Insights from talented Filmmakers

Kevin P. Miller

“I had given these families and individuals a promise that I would tell their stories honestly. And did so”.

Kevin Miller photo

Kevin Miller

 

KEVIN P. Miller (50s) made something brave and sensitive. His documentary Letters from Generation Rx (official website here) is a journey inside the world of psychotropic drugs sold by doctors and society as miracle cures. The docu, narrated by Tilda Swinton and officially praised by director Paul Haggis, has won the Humanitarian Award from the Global Film Awards among other Festivals around the world. It will be screened at the Miami Independent Film Festival next June 25th-26th, during the Mindie first annual event. We believe films like these help build a better world.

 

INTERVIEWER

Hi Kevin. Could you tell us a bit about yourself before talking about your Docu?

 

KEVIN

Sure! Believe it or not, even though I was trained as a Journalist, I started my 20s in the music business, working with the likes of Sting, Bryan Adams, R.E.M., Peter Frampton, The Go-Go’s and many more.

Kevin Miller & the Police

A young Kevin P. Miller at his beginnings in the radio industry. Here with The Police

KEVIN (CONT’D)

While it was definitely fun, my true passion had always been writing and social justice, so I began my trek to become a filmmaker. As a writer, I dedicated to people-oriented stories. I’ve won Emmy’s and international film awards for pursuing the kinds of stories that I hope will help change people’s consciousness about the world they live in — and what they can do to constructively change it.

 

INTERVIEWER

(nodding.)

This is Filmmaking applied to reality. It affects society. (Kevin helped raising about $1 million for the homeless with his previous project The Promised Land – Vimeo here, Ed.). How would you describe Letters from Generation Rx to people who haven’t seen it?

 

KEVIN

It’s a film filled with human tales, pure and simple. It’s about families who trusted their doctors’ advice about psychotropic drugs – and later regretted the blind faith they’d placed in them. It is also a story about how these drugs were sold to society at large as “miracle cures”, when in many cases, nothing could have been further from the truth. Importantly, it is a film which ties the actions of government regulators (the people designated to protect consumers) to thirty years of confusion, mayhem, and even death.

 

INTERVIEWER

From which perspective have you analyzed a thorny subject like that of Psychotropic drugs?

 

KEVIN

Psychotropic drugs may reduce some of the symptoms related to depression, but they don’t provide a cure. In the most recent decades the Health system has prescribed antidepressants too easily, but the suicide rate hasn’t come down. Why have we failed? I believe we don’t know enough.

(beat.)

19 seconds. It’s the average time for a Doctor to make a decision and prescribe psychotropic drugs. These magic bullets are being shot too fast.

 

Lost in Thought-Rockies

Kevin P. Miller

 

INTERVIEWER

Tell us the honest opinion you have developed about the role of the Major companies involved in this huge business. Is it critical?

 

KEVIN

It is, unfortunately. The Majors have the tendency to whitewash facts and hide the truth about the deadly collateral effects of the psychotropic drugs they produce. The financial interest is out of control. GSK Paxil’s case: GSK has settled $ 3 billions in the US for illegal marketing in 2012, the largest healthcare settlement case in the US history. They payed straightaway as companies do when a payment is included in the business plan. Still, the problem is not financial: it’s human. These drugs, like Paxil, can lead to commit acts of violence, homicide or suicide. Given their right to perform this business, Majors should anyway make people aware directly about the collateral effects. But they don’t! As a result, an individual under these drugs may not understand what is real and make horrible things. As we see in the documentary.

sam-tess

Interviews to victims, not sensationalized, make the viewer fully aware of the collateral effects.

 

INTERVIEWER

Your interviews to the victims are shocking. You probably faced many hard times while shooting. Which were the main difficulties?

 

KEVIN

It was an unbelievably painful process at times, mainly because I knew that the stories were so tragically important, and that it was my responsibility to get the facts right. It was hard to interview the dozens of people/families who’d lost loved ones to these drugs. I’ll never forget one of my cameramen asking — after only the third interview — “how can you do this? It is so brutal”. I guess the answer as to “How” was that I had given these families and individuals a promise that I would tell their stories honestly. And did so. The budgetary challenges were immense also, but that is not necessarily unusual. One of my main goals is to always provide “a million-dollar film” even if the budget is nowhere near that amount.

 

Letters from Generation RX - Poster

Letters to Generation RX – Poster

 

INTERVIEWER

Did the budgetary constraints affect significantly the filming?

 

KEVIN

We were without funding for almost a year-and-a-half, so the film “officially” took about three years, although it was truly only about 15-16 months from start to finish.

 

INTERVIEWER

And you didn’t give up. This is a lesson to learn when we struggle to fund and develop our projects. By the way, how did you involve an influential actress like Tilda Swinton in the project?

 

KEVIN

You know, we don’t work with big budgets.

(laughing.)

One of my previous project costed $9 thousands. I put all my money in there and the deal was done. We put a lot of passion in our work. About Tilda, I just contacted her agent, explained my project and specified that I didn’t have a big budget. Luckily, she accepted.

 

INTERVIEWER

Passion is contagious. One last question about Film Festivals: why would you recommend other Filmmakers to apply?

 

KEVIN

Film Festivals are the lightning rod that brings people together to celebrate film! Even when the topics are shocking (no pun intended), Film Festivals provide one of the few forums to bring people together to experience film in a community setting. Good Festivals—particularly if they stocked with indie films—may be the most important vehicles for us. They not only expose our work to audiences, but also to distribution and other professionals. It is why I am so truly grateful to Mindie — and to all of the top-quality festivals.

 

INTERVIEWER

Thanks for this shot Kevin. And thank you for the huge effort you are producing with your projects: we fully support your work and your socially active vision of Filmmaking.

facebook.com/LettersFromGenerationRx

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Next Film Festivals

FestivalLocationEvent datesDeadline
Miami Independent Film FestivalUSA - Miami, FLJuneEach month
Brooklyn Film FestivalUSA - NYCJune 3-12March 7th
Fantasia International Film FestivalCANADA - MontrealJuly 14 - August 02May 1st
Venice Film Festival - La BiennaleITALY - VeniceAugust 31 - September 10Line-up announced at the end of July
Camden International Film FestivalUSA - Camden, MESeptember 15-18May 27th (Late). July 1st (Extended)
Santa Fe Independent Film FestivalUSA - Santa Fe, NMOctober 19-23July 1st (Late). August 1st (Final)
United Nations Association Film FestivalUSA - San Francisco, CAOctober 20-30May 26th
American Film FestivalPOLAND - WroklawOctober 25-30July 15th
Show me ShortsNEW ZELANDNovemberApril 15th
Black Nights Film FestivalESTONIA - TallinNovember 11-27September 15th
Sundance Film Festival 2017USA - UtahJanuary 19-29 2017Submissions open in June 2016. Deadlines by September 23rd or 26th
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