16 AMERICAN BLUES THEATER A FILMMAKER’S ACCOUNT OF TED PATRICK “THE FATHER OF DEPROGRAMMING” VICE: What was it about your stepbrother's experience that made you decide you had to make a film about deprogramming and Ted Patrick? Mia: I guess me and Matthew were both about 14 when he was deprogrammed. If you can imagine, you're 14 and this is going on—I thought my mom and her boyfriend were crazy. It just seemed really surreal. I didn't really understand what was going on. I didn't know if [Matthew] was in a cult or not. He was a heavy metal kid. There were rumors at school that him and his friends were sacrificing cats. The whole thing was just very bizarre. The most bizarre thing was meeting Ted after the deprogramming. I still didn't really understand what this all meant then. But then Ted came home and they wanted to rid the whole house of any Satanic triggers, so he took away a lot of my books and records, but in a really dumb— like in a way that I remember thinking this made it even more ridiculous. They took away my INXS album, because there was a song called, "Devil Inside." Things like that. It just always stuck with me all these years, this whole phenomenon. How did you get Ted to agree to the film? And then, what was it like spending time with him? Matthew's [second] cousin was deprogrammed very successfully by Ted in the mid-'70s. [He was in] a Hare Krishna cult...So two of his second-cousins ended up working for Ted for about a decade on all these Canadian deprogrammings. So I had that sort of in. That really helped, because [Ted] doesn't remember Matthew. His estimation is that he deprogrammed about 3,500 people, which I think is kind of crazy. I don't know if that's possible, but maybe indirectly, because at the peak of his career he had a lot of people working for him. Anyways, it started off just like, "Okay, I'm going to go and meet Ted in San Diego, I'm not sure what's going to happen." And I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about him. But right away, he's just very gentle. He's also 85 now so he's at a very different stage in his life. I just feel that he was the first person to recognize there was something happening with a lot of these radical groups and to recognize there was a potential danger there, but I don't think he understood how to assess groups later on. Like, Matthew was hanging out with a bunch of high school kids and listening to Slayer, definitely dabbling with drugs and some violent behavior, but there wasn't really like a charismatic leader in that sense. It wasn't like a cult in that way. But I think Ted just believed he could help. I think he really thinks he can help. But in the early days, I think, [Ted] did have some success with Bible-based groups. Because he knows the Bible inside out. The first cases, it was usually [The] Children of God, and he would just expose how these leaders twisted Bible scripture. But then all these different alternative religions appeared, people adopted different lifestyles... Yeah, it's like, how do you asses when a group is actually potentially dangerous or if it's just like something different? Exactly. One of the questions your film asks is who has the right to determine what constitutes personal expression and what constitutes undue influence? Do Filmmaker Mia Donovan's stepbrother, Matthew, was deprogrammed at the age of 14. It was the early 1990s, Satanic Panic had spread across North America, and Matthew's father was worried that his son was involved in Satanism. So he hired famed deprogrammer Ted Patrick to reverse-brainwash Matthew—to free his mind from the grip of an alleged cult. The below is a 2015 interview with Mia—whose documentary, Deprogrammed, is about Ted Patrick—conducted by Regan Reid at VICE. It has been edited here for length. Ted Patrick in a deprogramming session with a Children of God member