"Meth Head" Takes Director on Personal Journey

Friend's addiction shapes reality-based film

Actors Blake Berris (left) and Lukas Haas share an addiction to crystal meth in the film, "Meth Head", which screens Sept. 20 at The Palm Springs Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.

Courtesy of Meth Head


Writer/producer/director Jane Clark (Merchant of Venice, Head in the Clouds) will screen her latest film, Meth Head, at Cinema Diverse; The Palm Springs’ Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Sept. 19 – 22 at Camelot Theatres.

Featuring local actor Tom Sizemore among its talented cast, the film (screening at 11 a.m. Sept. 20 at Camelot Theatres in Palm Springs) follows the story of a 30-something man played by Lukas Haas, disappointed with where he is in life, who turns to crystal meth to escape reality. What is at first a seemingly more pleasant existence is soon revealed as an illusion, and the drug, the catalyst for self-destruction. 

Palm Springs Life talks with Clark (pictured below) to learn about the inspiration behind her most recent project.

You said your brother-in-law, as well as a friend, John, inspired this film. How largely based on their lives is this story?
“The original treatment was written completely around John to a great degree, and Dickie (my brother-in-law) to a smaller degree, but as I began to write the script, the tale by necessity molded and evolved. I did a great deal of research. I incorporated both of my experiences as a family member. I interviewed a friend of John's from back in the day — Princess — who became the basis for the character of Maia. There is nothing in the film that isn't in some way based on a true story, whether it was John's, Dickie's, or the numerous others who shared their experiences with me.”

What is something you learned about John that surprised you as he revealed his struggle/story to you?
“If I was surprised about anything initially, it was that he got hooked in the first place. We used to party together, and John never showed any signs of an addiction. So the fact that a random night led to trying meth and that that was enough to take him down  — that was a surprise. But John, no matter how dark of a place he went, was still, deep down, the generous, loving, good person I had always known him to be. So there was nothing that surprised me about John's journey. I was heart-broken for him sometimes; we cried a lot over the two-day interview process.”

What are three things you hope people will take away from the film?
"We have had so many varied responses, and all of them seem dependent on each individual's life experiences. So I leave it up to the individual. What I hope is that the audience leaves talking about the film, and thinking about it in the days after. What they talk about and think about is all about them."

In what way does this film, which focuses on drug addiction and its impact on relationships, different from other films that deal with the same topic?
"I haven't seen a ton of drug addiction films, to be honest. As a rule, I don't enjoy them, mostly because they are about the dangerous thrill of the drug rather than the human experience. What I think makes Meth Head different is that the story is intimate and about the human dramas. The drugs are a part of the journey, but it's the journey as a whole that matters. I also think that the film has a sense of humor — there's a lightness in between the darker experience. So while you are taken on a fairly disconcerting ride, you get to laugh at the humanity of these characters."

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