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WATCH: Local Moms' Anti-Drug Documentaries Headed to Newport Film Fest

Three Laguna Niguel mothers set out to spread the word about the prescription drug epidemic in their films "Overtaken" and "Behind the Orange Curtain." Both will be shown at the prestigious festival April 28 and May 3.

A mother’s love never wavers, even in death.

Laguna Niguel mothers , and know this all too well. Over the past year, they have tried to bring attention to a growing local epidemic of , and they have been successful via their two documentary films on the subject. Click here to watch the Overtaken trailer and click here to watch Behind the Orange Curtain trailer.

Both films will be screened at the prestigious Newport Beach Film Festival this month.

Overtaken takes "a look at the battle of addiction through the eyes of those whose lives have been overtaken by drug abuse."

Behind the Orange Curtain is "an in-depth look at the epidemic of prescription drug addiction plaguing teens and adults throughout Orange County and its heartbreakingly personal consequences as families are being shattered by something legal, available, and as close as their medicine cabinets."

Laguna Niguel Patch has written about both films, and interviewed the moms. We caught up with them again to learn about what’s new and what movie-goers can expect when the festival plays April 26-May 3.

Overtaken a Success

Barber and Brant’s film Overtaken may be seen April 28 at noon. Soon after, it will be shown on Cox Channel 3. 

“I feel grateful that Overtaken was accepted at the Newport Beach Film Festival and moving forward it will be shown to people across the nation. This could possibly mean it will be accepted into more schools,” said Barber whose son, Jarrod, 19, died in 2010 of a prescription drug overdose. “I never in my wildest dreams thought that us two moms, Christine Brant and I, whose idea to bring forth the epidemic through a documentary with a low dollar budget, would inspire so many.”

Overtaken was made for both intermediate and high schools, as well as anywhere else needed, she said. Along with a three-page lesson plan, it is part of the curriculum in health classes. It is now in colleges, DUI classes, rehabs, sober living, detention centers and jails across the nation.

“We are happy with the results, thus far. Awareness and education is key,” she said.   

As for the future of the film, Barber said the women have edited and updated it to a newer version.

“We have been asked to make a shorter version, specifically for doctors. They need to be educated as well, as to what their patients are using and their patients’ background, before prescribing meds. We made a trailer for movie theaters. Christine and I, along with the guest speakers are keeping very busy doing presentations in schools. We would also like to see it in more churches.” 

In the time that it has been out, Barber said Overtaken has helped educate parents in many ways.

“Most parents still have never heard of the opiate called, 'Oxymorphone,' better known as 'Opana.' This is a painkiller used for terminal cancer and dirty doctors are prescribing it. It's a hundred times worse than OxyContin. Like my son, many have died after abusing the pill. In the film, Dr. Winokur describes exactly how it's done. This is very important for parents to see. Also, in the film, parents will see that the young adults were maybe just like their own child. Good looking, smart, 'A' students, football players.

"Parents cannot be immune to the fact; that it won't happen to their kid. They will see just out how addicting the pills are. Also, they learn that marijuana is in fact a gateway drug. Parents, who smoke weed themselves, need to wake up!”

Also as a result of getting the word out, Barber said more and more parents are aware of the growing problem, thanks to the film. 

“Their kids are coming home from school and talking about Overtaken. This has opened up the communication between parents and their kids, but so much more is needed. Instead of jewelry parties, parents are now throwing 'pizza parties!' Their middle school child invites his or her friends, and their parents for pizza, and then they watch Overtaken and discuss it.” 

Behind the Orange Curtain

Costa, too, has been a driving force in getting the message about prescription drug overdose out to the masses via her film Behind the Orange Curtain. And while she has not had a child die because of a drug overdose, she knows many parents and friends who have.

Behind the Orange Curtain will be shown at the Newport Beach Film Festival on May 3 at 8:30 p.m. at The Big Newport. The first two screenings have already sold out. The powerful film has also been accepted in the Stony Brook Film Festival from July 19-28 in Stony Hill, N.Y.  

