When is the End the Beginning,…and the Beginning The End?
Interview with Writer/Director Richard T. Wilson (OutreachArts, Inc.)
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Thanks so much! Actually, my production company, OutreachArts (www.outreacharts.com) was asked by the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey to create a short film to help raise awareness about the growing problem of online gambling addiction. In fact, of the forty plus shorts we’ve made over the last 15 years, a third of our films have been about problem gambling - so, it’s become something of a specialty. We even had one of our problem gambling films featured at a U.S. Legislative Briefing last year (about Veterans and gambling addiction)!
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
Well, even though there’s a lot to be learned about what an insidious and nearly invisible disease gambling addiction can be, we always put entertainment first in everything we do. So, having said that, if you love a good, complex family drama, ‘Break Even’ is definitely for you!
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Well, for me it’s about what we have in common, so everything always feels very universal when I’m writing. The more personal components come in to play during the actual production; everyone providing their own unique colors to make it all work.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
The script came together very quickly - in part, because I wrote it with particular actors in mind. Honestly, because it follows two family members privately suffering with online gambling addiction, I was afraid the storyline might get a little too tricky. However, the cast really infused it with a wonderful, natural flow and it quickly turned into of my favorite projects.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Viewers have really responded favorably, calling the film ‘powerful’, and the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey was very pleased as well - so, everybody’s happy! Having said that, it will be exciting (and a little scary) to watch the film with a theatre full of people at the Awareness Film Festival next month in Los Angeles - a very different experience for me!
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
Well, it would be great to get more folks out to the Awareness Film Festival screening in the short term - and, generally, just let people know that OutreachArts is here to help as well as entertain. Also, we’re a teaching production company, introducing the younger actors we work with to the nuts and bolts of the film and television business. It’s been very gratifying to see ‘our kids’ grow into successful actors and producers themselves!
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
We’d really like to use ‘Break Even’ as jumping off point for a dramatic web series that would raise awareness about families suffering in silence with gambling addiction - and, quite frankly, just addiction in general. So, corporate sponsors/advertisers give me a shout!
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
Well, a few years back I received an E-mail from a Public Television viewer who had seen a film we’d made about suicide awareness (the Emmy® Winning MAPLE AVE episode, ‘After I’m Gone’). He was a recovering heroin addict who had dealt with serious mental health challenges since childhood - and he told me that our film had saved his life that day. I was stunned - and, obviously, very, very grateful that we’d had that kind of impact on his life. You always hope that the work you do inspires people, gives them hope - but you rarely ‘know’ what sort of impact you’re actually having. I can only hope ‘Break Even’ reaches audiences in a similar way…
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
‘How can gambling be an ‘addiction’ - isn’t it just a character flaw?’
Would you like to add anything else?
Yes - we formed a second company a few years back, Mad Shelley Films (www.madshelleyfilms.com) for strictly entertainment-driven projects. Mad Shelley produces ‘supernatural dramas with a twist’ and our first short, ‘The Halloween Girl’, I’m happy to say, has been very well received. In fact, it will be screening in Hollywood at the International Family Film Festival in late October!
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
We are currently in production on a new Mad Shelley Films produced web series, entitled ‘Under the Flowers’ - something of a mysterious, metaphysical‘Halloween Girl’ spin-off. No worries though, I’m still writing family dramas at the end of the day - they just come in spookier wrapping paper at Mad Shelley!
Interview: October 2016
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. 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
When is the End the Beginning,…and the Beginning The End?
Director: Richard T. Wilson (OutreachArts, Inc.)
Producer: The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey
Writer: Richard T. Wilson (OutreachArts, Inc.)
About the writer, director and producer:
Writer-Director Bio: Emmy® Award Winner, Richard T. Wilson serves as the President /Writer-Filmmaker of nationally recognized educational film company, OutreachArts, Inc. (www.outreacharts.com) and its new sister company, Mad Shelley Films (www.madshelleyfilms.com).
Producer Bio: The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, Inc. is a private non-profit organization that provides information, education and referral services for people affected by a gambling problem. The Council’s mission is to educate the public to the fact that compulsive gambling is a treatable illness.
LIZ - Laura Betz
TOM (Dad) - Brian Gallagher
LISA (Mom) - Eileen Matthews-Sitarski
BETH - Melissa Connell Cassara
MARTY - John Giordano
RACHEL - Tabitha J. Allen
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): Corporate Sponsors/Advertisers & Journalists
Funders: The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey
Made in association with: OutreachArts, Inc.
Release date: July 21, 2015