open to where the film is going to take you. You know, you always have a conception of what you think is going to happen, but you also kind of know and need to be open to where the film is going to take you.

Scott Lacy: When did you realize that Mayer had other ideas for what your film was going to be about?

Justin Schein: Well, I'd say right from the beginning, you know, Mayer was an active participant. I mean, he had been a yippie. And as I learned more about the yippies, I knew that they were kind of these merry pranksters of the antiwar movement. But they were also kind of brilliant at using public relations to get attention for the things that they cared about. And so, you know, Mayer was always a challenging person. I think most people that knew him would agree. You know, the first scene of the film actually happened pretty early on when I went to visit him. He called me up before I came by and he said, "Well, can you bring me some beer?" And being what I hope to be as a thoughtful filmmaker and human, and knowing that Mayer seemed to have struggles with drinking, I wasn't sure whether that was a good thing to do. So I decided that if I was going to bring him beer, that it had to be on camera because I didn't want to be aiding and abetting his problems as payment for his participation. And in that scene, you know, I give him the beer and I tell him I'm a little concerned about his request and my fulfilling it. And he said, "Well, if you think that's worrisome, hold on to your hat." So he definitely had other ideas. And slowly, as I began to spend more and more time with him, it became clear that he was really kind of clinically depressed and six months into the filming when he told me that he was planning his suicide, it wasn't a surprise to me. It was shocking, as it would be to hear anybody that you care about, and we did have a close relationship. But in some ways, it wasn't a surprise. It was also something that I wasn't really convinced—or I didn't know how serious he was—about it.

Scott Lacy: So I would imagine that something you had to take home and wrestle with. And if I'm correct, your wife is the producer on this film. I'm sure that led to some interesting discussions about how to proceed.

Justin Schein: It was very difficult trying to decide. Whether I could continue making a film, whether. And more importantly, to to to figure out as a friend and somebody that cared about my friend. What does one do when somebody tells you that? So I'm a filmmaker and a human being, and these are interesting questions to me. And it occurred to me that it would be very interesting to try to make a film that explored this relationship and where this was going and how this was resolved, not having any idea what was going to happen next. But, you know, as a filmmaker for 20 years, at the time, I had found that almost every film I worked on as a cinematographer or as a director or in any capacity, I always found myself in the middle of ethical questions. I mean, often those are small questions that are not, certainly not life and death. I mean, questions about where you have a director that wants me to grab a shot of somebody that doesn't know I'm filming them, you know, which is something that often I find to be unethical or difficult to question of how you edit something and whether the timeline is accurate and whether I'm kind of being fair to the reality. So when this happened, it felt like an opportunity to really take a look at the some of these ethical issues. And I move forward not knowing or not guarantee that I would finish the film or make a film.

Justin Schein: But knowing that it was something that I wanted to continue with, you know, also, there were a couple of conditions. One was that I didn't want to be the only person kind of burdened with this information, and Mayer told me that he had been in a dialogue with his physician about his desire to end his life. So the next thing that we planned was that I was I went and filmed a Mayer and his doctor talking about about his suicidal desire. Similarly, I filmed Mayer with with some other friends, even with his psychiatrist over the course of years, actually. So I didn't feel like I was kind of the sole caretaker that would have been kind of untenable. Also on top of that, his doctors and his friends felt like the film process was really positive for Mayer, that he was getting a certain affirmation and he was telling his stories and he was appreciated that they felt like the filming was good for him. You know, if I had been told otherwise, I would have stopped. But yes, the original question was about my wife. I mean, she was the first person I came home and I said, What are we going to do? What do I do about this? And I don't know if he's just seeking attention or I don't want to do anything that will encourage this because because I loved him and I wanted him to, to be alive and to be healthy.

Scott Lacy: So that is such a conundrum, both on a human level, but also on a filmmaking level. If I'm correct, you had to more aggressively insert yourself into the film for it to make sense and maybe even to be emotionally authentic. Was that something that shifted as you got deeper into that subject matter?

Justin Schein: Definitely. I mean, I had never made a first person film. I didn't have a desire to. Originally in making a portrait of Mayer to be a character. But it became clear once I decided to try to move forward that it was not just a story about Mayer and his history and his problems, but it was a story about our relationship and the difficulty both as a filmmaker but also as a friend in being in a situation where somebody that you love is in such kind of emotional pain. So yes, that was that was a big shift. You know, it's I think it's really hard to make a. It's a narrative film and make a first-person documentary that's, you know, compelling, and, you know, I find that even the best first-person documentaries kind of sometimes fall into these traps of that, and they're difficult to watch. They become indulgent in a way. So it was really a challenge in the editing to balance my voice and and Mayer's story. And, you know, I had a wonderful collaborator, Ed co director named David Melman, who. Really, you know, help me make the film he came on after most of the shooting happened and kind of had a certain perspective that I didn't have. Being so close to the material and to Mayer,

Scott Lacy: I'm curious about the mechanics of of filming a subject and that sort of scenario where you need to frame and compose, but you also need to be emotionally present to the person you're talking to. How did you tackle that challenge?

