Why in the world would I have committed myself to making this film? All who have been exposed to the benzodiazepine scourge know it is a painful, gut-wrenching subject. The depth of misery involved is mammoth. Is this what audiences want to see? Aren’t we already exposed to boundless suffering in the world? But I must argue in favor of the greater documentary purpose. When documentaries force their way into the public arena and consciousness, woe and affliction are sometimes diminished, even conquered. Good things can happen. A blinded culture might begin to wake up and see.
But I still have to question my personal risk: Should I be doing this? What will the personal cost be? Why choose to surround myself with all this wretchedness when I could be devoting my energy and time to something positive and joyful? Why not make an uplifting film about the father-son duo I met not so long ago who have nobly dedicated themselves to saving endangered wolves? Or perhaps I should be making an upbeat film about the resurgence of hand-made arts. I could cover all the amazing creativity going on in my home region of the Berkshires. Or what about that film about Rita Pavone? Will someone please make a film about Rita Pavone? Because my calling is elsewhere.
I must make this film, this film about the hell that benzodiazepines have wrought in every developed nation around the world. Most benzo survivors have a graphic tale of unforgiving intensity and horror to tell, and those stories will be told. But there is much more to say and territory to cover to raise awareness, to change a system, and to wake up a culture that has not been willing to hear the message. People, by their very nature, do not like change. And we are talking about the need for sea change in public perception and practice.
The fact is, we are making sweet progress with the film. In July, the crew travelled to Utah to film benzo warrior Jocelyn and her family. Upon completion of the shoot in Utah, DP Scott Shelley told me that As Prescribed is the kind of important film that inspires him he get up in the morning, head to location, and film. In July we filmed in Boston and had a chance to hear first-hand about plans for a benzodiazepine awareness symposium in Bend, Oregon, in 2017. And what a joy it was to spend an afternoon with family and friends of survivor/advocate Geraldine. They swapped stories about their witness to Geraldine’s nightmare benzo journey, as well as their knowledge of the drug’s dangers, at a gathering to celebrate her hard-fought freedom from the benzo beast.
I head home after a shoot like this, and I say to myself, “This is worth it. Boy oh boy, is this ever worth it!”
So we forge ahead. I’ll sometimes shut off, shut it out, take a break from the negativity and nonsense that creeps in more often than I would like. I will meditate, do yoga, not answer the phone. I’ll come out on the other side intact. Fairly intact, that is. I don’t want to kid myself. I’m in for it. And I’m ready.
Now, just breathe…
Feel free to get in touch!
Check out Jocelyn’s Benzo Bullied video on YouTube :
Benzo Bullied — you’re not crazy!