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Monday, February 7, 2011

2011 CPDD/NIDA Media Award Winner: Justin Hunt and His Film American Meth

Substance abuse and dependence have been widely portrayed dramatically in film.  In addition, there are several excellent documentaries on the topic, including the 2007 film American Meth.

Mr. Justin Hunt, writer, producer, and director of the film, recently won the 2011 CPDD/NIDA Media Award.  American Meth has won several other awards including Best Documentary at the Cinema City International and TriMedia Film Festivals (2007) and the Most Socially Engaging Film at the Eugene International Film Festival (2007).

The 72-minute film, which is available for online viewing at Hulu, graphically portrays the struggles faced by a number of families and individuals afflicted by methamphetamine abuse, providing a snapshot of some of the significant societal burdens associated with methamphetamine.  Mr. Hunt lived with one of the families portrayed in the film during shooting and captured in great detail the devastation the drug can cause to families.

The film’s website also includes a number of resources intended to assist those afflicted with methamphetamine abuse.

CPDDBLOG interviewed Mr. Hunt to find out more about his background and the film.

CPDDBLOG:  How did you get your start in film?

Justin Hunt:  I was actually a news anchor and reporter for NBC affiliates in New Mexico.  I left in 2003 after about 8 years of television work.  Started my company, Time & Tide Productions, doing weddings and sports videos, TV commercials, and corporate projects, until I did American Meth.  After the premiere screening on March 22, 2007, everything changed.

CPDDBLOG:  What made you want to do a film about methamphetamine abuse?

Justin Hunt:  I was on a men's ministry retreat with 7 other guys, fishing in Mexico, when I decided that I wanted to do this project.  It came out of the question, 'are we doing what we are called to do?'  I started shooting two months later, having no idea what was in store.  I chose the topic of meth abuse because I had done a shorter documentary, 'The Meth Monster', on meth abuse in San Juan county, New Mexico, where I lived.  I didn't get to explore that topic as much as I had wanted to, so it was a perfect fit.

CPDDBLOG:  What was it like for you personally to observe first hand some of the results of methamphetamine abuse?

Justin Hunt: It was something that created conflicting emotions, that's for sure.  On one hand, being a single father to two kids, I was really pissed, to be honest, to see how these kids were neglected.  On the other hand, I also observed that James and Holly (the addicts I lived with) were normal people with an abnormal problem.  They loved their kids, they just failed at making the connection between intention and application, between what they wanted to be and what they were.  Their selfishness had taken over.

CPDDBLOG:  Do you have any future plans to do a follow up film on methamphetamine abuse or about other forms of substance abuse?

Justin Hunt:  At this point, I don't.  I have other social issues that I'd like to take on, including the issue of disengaged fathers, which I do in my new film, 'Absent'.  But, just as any other thing in life, you never know what can happen over time.

CPDD looks forward to meeting and congratulating Mr. Hunt in person when he receives his award at the CPDD Annual Meeting Plenary Session in June.

CPDDBLOG welcomes CPDD member’s thoughts on this issue.

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