Sanford News Article
By Shawn Sullivan
Actresses Eve Kruger, left, and Angela Surels, are seen here in a scene “For A Price”, originally titled, “Just One Pill”, which is the Sanford High School’s Film Club’s movie. An early cut of the film was shown at Smitty’s Cinema on May 31. COURTESY PHOTO.
Sanford Police Chief Thomas Connolly and others often say that the opioid crisis is complex and that the solution is not just to have law enforcement arrest its way through the problem. They correctly assert that many approaches, such as treatment for the addicted, are necessary.
Strategies for a Stronger Sanford knows this. So, too, do the young cast and crew of the Sanford High School Film Club. The club has a new film, “For a Price,” that portrays the slippery slope in which one descends when one thinks that “just one pill” won’t lead to another and send them down a path toward self destruction.
“Just One Pill.” That was the original title of the students’ film, the “fine cut” of which premiered at Smitty’s Cinemas during an event that Strategies sponsored on Wednesday, May 31. This week, James Harmon, the club’s adviser, said that the students changed the name of their movie to “For a Price.”
For a price, indeed. The movie, which will have its official, final-cut premiere at the Sanford International Film Festival this October, shows the toll that using drugs takes on two high school students: the one who is using, and the one who is sometimes intentionally and other times unwittingly supplying. Anglea Surels plays Charlie, the girl who pops just one pill at first to keep up with her studies and then finds herself taking many more; she spirals into addiction and thievery. Eve Kruger, who co-wrote the script with Sanford High graduate Sara Champagne, plays Paula, the friend who offers that first pill and comes to regret that gateway moment.
“It’s always very exciting to see something you wrote come to life on the screen,” said Champagne, who also wrote “Besties,” the SHS Film Club’s thriller from last year.
Students, parents, advocates and such school officials as Superintendent of Schools David Theoharides and Assistant Superintendent Matt Nelson attended last week’s showing on the silver screen.
Theoharides spoke to the audience before the cinema’s lights dimmed for the movie. He noted that he and Nelson often have to deal with the issue of local students who violate the law and the school department’s drug policy, particularly in light of the confusion about legality that has followed last November’s vote to approve recreational marijuana in Maine.
“It scares me,” Theoharides said. “I’m concerned that students are on the path to addiction at an early age.”
Theoharides applauded the film students for making their movie and for “starting the conversation” about drug use and addiction in the community.
Be sure to catch the movie at the film festival — SIFF4, as it is breezily billed — this fall. Its message is important, especially to our community, which has proven no exception to the opioid crisis that has gripped Maine and beyond. The script makes smart choices too, most notably in its restraint and avoidance of many cliches that seem to plague films about addiction. There is some winning cinematography too, by Jacob Poletta, particularly during a sequence in which footage of an agitated Charlie prowling the streets is superimposed on scenes of her breaking into cars and seeking cash for her next fix. Andrew Perry’s music in the film is memorable, as well.
“I thought it came out really nicely, and I’m proud of the job the film club did with it,” Champagne told the audience during a Q&A session after the screening.
Lynne Hatch, a certified alcohol and drug counselor, is the coordinator of Strategies for a Stronger Sanford’s Drug-Free Communities Support Program. She attended last week’s screening and spoke to the audience about the need for heightened awareness and involvement in the community in the fight against substance abuse. She screened two immensely affecting interviews she conducted with recovering drug users.
She also showed the audience two public service announcements that the SHS Film Club made. In one of them, a substance abuser is visited by her younger self and is judged for the choices she is making. In another, parents are seen at a cookout, drinking freely in front of their child. The ad ends by stating that when parents abuse alcohol in front of their kids, they’re having a consequential conversation with them without even knowing it. Chilling and effective.
To learn more about Strategies for a Stronger Sanford, visit online at www.strongersanford.org. To keep up with the Sanford High School Film Club, please visit its Facebook page of the same name.
Several members of the audience praised the film club’s movie and the students’ efforts. One viewer, in particular, offered a comment that provides a strong note on which to end here because it brings this column back to the beginning — to its shared assertion that many approaches are needed to confront the opioid crisis and end so much suffering.
“You did a wonderful job,” the viewer told the young filmmakers. “Parents and children need to see this movie together.”
Shawn P. Sullivan is the editor of the Sanford News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.