Justin Schein: Yeah. Well, you know, pretty. Early on, like I stepped into his small apartment, that was. Piled to the ceiling in places with with his hoarding, with his rubbish, it was clear that I wanted to make the film in an intimate way that I didn't want to have anybody else on the crew for the most part that I wanted to be kind of face to face with him and that at times the aesthetics of it, we're going to suffer for that. You know that I was going to needing to to look him in the eye in conversation, even when there were times when I was hand holding the camera that the framing would be off, that it was really kind of down and dirty, that the content was more important than the kind of the beauty of it. And that it's, you know, I guess there are people that that are skilled enough to make to find beauty, you know, aesthetic beauty kind of cinematic beauty in in that kind of story. But I know my limitations and I chose to at times forgo that. You know, obviously, we know as filmmakers that kind of sound is paramount. Even though it's often overlooked and that if you don't have a sound person and you're using a mic on your camera and a wireless mic that if somebody else is talking to your left, you're going to have to pan the camera in order to hear them, because that's where your microphone is. So you make sacrifices for content, or at least I do. So that's kind of the way it worked. And I think that the audience is is forgiving of those issues. And in some ways it only kind of adds to the veracity of the of the storytelling.

Scott Lacy: So let's talk a little bit more about Mayer's condition. I think what struck me about the film, the conflict, if you will, is that he makes such a lucid intellectual case for suicide that it's almost hard to fight him on it. Like as a human, you're like, No, you don't want to do that. You matter. We care about you. And yet he's clearly in possession of his senses, and that this is a very sophisticated rationale for not continuing to live. Did did you find that a little tricky, that that he was so again lucid and kind of describing why he needed to do that?

Justin Schein: Yeah, I mean, it was it was extremely tricky and difficult. You know, I didn't. Well, maybe I did try to convince him, but I mean, I tried to to be a friend to him to like so many friends that had come before me to be there for him to express my feeling that he had something it can have very valuable to offer the world. You know, I incorporated him into my family. He met my children. He he taught my oldest son how to like plant in his garden. But over the course of years, I saw this kind of ebb and flow of the depression that he had experienced all of his life, and there were times where he was really a different person and very much alive and looking forward. But, you know, much of the time he was had this dark cloud over him that was only exacerbated by his use of alcohol when he was younger. He was part of this movement against the war and, you know, he was very involved in in the social causes and. He became less and less interested. It's interesting during the filming there was Occupy Wall Street. It happened and I brought him down there and I thought he could be like a kind of grandfather figure. Talking about his, his history of activism. But. He saw the glass half empty and saw it, oh, this is this shows how there's a new generation and they don't need me.

Justin Schein: And you know, it's it's kind of poisonous for the old generation to come in and kind of tell the kids what to do. So, you know, it became it was really a learning experience for me about kind of the power of being a friend and being a witness. You know, Mayer, if if I asked, Mayer, how can I help you? He would have. Often he would have said, You know, I want you to help me to die. I mean, he knew that that wasn't feasible in my position of making the film. But I mean, that's how he felt. You know, the other thing is that the Yippies were so publicity minded. There are moments where he thought that me getting in trouble. He wanted me to film his actual death, and I told him very clearly that I wouldn't and that I didn't want him to die, and I certainly didn't want to be a party to that. But, you know, he had these fantasies of kind of being a figurehead for this, for the right to die movement. And I told him, You know, I respect your desires and but if you want to be. If you want to make a stand, that's for you to do, I'm not I don't have an agenda here. So there were moments where we locked horns on that.

Scott Lacy: Did you ever completely give up the idea that you might be able to either talk him out of this directly or indirectly through the course of the film?

