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Hollywood films have often glorified drugs and alcohol on screen but now an industry non-profit group is trying to use the filmmaking art to counter the abuses which have led to well known stars as well as average people becoming victims of addiction.
“Hollywood gets the bad shake that we promote drugs and alcohol,” says Lowell Cauffiel, co-founder of the group, Primary Purposes Productions. “I say no we are not and we can take the same talents and make entertaining films that address the problem. This is a way of giving back.”
Cauffiel wrote and directed Men In A Box, which he calls a homage to The Twilight Zone episodes. It is one of three short films that will be shown as part of a Trilogy of Recovery on Sept. 28 at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills, at a fundraiser for the Midnight Mission, chosen for its alcohol and drug rehabilitation work and efforts to end homelessness.
He also produced his short and two other 30-minute films which will be shown at the benefit. They are Bed Ridden, which Cauffiel also wrote, and Plan B, a comedy starring John Michael Higgins.
Other actors who donated their services to the shorts include Kurtwood Smith, Joel David Moore, Alan Tudyk and Jessica Cauffiel, who is Lowell’s daughter.
Two of the films, which cost about $50,000 each, were funded by the Dana & Albert Broccoli Charitable Foundation. The late Albert Broccoli was the producer of the James Bond movies until his death in 1996. His son, Tony Broccoli and wife Rika have provided support for Primary Purpose’s films and distribution. The board includes Sandra de Castro Buffington, head of Hollywood, Health & Society.
Cauffiel founded Primary Purpose with director Jonathan Heap whose 1991 short 12:01 PM was nominated for an Oscar. The idea was born in Michigan when Cauffiel was working with PhD students at the University of Michigan. He wrote a story about addiction, which led to a $1 million grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism for him to use storytelling to motivate people with addiction and abuse problems to get help.
“We found that people responded to stories more so than scientific information,” Cauffiel tells THR. “We tested the power of story on troubled teenage drinkers.”
In 2002, Cauffiel moved to L.A. where he met Heap in 2005. They teamed up during the 2008 writer’s strike after meeting when both attended an anti-alcoholism program. Their first film was Bed Ridden, which began as a short for YouTube and was based on a true story.
“I tested this first film with a couple different rehabs and found that people were really moved by it,” says Cauffiel. “Then we decided we ought to make a non-profit production company to pump out these films.”
That led to the creation of Primary Purpose in 2009. Their goal is to make and distribute up to three films a year over three years, for a total of 12. They then want to distribute the films to 14,000 drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities in the U.S.
Men in a Box and Bed Ridden were official selections at the Hollyshorts and Reel Recovery Film Festivals.
Tickets for the “Trilogy of Recovery” premiere event are $25 and are available at www.primarypurposeproductions.org.
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