After kicking off Thursday, the Stony Brook Film Festival launches into its weekend Friday night with a 7:00 screening of 'Behind the Orange Curtain,' a documentary exploring a rash of teen drug overdoses in upper-class Orange County, Calif.
Director Brent Huff's film took the in May.
He recently spoke with Patch about the film.
3 Village Patch: What made you decide to take up this subject?
Brent Huff: It was truly unbelievable. I had no idea this was going on – you know, you’d hear it in the news but it hadn’t hit home to me. So Natalie Costa – who I know from the Performer’s Academy of Laguna Beach – contacted me and told me about a bunch of parents who had lost their teens to prescription drugs.
So I went and met them, and it was 12 parents and me in one room, and each parent spoke about the pain of losing a child. You can imagine the emotion that was in that room.
3VP: What did the parents have to say?
BH: Parents talk about pot, alcohol, maybe cocaine. But they don’t talk about prescription pills. I had a teenage daughter at the time – now she’s 20 – so I know what parents go through.
People might ask ‘Why didn’t parents step in?’ It’s not until you have someone go through that when you find out it’s not that easy. There’s no easy fix. You can talk about it over and over and over and people can still not see the light.
And you might think these parents weren’t hands on. I found that wasn’t the case; they were very hands on. A lot of it is who they hang out with. That’s a big red flag.
3VP: What were some of the things you found while making the film?
BH: I didn’t realize that Oxycontin is exactly the same high as heroin. I found out about these pill mills – dirty doctors – and kids know where to find them.
Teenagers are rebellious anyways. They’re moody anyways. So it’s hard sometimes to tell what they’re on, if anything. You can smell alcohol. You can smell pot. But you don’t know what they’re on with pills. Sometimes they even don’t.
Have you heard of a trail mix party? Or a skittles party?
BH: Basically kids raid their parents’ medicine cabinet and get a bunch of pills. Throw them into a bowl at a party. And take whatever they pull out. They don’t even know what they're taking.
3VP: What does the name signify – what’s the orange curtain?
BH: It refers to the difference between Los Angeles and Orange County. I call it Pleasantville, because everything looks so great on the outside. Conservative, Christian values. Well-groomed. But it’s a mirage. And it refers to what’s going on behind those gates.
The rich kids at the private schools are the ones who can afford Oxycontin. At a dollar a milligram, most kids are doing 80 milligrams. But once they need to keep going back for more money, a balloon of heroin costs $6. And it’s not at a house party that they start doing heroin. Prescription drugs come first.
3VP: How did you find all this out?
BH: When we went to the Orange County Coronor’s Office we actually showed them a trailer of what we’d been doing until they let us in. When we went with the friend of one boy who had died and was in there, two months later we were standing back inside looking at his own tag.
You find a lot of the kids unfortunately at funerals of their friends. One even OD’d in the sanctuary of the church at another kid’s funeral. From there, I told them I’m not a cop, I’m not their parent, I’m not with the D.A. And they would just open up and tell me, ‘It’s all over, man.’ Dana Hills, which is one school out here, they call Dana Pills. Another school’s nickname is The Pharmacy.
I tried to make it more from a parent’s perspective – because I feel their pain. We know they’re gonna party. ‘Just Say No’ didn’t really work. And I’m not talking down to kids. I’m just saying, ‘This is what can happen.’ It will sneak up on you.