The 2014 documentary "Hotline," which is available on VOD and is coming out on DVD in early 2015, awesomely explores the world of people who either make their living or volunteer their time conversing on the telephone with individuals with a strong need to reach out and touch someone. The gamut of such services that the film covers runs from a homework help services to phone-sex operations.
The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of a promo. for a (presumably successful) Kickstarter campaign nicely conveys the scope and number of the titular services and provides a brief introduction to some "cast" members.
One spoiler regarding this production that meets the dual goals of a documentary to inform and entertain is that it conveys related oft-forgotten messages in our fast-paced and short-attention span modern society; speaking with someone on the telephone and taking the time to fully hear him or her is as important today as it ever has been.
As a former suicide hotline volunteer, Brooklyn filmmaker Tony Shaff knows of what he speaks in "Hotline." His profiles of the individuals listed below and the other participants in the film clearly communicate that a strong need exists to get what no one at home is providing it be it compassion, assurance about a better life, or sexual gratification. Shaff further shows that the human element is an important part of the communication that is being sought to meet one or more of the aforementioned needs.
The featured individuals include phone and in-person therapist Jamie Blaine who shares that his history of rushing off in the middle of the night to provide aid has prompted a comparison to Batman, Brad Becker who is a pioneer of LGBT hotlines, Jeff "one Lonely Guy" Ragsdale who volunteers himself as a sympathetic ear, famed psychic Ms. Cleo, and a couple of phone sex operators.
Ragsdale deserves special notice because he apparently is an average Joe who simply recognizes that he is far from being the only guy or gal out there who often does not get the friendly interaction that all of us need. It seems that he started by posting his cell number and offer to talk on telephone poles and still operates on a solo (and completely free) basis.
The audience gets to see the smooth operators in action, hear war stories, and learn of the true passion that each holds for his or her work. We also get a sense of the incredible tolerance that absorbing all the pain or general discontent that comes through the phone line requires.
Much of the humor comes from hearing Ms. Cleo talk about her evolution from an anonymous phone-line employee to the star that she is today. Seeing the phone-sex operators ply their trade and discuss their adopted personas provides additional entertainment. One spoiler regarding this is that none of these segments is even remotely arousing.
Related appeal of "Hotline" is enhancing the aforementioned human element of the voice communications that can be very important at 2:00 a.m. or anytime during the holidays in which you are excluded from the reindeer games in which most people participate. Seeing a kind and caring face behind the understanding and compassionate voice is a real treat.
Unreal TV does not have a telephone number for questions or comments regarding "Hotline" but invites folks to communicate via the less personal means of email; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.