“It is an honor to be accepted at the Newport Beach Film Festival it is such a well respected venue to have your film presented and screened. It is especially gratifying because we are in our home court. Behind The Orange Curtain is about the dirty little secret of prescription drug abuse and deaths in this county, and we now have the chance to get the word out to our community that we are facing a devastating epidemic,” Costa said.  

Like Barber, she never thought the film would take off so quickly, but she is thrilled that it has.

“We set off planning to create awareness to the drug abuse problem in Orange County," she said. "Watching parents bare their souls and re-live the loss of their child just so others can know the dangers is remarkable. They are willing to tell their story over and over again with the hope that parents will understand the problem that we are facing in Orange County and across America.”   

In terms of the future of the film Costa said a second part is not in the works but there are further plans for its message.

“I think the film will stand on its own for quite some time. The message as it is timeless. We plan on submitting to additional festivals throughout the U.S. and we will be airing it on PBS in the near future,” she said. 

Her film like Overtaken has also made an impact on many parents and communities.

“The sweet spot for addiction is between the ages of 12 and 15. My goal is to inform the parents of younger children that this is a very real problem. Most parents are shocked when they hear the age of experimentation with drugs and alcohol. If you reach them before age 12, then you have a good chance of keeping them out of harm’s way. The other issue is that some parents honestly believe it will not happen to their child. 

"Through all of the interviews for Behind The Orange Curtain, the one constant was that all of these kids came from good families," she continued. "They were good kids, they went to good schools, churches, played sports, and had supportive loving parents. The truth about addiction is that it doesn't discriminate. It doesn't matter if you live on Park Avenue or the park bench; everyone is at risk by making one bad choice. I really believe that we have to beat the drum and inform the parents."

Costa said 'Just say no,' does not work. Just as everyone is clear on drinking and driving, they need to be clear on what is out there waiting for their child, she said.  

“I think that we have a tsunami of parents who are speaking louder and clearer than ever on what has happened to them, their families, and their lives because of this problem," she said. "Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack is on board with the film as her own son battled an Oxy addiction.  

"Everyone I speak to knows someone who is addicted, battling or has died from drugs and that is not an exaggeration. When I tell them about the film, they tell me about who they know who is in trouble with drugs. Many more now than ever before but it's still not enough.”  

Her fight is not over however, the next part of this problem is to get California State Assembly Bill AB472 (Ammiano) passed, she said. 

“This bill will provide that it will NOT be a crime for any person experiencing a drug-related overdose or those attempting to get help for those overdosing. We have several families in our film whose children would most likely be alive today if this bill was in effect," she said. "One father's daughter was left for nine hours before they called for help. Another family’s son was left on the side of the road after his 'friends' drove past several hospitals and attempted to make calls from payphones."

In their drug induced panic—they dumped his body, Costa said.

"This bill does not endorse drug use. It simply allows those who need help to get it,” she said. 

For more information about these films and the Newport Beach Film Festival visit newportbeachfilmfest.com/2012/

Debbie L. Sklar April 17, 2012 at 04:01 PM
@Gilbert: Yes, the moms have done a superb job.
Debbie L. Sklar April 17, 2012 at 08:42 PM
@vcova: Please drop Jodi an email at jbbb1979@aol.com and Natalie Costa at theperformersacademy@gmail.com . Thanks for reading and the great feeedback.
Kaard Bombe April 19, 2012 at 04:18 AM
Just wanted to let you know the actual link to the Overtaken Trailer is http://youtu.be/r2cqZ_9zKYY Hopefully this trailer can give you all a better sense of the movie! Congratulations to Jodi and the Overtaken crew and huge props to Patch & Debbie to making sure this important problem and discussion is not forgotten by our community!
angela barneby April 20, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Kaard: You did a great job and the moms, too. I've enjoyed reading about them on Patch and will be going to the movie and taking my teenagers.
Martha Mosier April 24, 2012 at 12:35 AM
Thank you Natalie, Jodi and Christine. Parents who don't think this is a serious issue facing ALL OF OUR TEENS in OC need to start talking to their kids. It is not fun to hear about it, but my four teens along with these films have enlightened me. The truth is frightening. There is no hype here...this is reality like it or not...We all must step up. You three ladies have started this awareness ball rolling... and I want to THANK YOU!

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