Justin Schein: Well, that expression? Talk him out of it. I mean, there was no talking Mayer out of things. In fact, really, the other person that was kind of closest to Mayer that was his confidant about his desire to die was this legendary activist and journalist Paul Krasner. So Paul was one of those people that I spoke to regularly, and Paul was of the belief. I mean, Paul was close friends with Lenny Bruce. He came up with the name Yippies Paul. I believe that persuasion is the lowest form of violence. He felt that he can't talk somebody out of something that they really want to do. And I had expressed my feelings to Mayer and he knew them. And my hope was that he would choose to want to live. Spoiler alert. But you know, when Mayer decided that he was going to bring his cat is kind of, you know, closest living, being in his life to to Texas, to drop it off with a friend. And then he came back to New York and he was really alone. And he said, You know, tonight's going to be the night. Basically, he told me that in not so many words, it was my kind of fantasy that a day or two later, I would knock on his door and find him kind of, as he normally was like in his underwear with his bong and his beer watching cable news. So, yeah, that was always a fantasy. But you know, little by little, it became clear to me. I felt like I didn't have the power or the the moral power to make that decision. For him, that was something he had to do for himself.

Scott Lacy: He was such a voice of wisdom and experience. Do you think he'd never trusted that what he had to say still mattered in the modern world? Was it simply a matter of feeling irrelevant?

Justin Schein: I mean, I think it was about clinical depression, and he had a big ego and he felt that what he had to say mattered. But I think that the kind of the darkness and the kind of real. Sense of despair that comes with depression is a very powerful force. You know, and I have friends who have also experienced it, and most of them, I'm happy to say, have kind of found treatment that is effective. And now, since Mayer has died, you know, every once in a while, I hear about different treatments for depression, the use of psychoactive, you know, microdosing things like that. I wonder if that would have helped Mayer. So I think, you know, I think it's something that's less rational than whether he felt like his opinions or his. He had something to contribute and more kind of primal. And that has to do with mental illness.

Scott Lacy: Throughout all this, you still have your own life to lead and there's a scene with your wife where you can quite plainly see the strain that has entered your relationship in your home life. And I'm sure this is the kind of film that you brought home at night. Can you tell me a little bit about how this affected you during the course of the years of filming?

Justin Schein: Yeah. You know it did. It really affected me, you know? As a friend and as a filmmaker, I would have nightmares, I had nightmares that I that I would be arrested for murder and I've had nightmares since. And it was, you know, Mayer would call and I would feel like I had to take his call and sometimes that I had to go and be with him. And you know, he I mean, he was an addict, an alcoholic, and certainly there's a certain amount of manipulation involved with that. So I felt like I was in a pretty tough position both. I mean, even my wife was pretty clear that this needed to to end there needed to be an end, and I didn't know how to end it. I kind of felt like in this position where on one hand, the filming was keeping Mayer alive that it was a really kind of positive thing and that ending it could have a negative impact on his life. And I also feared that Mayer felt that the film had to have a dramatic ending that included his death, which I was very clear with him that I, you know, this film can have a happy ending. Please don't imagine that this has to go one way. But so I was kind of stuck in that position. But as my second son was born, it became clear that I needed to take a step back. And so I started to edit and with the idea of not knowing how the film was going to end, but that I needed to start winding it down.

Scott Lacy: I can't imagine the burden. I would imagine every time you took his call and couldn't go there to be with him that in the back of your mind, there was this maybe a worry that he would go deeper into despair and maybe kill himself earlier? Was that something you contended with a bit?

Justin Schein: I mean, I think that. You know, over time with somebody you see, as I said, the ebb and flow of of depression and, you know, I felt like I really was doing the best that I could as a friend knowing that there was, you know, no kind of magic solution. Also, I went into therapy, which was really helpful to kind of talk about some of these issues. You know, as part of the process of the film, I sought out kind of experts. I sought out somebody that taught ethics and journalism and filmed my conversation with him. I sought out medical ethicists talking about suicide. I sought out a lawyer about literally what are my legal responsibilities, you know, I mean, aiding and abetting a suicide is a felony in New York. So I needed to better understand those things. And you know, a little bit of that made it into the film. You know, we felt like more of that was not necessary, but it was also kind of a helpful process to me as a person and as a filmmaker trying to negotiate this difficult situation.

Scott Lacy: So tell me about the final trip to Texas. I believe it was Texas where Mayer is dropping his cat off with a friend. At this point, it's clear to everyone, including the viewer, what is eminent? What was the emotional tenor of that entire trip?

Justin Schein: It was very strange. I mean, you know, Mayer was visiting his old close friend and he was very happy to see his friend and happy to kind of know that his cat was going to be in a safe home. There was a certain sadness when Michael Ventura, who is this writer, journalist friend, kind of told me that, you know, Mayer is going to do this when he gets home. He told me as soon as he gets home, this is going to happen. That was shocking to me. But it was helpful to have Michael kind of share his thoughts about how really you can't save somebody who doesn't want to save themself and then to be honest with you, on the way home from Texas. I sensed a sense of relief from Mayer, a certain like unburdening, you know, he had talked over the years about not wanting to lose his will to die. You know that it's a very difficult thing to to do. I mean, I think Mayer knew well had been struggling with depression for years, had been hospitalized, had been medicated, had been in therapy and he was just felt like he didn't want to do it anymore. So there was a certain kind of lightness to him. When I look at that footage of, you know, I dropped him off at his doorstep and gave him a hug and told him I loved him. And then interestingly, he couldn't find his keys. And it occurred to me, Oh, maybe this is his way out of doing this.

