Don’t tell Angelica Hester that it can’t be done. Her and her team are on a mission to use video to give a voice to the millions of people in recovery. Her organization, Little Birdie Films is in the process of putting together a feature film documenting the truth behind addiction, and bringing it to the forefront of casual conversation. For Angelica it’s simple, why isn’t anyone talking about this?
She has a unique past that has given her the experience and the strength to go forward with these projects, and we look forward to all of her work.
Sober Nation is teaming up with Angelica and her team to bring these videos into the mainstream. We need to get personal accounts on what goes on in the world and the lives of those suffering with addiction.
We took some time to catch up with Angelica, and I think you will find this new expedition just as exciting as we do.
Interview With Angelica Hester from Little Birdie Films and Set To Release The Feature Length Film Entitled Cuffed?
Sober Nation – Hi Angelica. Thanks for doing this.
Angelica – Are you kidding me? It’s my pleasure we are so excited to be doing this with you guys.
Sober Nation – Ok, let’s get right into it. Tell us about CUFFED?.
Angelica – As strange as it may sound, CUFFED? is a film I have lived my life to create. I’m not looking to be the poster child of opiate addiction, but looking at the way I grew up it’s very clear that addiction played just as much a role in shaping and guiding my life as my parents themselves did. When it’s said that addiction is a family disease you cannot deny it. I cannot deny it. My family has always existed at the gripping claws of this disease. Growing up I was always bewildered at how different the outside world functioned compared to my family. I felt like I lived on the fringe of society. Not quite a total outcast, but far from understanding the language of being social accepted.
CUFFED? is a film that attempts to bridge the gap between the countless people hiding in the shadows suffering with the shame of addiction, and public society. When I say “public” I mean the parts of our culture deemed socially acceptable that people are willing to talk about. Addiction isn’t quite one of them yet. Not in a real way, at least.
So CUFFED? is a feature length documentary following the lives of five real people who have irreversibly been effected by addiction. We do focus on opiate addiction. In part because addiction to prescription pills and heroin is on the rise now, and it is one of the hardest addictions to pull yourself out of. Also opiate addiction is what I am most familiar with.
It’s a shade of life I’ve lived a long time in. And through telling these personal stories we hope to break away the stigma of addiction, show real humans behind it. The people sharing their stories are some of the most beautiful, open hearted individuals. Through their struggles we are able to explore what about society is holding us back from really battling this disease in a successful way. So we explore the recovery systems currently in place. Methadone maintenance treatment being at the top of that list. We really dig in and get to know this form of treatment. A lot of what is uncovered by doing so is very revealing of our society, our government, and individuals perception of their own ability to live a thriving life.
But we do not stop there. We came up against the wall that is the recovery systems in place now, and broke through it to find anything else that may be working better. That’s how we found some outstanding experts who are doing the work around the country to improve the addiction and recovery treatment field in the United States. By shining a light on these folks we hope to offer a bit of hope with this film. I did’t want to make a film that throws our minds into the muck of what is and leave you wondering “what now?”.
Sober Nation – What is your inspiration behind this project? You must have a message you are trying to put out there.
Angelica – There is so much I hope we are communicating with this film. However, with film work, and documentary especially, you never really know what people will take away. It’s like a conversation. You can bring yourself to the material and give it all you have, but what the audience takes is up to them.
Above all I hope they see a message of self empowerment. We live in a society today where so much that is so wrong is being spoon-fed to us as “what’s good for you”. A doctor tells you to take a pill for your anxiety, he’s a doctor, you’re uncomfortable, why question it?, so you take the pill. And then three years later you are hooked on that set of pills, and a couple of other to deal with the side affects, and one more to make the first pill work just a little bit stronger. It goes the same with the food we eat, the lifestyles we live, and the TV we watch.
I am hoping by taking this path to empower myself with more knowledge about addiction and the human spirit, and sharing this knowledge with the public, it will empower the audience to take back their own lives. So many of us are sick and suffering because we have lost that free will. That ability to question what is told to you is gone. I want people to be more in touch with their own instinct and emotions. Like with addiction, there is no one-size-fits-all to recovery, in life there is no one-size-fits-all to living healthy and happy.
Sober Nation – How has your work been received so far?
Angelica – Anyone I speak to about the film get’s really excited. Some of them are excited for me, knowing how much self healing is involved by me just doing the work of making the film. Also people are excited to see a new approach. We cover the science of addiction, but we also cover the social and spiritual aspects of addiction. And we address the trauma involved with many people falling into addiction. Trauma being a term defined by each individual life. I think people are more willing now to face harder stuff life deals us. That’s why films like “Fat Sick and Nearly Dead”, and “Super Size Me”, and “The Culture High” have such a large audience. People want to wake up.
There are also those who are living comfortable within the broken system of addiction recovery, and are resistant to change. Those folks, like the ones who feel as if methadone maintenance is a way of life, are not very supportive of the work. With CUFFED? we focus on telling a point of view from that perspective as well. We don’t want to serve up a one sided, “this is the way things should be” story. What we want is to showcase all sides of it, and let the audience decide for themselves “the way things should be” for their life individually.
Sober Nation – What is your endgame? What is your goal?
Angelica – When I started this film it was solely about seeking out valuable information for me, and shaping it into a human story. It was about making a good film. Now it has begun to open up to exciting new opportunities, pairing up with SOBER NATION being one of them. I am thrilled to work with you guys to be a part of this movement.
Sober nation has not been shy when talking about addiction because addiction is real, it affects more of us than we want to admit, so admit it and lets deal with it together. You guys are doing the work of breaking the stigma, and I love it. I am so thrilled to be a part of it with you. We are in the works of creating some amazing content together that I cannot wait to share.
Sober Nation – Well we are equally excited to be working with you. We’re just about finished but finally, tell us about your plans for the near future.
Angelica – Well we have 16 days left of our kickstarter campaign. So the plan now is to reach our goal and raise the funds necessary to complete the film. So far we have been shooting for two years out of pocket. Now weneed six more months of shooting and a little help from our community to finish it up. Then the next six months we will be out in the field, all over the United States filming. When we have completed filming we will need at least another six months to complete the post production.
We are also going to be expanding on the message of the film by pairing up with SOBER NATION to produce web based content addressing tough subject involved with addiction and recovery. That content will be completed sooner than the film, and released regularly. So keep an eye out for that.
Sober Nation – Where can people learn more about Cuffed?
Angelica – The best place to learn more about CUFFED? is our kickstarter page: bit.ly/cuffedkickstarter
Please feel free to donate as little as $5 and share the link with your friends. We need all the support we can get, and every dollar counts.
You can also learn more about the film and the crew involved in making it on our website:
Sober Nation – Thanks again Angelica. You’re a bad ass mofo!