How does a young person go from starring in the school play to putting a needle in his arm?
Written Off reveals the achingly personal journey of Matt Edwards as he battles addiction. A charismatic storyteller with a unique curiosity for life, Edwards longs to leave rural Wisconsin behind and see the world. But as a teen, a prescription for a powerful painkiller following a botched toe surgery exposes him to opioids for the first time. They make him feel like he has been "touched by God." What follows is a valiant decade-long struggle to survive against increasingly potent drugs.
Matt keeps a meticulous record of his journey in grippingly honest journals -- how much he takes, how he finds it, what it costs, and his never-ending attempts to quit. They serve as a warts and all memoir of his desperation for that next fix and what he'll do to get it.
The Opioid Crisis is a national emergency. Every day there is another front page tragedy detailing another spectacular fall from grace. What's missing is a real understanding of the complicated human experience of addiction, Matt Edward's story is one of secrets, shame, and crushing stigma that make him feel like a society has written him off. The film Written Off changes the way addiction is understood. In his own words, Matt reveals that behind the addiction there is a person - all at once lovable and despicable, funny and pathetic, destructive and aware of his failings.
FILMMAKER'S STATEMENT: "My cousin Emily died of a heroin overdose at the age of 20. Even today, if anyone ever talks about it, it is to intimate that there was an inevitability to her death. Ten years passed, and I started to read about the 'opiate epidemic' almost every day in the paper. It made me rethink Emily's death. Could we have helped her if we'd understood? As documentary filmmakers my partner, and Director of Photography, Rob Lyall and I have spent most of our careers rooted in the distant past. We have long desired to use our skills to tackle an issue close to our hearts. This film is dedicated to Emily and all the others like her who are Written Off."
Reviews & Awards"STARRED REVIEW. A compelling and highly recommended film about addiction that should be shared with high school students, parents, and other entrusted with the care of teens."
-School Library Journal
"What sets this documentary apart are journal excerpts read by an actor, home-movie footage, and testimonies from family and friends...This heartrending story puts a face on opioid addiction. This revealing program is a good way to start classroom discussions with older teens."
"Powerfully shows one person's downfall caught on tape and revealed via his brutally honest diary excerpts. Another heart-wrenching tale of lives lost to the scourge of drugs."
"This gripping film will change the way you think about America's opioid crisis."
- Jane O'Brien, BBC News
"A valuable resource to educate families and loved ones about the struggle and journey of addiction, while also presenting an opportunity for healing and recovery."
- Charlene Gradney, Louisiana Department of Health
"Powerful and innovative take on the complications involved with addiction."
- Falls Church News Press
"This particular film brings that [secret drug abuse battle] home in a way that statistics can't."
- Gigi Peters, Executive Director of the MidSouth Center at UA Little Rock
"Provides insight into the life of an addict and the struggles and fears he faced on his own with little to no resources to help him out of his addiction."
- Waupaca County News
"Features the story of Matt Edwards, but relates to millions who've come face to face with prescription drug abuse...Hopes to combat the stigma around drug use and encourage compassion."
"A gripping personal narrative documentary"
- The Ad Agency
"Helps personalize the current opiate epidemic and makes Matt's story not just another statistic."
- Voice America
BEST DOCUMENTARY, Arizona International Film Festival
BEST DOCUMENTARY, Omaha International Film Festival
BEST DOCUMENTARY, Weyauwega International Film Festival
BEST DOCUMENTARY, Julien Dubuque International Film Festival
BEST DOCUMENTARY, Utopia Film Festival
BEST SCREENPLAY, Richmond International Film Festival
BEST SCREENPLAY, Ridgefield Independent Film Festival
AWARD OF EXCELLENCE, 2016 HUMANITARIAN AWARD, IndieFest
Richmond International Film Festival
Omaha Film Festival
Julien Dubuque International Film Festival
Arizona International Film Festival
Ridgefield Independent Film Festival
Utopia Film Festival
LA Awareness Fest
Weyauwega International Film Festival
Green Bay Film Festival