Justin Schein: And you know, he looked at me and said, Do you have a set of keys? And I was like, Dude, I do not. And even if I did, I'm not unlocking your door. This is this is up to you. But, you know, we told each other that, you know, our love for each other. And I, you know, kind of let him go upstairs. And I told him that I was not going to, you know, if he called me, I was calling 9-1-1. And when I didn't hear from him a day later and his he wasn't picking up his phone, his friends and I decided to give him some time because we didn't want to show up and find him in some kind of coma. And we, you know, went to his house the day later and and actually found a very, very peaceful scene of Mayer. I was in some ways very relieved to be able to witness how peaceful he was, you know, on his bed with candles around him. And, you know, as a filmmaker, filming that scene was challenging because I didn't know what I was going to find. I didn't know how I wanted to. How I would portray what I found, so I had to kind of think. Aesthetically, I think legally, I had to think logistically and I think that, you know, having spent decades making films, I had the right amount of experience to deal with some of those questions that maybe earlier in my career, it would have been impossible to do.

Scott Lacy: I will tell you as a viewer, it was impossible not to have a huge lump in my throat and a pit in my stomach. I do think that scene you really nailed the balance between being a documentarian, being a human being, as a filmmaker, I think you really, you know, stuck the landing.

Justin Schein: Looking back, I don't have many regrets or I don't really have any regrets in terms of my relationship with Mayer and the filmmaking aspect of it. And that's, I think, very helpful kind of emotionally psychically, you know, not to say, Oh, I wish I had done this or that. I think I did the best that I could, and I think I was there for him. And, you know, showing the film kind of really around the world and getting feedback from people who had been in similar situations or who were in the midst of it and being kind of thanked for the sensitivity and the kind of sharing that difficult role of being a friend of somebody in so much pain, you know, was very gratifying. You know, there were a few instances where people accused me of death by documentary of somehow contributing to Mayer's death. But for the most part, those were people who hadn't seen the film, so I felt good about it. I decided that the film was going to be about this journey, this friendship, that it wasn't going to be an advocacy film, and there were, you know, really the opportunity from both sides of the issue. There was the kind of death with dignity, movement kind of suicide rights that is kind of growing in the United States, but is really well established in other places. And then there's the suicide prevention side of it and both. I feel very valid and important, but I didn't set out to make a film from one side or the other. It was really about the complexity of the issue and about the relationship. It may have behooved the film may have helped the film in its distribution and in its life. If I had made more of an advocacy film, but I just couldn't bring myself to do that

Scott Lacy: In the end. Strangely enough, I find that there's something beautiful about him, his life and his decision. There was some agency involved in him deciding how and when he was going to depart the Earth. I know the mental illness part muddies the picture a little bit, but do you feel like at the end that he was in possession of enough of his own personal agency to make that decision?

Justin Schein: I do. I mean, I do feel like that question and that power of life and death over oneself is the most basic human right. And while it's muddied by things like religion and you know, there's an interesting history of suicide and suicide laws that make it a criminal. There was a time where it was thought that if you took your life, you were kind of destroying property of the king. Hundreds of years ago. But yeah, I feel like, I mean, it's so difficult to say, but I do feel like Mayer had really thought about it. I felt that he was better off not being in such pain for the remainder of his life, and that he made that decision even in his lucid and, you know, non-depressed moments he he was able to think it through. But, you know, I also learned through the process of the film that that suicide is a very complicated issue, that there's no one answer, that there's a very different situation between a young person who's depressed that hasn't sought out mental health care and that there is definitely help and and medication and things that people can do. But then there's also people who are in pain, whether it's physical pain from illness or emotional pain, who are able to make rational decisions about whether they want to continue in that. So it's interesting and it's complicated.

Scott Lacy: So what were the emotions of going on the road with this film? Because the film rightly got a lot of praise. It's a marvelous film, and yet I'm sure there must be a complicated emotion of taking credit and praise for something that is so freighted with human emotion and sadness.

