Coming soon: Drug documentary available on DVD
By Denise Crosby firstname.lastname@example.org June 12, 2012 1:38PM
Senior Kelly McCutcheon, left, works on redoing the audio from one of her interviews with the subject at her home in Naperville on Wednesday, May 23, 2012. McCutcheon and junior Jack Kapson are working on a documentary on drug use at Neuqua Valley High School. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 14, 2012 6:28AM
Jill Kapson has plenty of reasons to be proud of the hottest new producers in the Fox Valley.
“Neuqua on Drugs,” the documentary produced by her son Jack and his friend Kelly McCutcheon, premiered a couple weeks ago to rave reviews — and lots of requests for more information on how to see this film. The teenage duo has even been approached about a screening at the Naperville Independent Film Festival in September.
But Kapson’s pride doesn’t just stem from the fact she’s mom to one of the young producers. Kapson is also a social worker and therapist, so she knows full the seriousness of the local drug problem.
Even more compelling, Kapson herself was an addict — and has been in recovery now for 24 years. And she believes “Neuqua on Drugs” can be a powerful tool in the ongoing battle against heroin and other drugs.
“What the police and schools have done has been so important. But if you only focus on penalties or the legal aspects of a problem, it scares young people into remaining silent,” she says. “What they did with this video was give kids a voice. By getting these students to open up, it’s telling other kids they can say — “Hey, I need help. Or my friend needs help.’”
At one point Kapson, in her role as counselor, was to be included in the film. But then her son and Kelly decided they didn’t want any adults being part of it. Kapson was allowed to see only a small clip of it before it was screened at the 95th Street Library in Naperville May 30, and was “very surprised at how professional it was.”
More than 200 people saw “Neuqua on Drugs” that evening. Attendance would have been even more impressive had there not been a snafu that caused the first screening to run well into the allotted time for the second. Still, no one complained that night about the delay. And the young producers — who learned much of their skills at the Technology Center of DuPage, a career and tech campus for DuPage area juniors and seniors — got nothing but positive feedback.
That in itself is a testament to how far this community has come in the past year.
When I first began reporting on the heroin problem, there was a frustrating wall of shame and silence that seemed to surround it. That’s why all the teens involved with making the film deserve our special thanks.
“It was courageous of Kelly and Jack to produce the documentary, but also of the students that agreed to be interviewed,” said Neuqua Valley High School senior social worker Pam Witt. “It’s always a positive thing when students take the initiative to address what they believe to be an important issue in their community.”
It’s also encouraging that we have received so many calls and e-mails asking about the documentary. “Neuqua on Drugs” needs to be available to a much broader audience, including other schools in the Fox Valley. The two teenage producers are now fine-tuning the documentary and plan to make it available in July as a DVD. We’ll let you know when and how it can be ordered.
In the meantime, it’s people like Jill Kapson — and a bunch of kids with the guts to stare into a camera and tell it like it is — who remind us addiction is not an indictment but an illness. You can’t beat it unless you understand it. You can’t understand it unless you bring it out in the open.
Thankfully, dialogue has been started. Now we need to keep it going.
As Kelly McCutcheon so correctly put it, “I did my part. It’s up to the community to do the rest.”