Short Film Profile
Image from Guru
Copyright © 2011 Jonathan Vanballenberghe


Peter is a charismatic motivational speaker who privately battles bipolar disorder. On stage in front of hundreds of people, he has boundless energy. He makes people laugh. He’s a professional life-skills guru.  In his private life, he struggles with chronic depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. These two very different sides of Peter and the ways they collide form the subject of this unique character study that was filmed over five years.

Film notes

Why would a quiet, polite person spend five years of his life following around a loud, aggressive, eccentric motivational speaker?  I still have trouble answering that myself.  Piston Pumpin’ Peter Scott, as he’s known by his clients, hired me in 2004 to make him a promotional video.  I went with him to one of his pyrotechnics-filled guest service rallies at a casino in New Mexico.  He’d talked me through the event beforehand, but nothing he said prepared me for the enormous scale of the energy and charisma that he expressed on stage.  He swallowed fire, ran at full speed (not easy for a man of 250 pounds), danced, joked, and dazzled his audience.  It was quite a contrast with the mellow Peter Scott I’d met in my office back in Tucson, Arizona. 

In Guru I tried to answer my own questions about Pete.  He’s chronically depressed and dysfunctional, but he makes a living offering advice about dignity and excellence.  Does that make him a hypocrite?  Is his life a wreck because he has bipolar disorder, or is his illness an excuse for bad habits?  Does his disastrous life have more to teach us -- by bad example -- than the “life lessons” expressed in his leadership seminars? The answers are equally funny and tragic. After watching my documentary you’ll either sprint away from the next motivational speaker you see or run toward him and give him an understanding hug.
mental illness profile portrait





Copyright © 2011 Jonathan Vanballenberghe

Awards and nominations

Special Jury Mention - Documentary
20 Apr – 1 May | United States

Previous screenings

20 Apr – 1 May | New York, United States
Special Jury Mention - Documentary

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Information on this profile is provided by the film owners and/or compiled from available sources | Profile updated 6 Dec 2012