It's unbelievable when I take a moment to reflect on all that benzodiazepines both took from me and gave me. To say that no good came out of an absolutely terrible situation wouldn't be fair. It would have helped so much more during my time of suffering had I even seen what good could come out of it.
I suppose that's where faith comes in.
I did have a nagging faith underneath all the suffering, something poking me, trying to remind me that there is a great opportunity for self-growth and self-transfiguration in all of this. That after a forest fire, the ground is primed for an even healthier and luscious regrowth. At the time, we can't see it, and it just seems like an unfair fire.
Here I sit, ten years removed from benzos, fully healed (and then some), working on the final edits of my first feature film, and it's on the topic of benzo withdrawal. In a way, giving testimony to my own story and many like-minded ones in the hopes that I may be able to awaken some of the oblivious people around us. I wanted to create a film that we could watch with our friends, family, or spouse, and upon completion, would leave them feeling a bit more aware and compassionate.
Film has the amazing potential to bring people into a new world. It gives a very real and personal impression. I think in Lake of Fire, we will have accomplished that part of the mission.
This film took over a year to shoot, with many hurdles (I.e., COVID, pregnancy, sicknesses, scheduling issues, etc.). We shot the film in several locations and worked with some amazing actors. These were people who were intimately involved in the film and the cause. Which really only made it all the more special. This wasn't another film job. It was a mission! And everyone understood the assignment.
It was a challenge in writing and film to present the fullest story of the benzo withdrawal and recovery experience, but we needed just the right temperature. We didn't want to make the film too scary and show too much of the darkness in Benzos, or else it may seem a bit horrific and triggering. On the other hand, we couldn't make it too sweet and simple either. We needed just the right balance in all of the ingredients, and I think we accomplished that.
There were many moments when our lead actress would do an emotional scene, which she would deliver with flying colors, and upon yelling, "cut," we'd run over to comfort her. She was on an emotional rollercoaster, and being a great actress, she really became the character. This often worried me for her. What a brave woman to take on a role like this and give so much of herself, to almost willingly put herself in Benzo withdrawal. Of course, she wasn't really in withdrawal, but she became the character, and in those moments, I believe she came close to feeling some of that suffering.
We shot for long days, sometimes 12 hours or more, and we lived in this bubble of benzo withdrawal and mental illness. Much of the film we actually shot in order of sequence, which gave us all the more feeling of immersing ourselves into this story. By the end of the film, we felt like we had all lived through this rollercoaster of emotions.
People were passionate about every detail of this film.
I recall me and the lead actress, Sarah, getting into it pretty heavily on set one day over the direction of something in the film. And while as a director and writer, it initially bothered me. I also smiled because I was so impressed that she was so passionate about the project even those emotions. I welcomed it. Ultimately, she and I found some middle ground, making the film even better.
But the film wasn't always so serious and intense. There was so much laughter and playfulness on the set.
However, when the red light was on the camera, and it was time to work, it was all like a well-oiled machine.
We are now in the last stages of post-production, and I will finally be able to share this film with all of you very soon. I'm hoping to have it out before Thanksgiving. I'll be sharing more on this project and possibly sharing some more behind-the-scenes stuff as we get closer to the premier. We will be doing a watch party via the Benzo Recovery School in the coming months.
See you all there!