It was two years ago this month that I wrote the first draft of the screenplay… now two years later the film finally comes out nationwide. Some of my most vivid memories are those of my past film releases. Now my fourth film that I directed and wrote on the opioid epidemic in rural America “Shooting Heroin” (2020) releases tomorrow. And yet, this release is very unique and unlike the others — this release is from home without any red carpet or fanfare, but it is too serious of a message to delay.
I remember my first premiere for the movie I had filmed in high school when I was 17. It was before the digital revolution and I had to rent a massive digital projector for our historic single screen theatre in my hometown. All my high school mates were in attendance, friends, family, and familiar friendly faces from around town and it was such a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and awe to bring this fictional story to life and share it with my first audience. I can remember watching people’s reactions while they watched a world unfold that once only existed in my head. The power of cinema is unmatched still today.
If we were not in the midst of this global pandemic, today would have looked very different. We had planned a proper Hollywood premiere, with a nationwide theatrical release in the top major cities. I would have attended, with much of my cast and crew, a red carpet celebration of everyone’s hard work to bring this important story to life. There was a planned press tour around the nation including three different film festivals this week where our movie was officially selected and screening. This entire experience compared to past films and contrasted to what was planned could not be much different. And yet… the show must go on, and this story is too important to delay.
It’s interesting to release a movie online and on cable. The shared human experience is entirely missing. I won’t get to shake hands and thank everyone for coming to the theatre, I won’t be hugging my cast-mates celebrating their achievement, and there will be no observing stranger’s reactions to the story beats and waiting to hear if the audience clap… none of that. Instead I will be with my family in isolation while some of the available cast joins me on a live Zoom video “red carpet” watch party (4:30 est, April 3). This is an entirely different interaction, but I cannot help but be thankful that this release is still possible.
Had I tried to release a movie a decade ago many of the modern technologies (especially the ability to get our film nationwide online at the same time in the comfort and safety of audience’s homes) would have been impossible! It is ironic that in reflecting on my first film release I had to rent and setup a digital projector back in 2008. But today, my gracious cast and crew are all able to stay safe, share online about our joint accomplishment, and I have the ability to share this movie with audiences all in the same day (while remaining in the same place).
This is a strange new world during Covid-19, and though we may be confined to our own homes and some are dealing with severe loss and hardship… it is my firm belief that we all need stories right now and cinema more than ever before. “Shooting Heroin” is a film about a small town community that comes together to fight back against drugs. It is a story that is meant to give those suffering from the ongoing opioid epidemic hope. We all need hope, maybe today more than ever.
Unfortunately, despite all the efforts being done to stop the spread of Covid-19 the opioid crisis continues to ravage the heartland of America without losing pace. Something must be done, and our film is an answer to this ongoing epidemic. Thank you for watching — and see you at the digital theatres tomorrow for our national release!
Spencer T Folmar
Writer, Director of “Shooting Heroin”