A young attorney’s life is disrupted by a massive stroke with lingering effects of two speech disorders as he struggles to overcome permanent disabilities, forcing him to reinvent himself with phonomotor treatments.

“If all of my possessions were taken from me, with one exception, I would choose to keep the power of speech, for by it, I would soon regain all the rest,” says a prominent statesman. Significant communication is not only to our livelihood but to our survival as a whole. It requires a vast repertoire of skills in intra-personal and inter-personal processing, listening, observing, speaking, questioning, analyzing, and evaluating. How do you reinvent yourself when your brain won’t cooperate to create the language needed in everyday expression? Although there is no magic pill for the brain, Coleman Watson sets out on a quest to learn from other aphasia and apraxia survivors and discovers the “ingredients” he needs for his placebo. Hopeful, and forward facing, the story ends posing the question many people with disabilities grapple with: when is healing enough and what can you live with?

  • Coleman Watson
  • Coleman Watson
  • Coleman Watson
  • Coleman Watson
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    2 hours 4 minutes 44 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 15, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    8,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Coleman Watson

Coleman Watson never thought he would be a filmmaker or an artist; sometimes life calls you on a bigger mission, though. Before film, he was an intellectual property attorney who litigated more than 200 patent, trademark, and copyright cases over 12 years in the U.S, including a petition for a writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court. Coleman is an engineer by training, and after receiving his undergraduate degree from Georgia Tech, he attended New York Law School. Prior to launching his own law firm, Coleman worked for a major U.S. national law firm ranked on the Am 100. He was on track, eventually, to be a federal judge.

In spite of this, at 41, he had a sudden stroke with no warning signs and he lost his budding career. He was then diagnosed with aphasia and apraxia, two speech disorders. He literally went from arguing high-stakes cases in federal court one day, to being unable to understand speech, reading, and writing the next day. Following his diagnosis, he started project-based speech therapy that culminated in his own self-made documentary, păh, on speechism and the disability experience. Coleman aims to make more films on the underrepresented that capture the unwavering human spirit.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

I directed this film, păh, after I had a massive stroke in 2020 that left me with aphasia and apraxia, two speech disorders. My stroke stripped my language, and was unable to talk, read, and write for several years. When I started speech therapy, the first “word” that I could pronounce with my mouth was păh. Since I could not read at the time, I wanted to watch a documentary on these speech disorders, however, there were none. Aphasia and apraxia make you feel like you are a prisoner, but the cell is your body, and you feel totally alone. This was my motivation for păh because no one can help you when you have aphasia and apraxia. You are alone and have to find another way to communicate again. I learned filmmaking so I could direct, produce, and edit păh to tell the story. That was my new communication tool. I was a crew of one: me. I used black and white footage about every 15 minutes, to take the viewer back to my life when I was “dying” because the old me died from my stroke, while the color footage is my metamorphosis. The film is set on a cross-country trek in the U.S. where I interview people who have been affected from aphasia and apraxia too. Through stops, I discover that even though there is no “cure” for aphasia and apraxia, I can (and do) make my own placebo for my brain healing with 8 ingredients.