PARTICIPANT TESTIMONIES

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SERVICE USERS:

Chris

My involvement in the in the film production process has been one of the most fulfilling things I have embarked on in recovery. I have learnt many new skills and it has helped foster an appreciation of screenwriting and all aspects of film production. 

It has had a huge impact on my recovery and has helped me connect with other like-minded people, also with people I may not have otherwise fostered a relationship with. It has inspired me to try and start a drama group at Phoenix Mill for other service users, which I started at the beginning of October.

 

Ed is a good communicator and has made what may have been difficult topics to digest for a novice, easy to understand. 

 

Overall I think the project has had a very positive impact on my confidence, it has encouraged me to connect, sometimes at moments when I may not have, if the project didn’t exist. It’s given me at the very least a distraction to the mundanity of recovery.

 

I would not hesitate to get involved in any future productions and the whole process has been exceptionally rewarding.

Paul

I enjoyed the whole process from start to finish. I love film and learning about the writing. It was not something I ever thought I'd be good at. The exercise we were given in the class - the one word - it just came out and I was able to write. It was surprising and I was very pleased with the finished product. It was really great to see it performed at the premiere too. When I watch stuff now, I wonder how many takes that took and I think about the lighting etc . Stuff you don't normally think about. You've ruined film for me!

 

Before this just to say two words made me nervous. And my lad is very shy too and then I bought him along and even though he was very reluctant once he got there he really enjoyed it and it was really good bonding for the two of us. He got the chance to do the clapper board and see himself in the teaser, which he loved. Being part of a team was great meeting different people, Chris and Zach, I met quite a few people which all helps in recovery. Anything that takes you away from using is a good thing.

 

It's all been dead interesting for me. I want to buy a decent camera, editing stuff. Have a bash at doing something myself.

 

Carole

The whole process was very informative. Seeing the other side of the camera. Meeting great people in recovery. And we were all in the same boat. We've been on a great voyage.

 

When it was suggested and when I was involved the panic button was pushed. But luckily we had some great guidance and so in the end it was plain sailing.

 

I very much enjoyed being an assistant in this project. I'm a big personality and I can just sit on the side but we all had to pull together, we all had roles and we were well led.

 

It was nice that Ed was open to criticism and took my views into account. I've been in recovery for a bit now but I still want to connect.

 

The film crew all had something in common. It's good for my morale to see people who have come out the other side. It was a great experience. I'm glad I didn't run off! 

 

Niall

It was informative, educational, inspiring and entertaining from my point of view. When the project started I was on the cusp of relapsing, I was thinking my day is boring why shouldn't I? But now, the day was transformed, now there's a reason not to use. My self-esteem register has gone up a notch. 

 

Apart from the magic of participating in the creative process, and the importance of telling a story which is and has increasingly become part of the social fabric, a tale of self-deception & redemption was painstakingly put together in a spirit of companionship which of itself made the adventure worthwhile. 

 

The film reminds us that the stigma of drug abuse, and of a spoiled identity, is not fixed, limpet- like. ‘Fine’ reassures us that this stigma isn't rooted in the gaze of others or, even more debilitating, in who or what one has become. The notion of a spoiled identity, far from being irredeemable and impregnable, is a straw man, inadvertently sustained by the self-loathing and self-deceit of an un-tethered identity, with broken ties to family and loved ones, and little hope of self-realisation. The film suggests that self-love can be rediscovered and sustained by a self-reckoning which counts truthfulness above lies, and that such a reckoning, with the help of others, can vindicate the present over its suffocating past.

 

It also stands as a cautionary tale: this reckoning isn't a forever zero-sum, winner takes all affair. What is precious is worth guarding. Those of us who have lost precious things know that mostly, we took our eye off the ball & that we didn't really lose so much as squander what we couldn't easily replace. The film's a reminder that something worth having is worth keeping, and something worth keeping is worth guarding will be understood by all.

