Thursday, December 01, 2005
"Prescription: Suicide?" is a feature documentary I edited and produced with Director Robert Manciero exploring the misuse of anti-depressant drugs on kids and teens. The project took us across the country as we visited with six families impacted by the experience. You can find out more about the film itself at www.prescriptionsuicide.com.
We began shooting the film in April, 2005, and premiered the film at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival in November.
The experience of creating the film was emotionally intense. Three of the kids we profiled committed suicide while using anti-depressants; the three others attempted suicide. Bob and I entered the lives of these children and their families with two objectives: to not only tell the story of how the kids died or nearly died, but who they were as unique human beings. The experience of looking through the photos, movies, belongings, artwork and writings of kids who were no longer alive underscored for us the tragedy of what was lost. We learned as much about them as we possibly could without having known them. The three survivors also allowed us into the darkest period of their lives with a degree of trust that was extraordinary. 18 year-old Jason Atwood allowed us to review his highly personal journals dating back to when he was ten years old. The Downing family trusted us to review all of their late daughter Candace's belongings, videos and photographs, and brought together her friends to tell us how she really was. Though it was sometimes painful, every family provided everything they could.
Creating a documentary like this is all about trust and responsibility. Going into the project, we understood the gravity and potential importance of what we were about to do. Once we met the families, the obligation of not letting them down became just as important. For me, that's a large part of what documentary filmmaking is all about.