Wrestling with Obsessive Thoughts About Everyday Encounters - a short film by Glenn Holsten

Wrestling with Obsessive Thoughts About Everyday Encounters


Mike Veny is a powerful mental health speaker and a fantastic drummer. I’m also happy to report that he’s an adventurous partner in filmmaking.

I wanted to take people on a journey. A real journey about what it’s like to feel what I feel, be inside my head. It’s one thing to share a story, and I share a lot of those, but I wanted to do my best to have the audience experience it with me. It was pretty intense. We took some risks. It actually got me to express a lot that was going on in my mind. I’m grateful for it.” — Mike Veny

I’ve been an admirer of Mike’s brave and bold investigations into issues surrounding mental health and masculinity, a necessary conversation that happens all too rarely in our culture. For this project, I worked with him to design a video that would explore a corner of his lived experience to show how an everyday encounter with a stranger on the street can morph into a paralyzing prison-like mental trap of repetitive, obsessive thoughts.


I have to expose my pain, my insecurities, my flaws. That’s not easy. But what it does is it connects me with others. It teaches me about myself. When I become this vulnerable, I learn so much. If you’re willing to take that uncomfortable step and open yourself up, you might just learn something.” — Mike Veny

His is a particularly interesting dilemma – as a motivational speaker, Mike shares his experiences in hopes of helping others find help and peace. All the while, however, he’s constantly wrestling with his own issues, questioning his motivations and confronting the ghosts of his past. Surely a work in progress, as we all are.


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Mike has found group therapy to be a helpful place to work out the layers of meaning behind his difficult experience. While the group therapy session in this video was staged, I’m convinced that there were times when Mike forgot we were filming, and benefited from the opportunity to share his story with a group of eager listeners.

I’ve learned the hard way that, when I keep things inside, it’s the worst thing. I’ve heard this phrase for many years that, “You’re only as sick as your secrets. I’ve got a lot of secrets, a lot of things I don’t share. Sharing it is that one step that I need to take towards recovery. Towards getting better. Towards happiness. It was really important for me to share it.” — Mike Veny

I am grateful to Mike for his willingness to “go there” emotionally in the hopes of helping himself and others. I am excited to present this film that may provide viewers with insight and understanding into their own complex journeys in life.

EDITOR IN CHIEF / EDITOR: Gabriel Nathan | DESIGN: Leah Alexandra Goldstein | PUBLISHER: Bud Clayman

Glenn is an award-winning director who loves to create compelling documentary story experiences of all lengths for screens of all sizes. He is an avid reader, studied literature in college, and his passion for stories with strong characters and interesting narratives stems from those years. His career as a visual storyteller began at WHYY (the public television station in Philadelphia) where he worked for 15 years before becoming an independent filmmaker. In addition to his PBS documentaries about arts and culture, he has directed films about justice and human rights, and now, mental health. He was emboldened to undertake his current documentary project, Hollywood Beauty Salon, a colorful feature-length documentary about surviving mental illness and finding the courage for recovery, after his transformative experience directing OC87: The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger’s Movie, along with Bud Clayman and Scott Johnston.