Nick

I've started recovery because when I reached a really bad place in the past I tried to take my own life and was left with a bad brain injury from lack of oxygen. Cutting drugs out of my life felt like the best way to give myself a shot at neuro recovery.

 

I was scared about throwing out the comfort blanket of benzodiazepines and opiates but I'm learning that I can face life and it's better to engage than hide and disconnect from reality.

 

When I was invited to take part in making a short film, I was excited to learn some of the craft of story writing and telling through a visual medium.

 

It meant a lot to me and really helped improve my confidence to be asked to be part of a team making a film with an award winning director. I also really enjoyed learning about plot devices and structure as well as shooting and editing methods.

 

I'd be excited to take part in any future projects.

Zac

The whole process was amazing to be a part of. Ed very ably shared his experience of writing with the group in a way that was accessible to all participants.

 

Each member of the group was empowered to tap into their ‘inner writer’ and produce exciting scripts and develop a style of their own. Being involved in a creative process like this whilst working alongside other like-minded people in recovery was so rewarding.

 

I was lucky enough to have a foot in both camps and took part in both the writing of and performing of the material which was produced.

 

The quality of writing on display was a gift to perform, if I hadn’t have known I’d have thought these were written by professional playwrights. My fellow actors Eve and Thomas were superb to act alongside- they were patient, selfless and committed.

 

Overall, this was an amazingly humbling process to have been a part of and I truly believe that the arts can play a vital role in helping people to recovery from alcohol or drug abuse. This course and ones like it should be rolled out nationwide!

SERVICE PROVIDERS

Mark Jepson:

In my current role as Co-production and Involvement manager and as someone who was involved in the FINE project last year, I can only speak well of the work as something that offered a sense of joy, focus and achievement for the people involved.

Everyone who played a part had lived experience of addiction, some in recovery and some on their way to that state of being.

In the making of the film we inadvertently achieved something that has been the main focus of service delivery, this being partnership working and co-production (service user feedback).

Partnership Working – it was a coming together of Most Wanted Production Company, Bad Kamra Films and media, Bolton University, Change, Grow, Live (drug and alcohol charity) and most importantly people with lived experience of addiction.

Co-Production – the approach really worked, whilst orgs, charities and the system is obsessed with engaging with service users for feedback using various system based techniques as surveys, forums etc it was a lucky aside that without mentioning it we were gifted with pure unadulterated feedback, in the narrative of the film itself and also in their experience of being involved in the project.

Unasked for feedback tends to be the most genuine and like molecular structure the behaviour of something will change if it has awareness of being watched, I think you can transfer this to people.

Tony Horrocks (CGL):

I thought the Film Fine for service users was a great opportunity for people to be involved in a project from the start and watch it grow and evolve, but mainly to be part on something to its completion. For some people involved they may never (or for a long time) experienced this.

 

It was also a great way of disguising a learning environment, people will have learned lots of different aspects without feeling like there were in a class room.

 

I think one of the most important things was allowing a group of people to come together and connect, and to focus on something other than problems with drugs or alcohol. Addiction can be serious, isolating and consuming for some people. This process that they went through would have been the complete opposite, funny connecting and focusing.

Alex Marlow (CGL):

I worked closely with Ed and the team on the FINE project as part of my role as Communications and Marketing at CGL Manchester. I saw first-hand the positive impact it had on the service users involved, and noticed a buzz and excitement within the service because of the project and the professional and commitment shown by Ed and everyone involved.

 

Seeing the pride and happiness on the faces of the service users involved at the Premiere made the many months of organisation and preparation worth it, and it was clear from their testimonials on the night that it affected them in a hugely positive way.

FEEDBACK FROM SCREENINGS:

 

Scott Bradley, Northern Heart Productions

Northern Heart Films created a special film event to celebrate those in recovery and we wanted the absolute best short films we could find on the night. FINE is a sharp, humorous tale created by those in recovery.

 

The audience loved the film and it helped stimulate the discussion during the Q&A.

 

FINE was one of only three films on the night and they all had something truly powerful to say. It's important that these films reach a much wider audience, across the UK and internationally.