About the FilmMakers

J. T. Turner

Producer of Crazy Art

JT grew up in Britain, attending boarding schools prior to studying Social Anthropology at the LSE one of the colleges of London University.

He came to the US in the mid 1970s and worked as a sociology and anthropology teacher at the University of South Carolina. Returning to Europe in the late 1970s he got a masters in Social Anthropology at Cambridge University.

He began a career in mental health in 1979 in Colorado working as a counselor with teens in a residential treatment program. In the mid 1980s, he moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as a social worker with families, and then ran a residential treatment program for the homeless mentally ill. He earned a master's degree in Clinical Psychology from Fielding Graduate University. In the 1990s, he ran a day treatment and case management program for adults with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder before moving to Santa Barbara, California, to be executive director of Phoenix of Santa Barbara, starting in 1996. He continues in that role today. He became a licensed psychotherapist in 1998.

As a ceramicist and painter, JT forged links with other artists in the Santa Barbara community, including those diagnosed with some of the more severe psychiatric conditions. It was while connecting with these artists that he met the three individuals who would later be featured in the documentary, Crazy Art: Trinaty Wakefield, Rodger Casier and Lesley Grogan. In 2008, strongly influenced by Simon Schama's BBC biographical series on the Power of Art, JT developed the vision of a film about how art and madness connect. He approached Trinaty, Rodger and Lesley, and they were up for the project! He considered several directors, and settled on Justin Rowe, whose talents fitted well with the project.

He says, "Crazy Art is about how art can help you transcend madness. I wanted to also look at van Gogh in the film, because art can sometimes do the opposite – if you do it to an extreme degree, it can induce madness."

He has been impressed by the film's reception, "Some of the most experienced clinicians in the mental health system, and well-seasoned family members of those with mental illness have said the documentary provides an unparalleled level of understanding about psychiatric struggles. That's gratifying."