‘Crownsville Hospital: From Lunacy to Legacy’: A must-see documentary
Todd Stevens’s new feature length documentary, Crownsville Hospital: From Lunacy to Legacy, explores the history of the now shutdown Maryland institution – the Crownsville State Mental Hospital. Stevens was inspired to create the documentary when he moved-in just a couple miles away in 2006, just two years after the facility was closed. After driving past the hospital for months Stevens’s curiosity won him over & he began the journey of making Crownsville Hospital: From Lunacy to Legacy.
The film draws inspiration from other documentary works such as The Thin Blue Line & Night and Fog. Stevens’s movie uses archival footage, animation, and original music in order to tell the chilling story of the Crownsville State Mental Hospital. The film also shows the state of the facility today – a now dilapidated & abandoned set of buildings which appear to be in pretty horrific shape according to the film’s trailer.
However, Stevens was unable to enter the facility itself. Instead, he found himself being chased off by security. “I have to have one eye on the lens and one eye on the guards,” he said describing the situation.
The film delves into the appalling and disturbing history of the hospital. From its long history of segregation – the hospital was originally founded in 1911 – to the over medication of patients to the fact some of the patients who are still alive report having extensive brain damage now.
In order to understand the full 96 year history of the Crownsville Mental Hospital Stevens interviewed as many people as he could. He spoke with historians, former employees of the hospital, and even former patients in order to create as detailed of an understanding as possible. With Stevens’s dedication he says the hour long film could have easily been turned into an eight hour miniseries because of how much information and footage he collected.
The director, R. Todd Stevens, was born in Germany in 1963. He is both a filmmaker and an accomplished photographer. He has had exhibits in Baltimore, Annapolis, and Granville, Ohio. Stevens utilizes his inquisitive nature, and a love for people & life to help guide him in the filmmaking process and brings a perspective which searches for beauty & truth in his artistic endeavors.
Stevens’s philosophy on filmmaking is that “knowing how to properly light, frame, and focus a scene is the first step. The ‘magic’ happens after that.”
When R. Todd Stevens isn’t creating films or enjoying photography, he works as a creative services manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
In regard to Crownsville Hospital: From Lunacy to Legacy Stevens said, “Five years of my life went into this project and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Fifty interviews later, I am ready to share the end result with the world. This is truly the first film of its kind on the subject and I am very proud.”