When Spencer T. Folmar visited his hometown of Clearfield a few years ago, he was shocked and saddened to see how hard the area had been hit by the opioid epidemic.
“We’re all affected by this,” he said.
That visit inspired him to write, direct and produce “Shooting Heroin,” a Veritas Arts feature film that follows a group of residents who decide to take matters into their own hands in response to drugs impacting their small town.
Veritas Arts is a nonprofit that bought the Guthrie Theatre in Grove City about a year ago. Local residents will be able to see the movie during a “red carpet” event on Friday, Oct. 25.
Grove City is one of the stops for the “Shooting Heroin” premiere, which will be shown at theaters in different parts of the country – towns that Folmar believes will benefit from the story.
“The film gives hope to the situation,” he said.
Folmar, who lives in California, is a Grove City College graduate, and founder and president of Veritas Arts.
He is excited to share the movie with the Grove City community, and notes that there’s already been a lot of positive buzz about “Shooting Heroin.”
“There’s been a lot of support,” he said.
The Grove City event – a one-time showing – starts at 6 p.m at the Guthrie, 232 S. Broad St., followed by the movie at 7 p.m.
Some cast and crew members will be in attendance, and a question-and-answer session will be held after the movie.
The film’s main cast includes Sherilyn Fenn, Alan Powell, Cathy Moriarty, Nicholas Turturro, Garry Pastore, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Rachel Hendrix, and Brian O’Halloran.
“Shooting Heroin” is an important movie, and one of the first narrative films on the country’s opioid epidemic, Folmar said.
The storyline itself is fiction, but the subject matter could relate to any number of towns that have been devastated by drugs.
Folmar has learned that several of his high school classmates died from drug overdoses, and he’s met a lot of people who lost a loved one to drugs.
“It’s all ages,” he said of how it impacts entire families.
His research has been an “eye opener.” About 10 people a day die in Pennsylvania from opioids, and it doesn’t seem like enough people are talking about it, he said.
Folmar is hoping that his film will generate more conversations, and encourage people to try and help, even if it’s simply learning to practice empathy – there is so much shame connected to this crisis, which only adds to the problem.
“It’s a ‘call to action,’” he said.
The movie was filmed in Clearfield and Centre County in 2018, and Folmar is still learning a lot about the opioid epidemic.
He spoke to volunteer drug task force groups, first responders, medical professionals, law enforcement, community organizations, elected officials, those struggling with addiction, counselors, families, and more.
“It was a pretty extensive research and development,” he said, adding that he’s thankful for his hometown’s support.
He found an “overwhelming sense of despair,” especially among young people.
Folmar is grateful to those who opened up and shared their stories, including a crowd that was part of a test screening in Virginia.
It was rewarding to hear their stories, and they told Folmar that the movie is realistic.
“It doesn’t sugarcoat the situation,” he said.
“Shooting Heroin” is rated “R” for drug use and language, and it runs 90 minutes.
Creating this movie has changed Folmar. It’s the fourth feature film he’s directed, and it’s been the most challenging.
“It’s a sensitive subject matter and I think that kind of took a toll on everyone,” he said of the emotional impact it left on the cast and crew.
He is very pleased with how the film turned out, especially how the cast came together.
And he knows he’ll keep hearing more about the opioid epidemic in every town he visits with the film. He’s been hanging up movie flyers at various businesses, and even that small gesture has sparked quite a few conversations.
“Everyone has a story,” Folmar said.
For more information, visit www.heroinfilm.com or “Shooting Heroin – Movie” on Facebook. For more details about the Guthrie Theatre showing, call 724-458-9420, check out “The Guthrie Theatre” on Facebook, or visit www.theguthrie.org