What do you do when a good kid goes bad?
Interview with Writer/Director/Producer/Editor Todd Nilssen
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Thanks, I am hoping to shed light on a controversial industry I was a part of as a teenager. The film was a cathartic process for me and many others hoping to get answers and recognition for the experiences they went through.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
There is little to nothing known about the troubled teen industry and the institutions kids are sent to for behavioural treatment. Parents and teenagers should be aware of the history and possible damage of institutionalized treatment.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
The film's narrative weaves between the personal experiences and professional commentary of institutionalized abuse. Focusing on the rise and fall of one of the more notorious troubled teen programs in the United States - the Elan School.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
It didn't change or evolve much. In the end, the story was pieced together from testimonies of students and staff as well as professional insight with the goal of taking the viewer on a journey through the inner workings of Elan and the troubled teen industry as a whole.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Its all been very positive, ex-residents of Elan have sent me letters about how healing the film was for them and has even inspired many to tell their own stories through their own mediums. Even those who feel that Elan benefited them have spoken highly of the film. Of course, I've gotten a few detractors but that was to be expected, and their feelings are understandable.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
I knew going into this film that the Elan experience evokes a whole range of emotions. There are people that look back on Elan and feel they've gone through hell on earth, and there are people that consider Elan their saving grace. My view on Elan has always been pretty neutral and I've always respected the feelings of my fellow alumni, whichever side they're on.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I hope people will become interested in the film and subject matter. In my opinion, any good documentary will prompt the viewer to do their own research and seek more answers.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Anyone that can help spread the message of the film would be great, the more people that are able to see it will ultimately help pull back the veil covering this mysterious industry.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I hope it uncovers a largely underground industry that so far has not been subject to any sort of regulation and has actively fought against it.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Why has the troubled teen industry gone largely unnoticed?
Would you like to add anything else?
To find out more about The Last Stop, visit: www.thelaststopfilm.com
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
I'm working on a new project that focuses on the troubled teen industry as well as a short horror film inspired by a Creepypasta story.
Interview: June 2019
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series, music video, women's films, LGBTQIA+, POC, First Nations, scifi, supernatural, horror, world cinema. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
The Last Stop
What do you do when a good kid goes bad?
Director: Todd Nilssen
Producer: Todd Nilssen
Writer: Todd Nilssen
About the writer, director and producer:
TODD NILSSEN grew up in Long Island, New York and currently works in Manhattan as a professional editor. The Last Stop is his first journey into writing, producing and directing a feature-length documentary. The inspiration for the film came from his own experiences as a teenager, and as a graduate of the Élan program. For more about Todd, visit: www.tnilssen.com
Key cast: Maia Szalavitz
Looking for: journalists, film festival directors, buyers, distributors, sales agents, producers
Facebook: The Last Stop
Funders: Self-funded, Indiegogo
Where can I watch it next and in the coming month? www.thelaststopfilm.com