Justin Schein: Yeah. You know, my goal is to instigate a discussion. I feel he had a wonderful time showing the film and talking to people and sharing my experience and hearing other people's experiences, allowing the film to be used as kind of a teaching tool about some of these issues issues ranging from mental health to film ethics. I've done quite a bit of talking in film classes about some of the challenges and making these decisions. So it was great and it was interesting. I mean, interesting how different places had very different reactions to the issue of suicide in Europe, in Canada. They're much more progressive and open to some of these issues. They have, I think, spent more time thinking about them. And you know, there are definitely places in the United States where it's, you know, even talking about it is is taboo. And that's where people like me in the position of a friend who's trying to help somebody, you know, really suffers because they feel like they can't talk about it or they can't acknowledge the complexity of it. And so it was really gratifying kind of opening the the shades and letting some light in onto this subject. That is kind of a universal.

Scott Lacy: So it's been six years since you released the film and many more since you were making it. What has the film done to change your own views about life and death?

Justin Schein: That is an interesting question. You know, I mean, I can't answer that question without thinking about Mayer. And I think about him often, particularly as the American political scene has kind of really fractured even more than when he was alive. I don't know that that the film has changed my feelings about life and death. I think it's the act of making the film that really is life affirming for me, and that's why I make documentary films really is as much for the final product, but more for the for the experience of witnessing people's lives and sharing those lives kind of allowing. People to communicate in ways that, you know, with communities that they would never be able to speak to. So it has not changed my view of life and death. It maybe has changed my view of kind of the power of being a witness and kind of the nobility of being a witness. There's a lot of activist documentaries, and many of them I really respect in. Many of them make, you know, real impact. But I also think that there's a power in just being there, both as a filmmaker and as a as a loved one.

Scott Lacy: Have you noticed any changes in your your filmmaking, either in your choice of topics or in your approach to subjects?

Justin Schein: Well, I think that the latest film that I'm working on is also a first person film, and I think that there's no question that my experience making left on purpose kind of gave me the the courage to be able to explore that. It's a personal film about my relationship with my dad, which is kind of interesting because Mayer in some ways was the anti father for me. I mean, he was very different than my dad politically, but they shared a lot in common in their intelligence and their humor. So, yeah, I've decided to make another first person film this one a little more intentional. But we'll see where that leads.

Scott Lacy: I noted I went to your IMDb out of curiosity to see if this experience maybe change the arc of your topic selection, thinking maybe you went light and did a film about K-pop or something and realize that you've stuck to your guns. You're going after, like really deep, searing emotional topics. And I see you've got one in production and one you're filming. Can you talk a little bit about each one of those in more detail?

Justin Schein: Sure. Well, I mean, yeah, my wife is like, Can't you make a fun film? To be clear, I think that even that those difficult topics, you know, humor and lightness have to be included in it for it to be watchable and in film and editing the Mayer film left on purpose. We had to really balance the darkness and the light. So one film that I am working on is that film about about my dad who passed away called Death and Taxes. It's really about our relationship. For twenty five years, I I filmed often arguments with my dad about social justice, and we had very different opinions and I loved my dad dearly. But when he died, it became clear that I had this material and I was becoming a father myself and I wanted to explore social issues, the issues of income inequality and about the American dream kind of through our relationship. The other film that I had worked on shooting for years was about palliative care, which is really a kind of revolutionary way of looking at medicine that deals with quality of life and patients wishes kind of paramount to any specific treatment.

Justin Schein: And that also sprung from my from my personal relationship with my dad, who, when he went through his final year of life battling cancer, was lucky enough to have a wonderful doctor who was kind of a revolutionary thinker in palliative care. Through that experience, I decided to try to document. I spent a year filming at the palliative care unit at Mount Sinai, seeing how medicine often overlooks the wishes and the quality of life of the patient, really focusing on the technicalities of their diagnosis. And that palliative care not only extends the life of patients, but also reduces costs by not doing certain things that are really against the wishes of the patient. So yeah, that's a tough subject. I'm also very proud of the work I did shooting this documentary called Crip Camp that was on Netflix and was nominated for an Academy Award about the disability rights movement, which I think Mayer would have really enjoyed. Kind of an untold story about the disability rights movement.

Scott Lacy: Well, Justin, I want to thank you so much for taking the time. It really is a beautiful, memorable film, and it's something I'll reflect on for a long time. It's just one of those films, and you should be very proud for having made it.

Justin Schein: Thank you very much. It was fun talking to you and I appreciate your feelings about it.

Scott Lacy: Thanks to Justin Schein. His film "Left on Purpose" can be seen in a whole bunch of places: Tubi, YouTube, Google Play, Amazon Prime, Vudu and Apple TV. You've really got no excuse not to watch this one. It's everywhere. Join me next time when I talk to Elizabeth Lo. She worked the streets of Istanbul for months to capture the secret lives of stray dogs. See you then.