The Hollywood Beauty Salon is a tiny beauty parlor tucked inside the Germantown Recovery Community, a non-profit mental health facility in Northwest Philadelphia, which is a program of NHS Human Services. The salon is not open to the public, but serves a small clientele in profound ways. Men and women undergoing treatment for mental illness gather here to have their hair done, share stories, and support each other as they rebuild their lives.
The Recovery Model
The Germantown Recovery Community is a community-integrated recovery center that serves persons with behavioral health and addiction challenges. The film presents to a national audience NHS Human Services’ successful execution of a model of mental health care—unique to the city of Philadelphia—that combines both treatment and rehabilitation services that are individualized, choice-based, consumer-driven, family-inclusive and community-based.
Currently in production, Hollywood Beauty Salon is also a feature-length documentary that tells the story of the salon—and its clients’ journeys of recovery—in imaginative ways. Documentary filmmaker Glenn Holsten is partnering with members of The Germantown Recovery Community (part of NHS Human Services) to produce a film that weaves together powerful narratives of transformation. Hollywood Beauty Salon tells stories of struggle from darkness—including mental health challenges, addiction, trauma, and abuse—to hope and light, revealing the strength of this special community.
Director Glenn Holsten conducted a 16-week workshop series at the Hollywood Beauty Salon, which created the foundation for the documentary script. Holsten and a film crew collaborated with 8–12 women and men who patronize and/or volunteer at the salon to develop individual stories centered around the special Hollywood Beauty experience. Participants discussed the depths of their illnesses and their paths to recovery. They tapped into joyful and painful memories alike—and explored their hopes and dreams for the future.
The final script that emerged from this workshop process is a new kind of documentary—a hybrid that artfully combines real life “vérité” (fly on the wall) sequences of everyday life in the beauty parlor with highly crafted filmic sequences employing animation, fantasy, and dramatic reenactment. The film’s subjects decided how their personal histories should be documented and shared; each designed the storytelling approach of his/her section of the film.
We’re inspired by the literary tradition of magical realism—moments of fancy that delve deep into the psyche of a person and reveal truths about her journey. These individual stories will take many forms, creating visually rich and engaging “entry points” for a general audience to understand and empathize with the film’s storytellers. For example, Sanetta will tell her story of recovery through animation, showing her transformation from a woman struggling with hallucinations and the scars of schizophrenia into the lovely person she is today: Butterfly. Rachel will re-enact pivotal, dramatic moments of her life. Darlene will speak to a younger version of herself, portrayed by an actress.
While the stories will take us into the individual lives and to a variety of emotional landscapes, the film always returns to its home base—the Hollywood Beauty Salon.
With a rich tradition spanning more than 40 years, NHS Human Services has always been in the forefront of providing care and services to people with special needs. NHS, through its subsidiaries, it the largest community-based, nonprofit human services organization in the country. Today, over 10,500 staff provide care to 50,000 adults and children throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Louisiana.
NHS has developed a unique continuum of care providing services in the areas of mental health, addictive diseases, education, juvenile justice, foster care and permanency, autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities and specialized programs for seniors and people with traumatic brain injuries. The work of NHS is anchored in the firm belief that it is every individual’s right to achieve growth, dignity, and fulfillment in their lives. For more information please visit www.nhsonline.org.