RIVER VALE, N.J.– Seeing heroin use and its effects for the first time was an "eye opening" experience for Kenny Spooner of River Vale.
He spent nights in Elizabeth hotel rooms and in a Paterson cop car for a ride along to capture footage for the upcoming documentary " Epidemic H " he's filming with friend Mike Mee.
“This film is very raw and really gritty because that’s the truth behind the heroin culture," Mee, 26, told Daily Voice. "It’s not pretty. [Epidemic H] is not going to sugarcoat any of that. It's about digging down to the raw truth of why heroin has taken hold of so many lives."
The duo interviewed police, elected officials – including former Governor Jim McGreevey – and more, along with two northern New Jersey families embroiled in the heroin epidemic to "get all the angles," Mee said. “Each interview is so different and very deep.”
They spoke with a West Milford family whose son suffers from quadriparesis after consuming a hot batch of heroin at a party. They interviewed an addict, who shot up prior to filming, with his sister present, resulting in an emotional session.
“Heroin has really become this culture in people’s lives," said Mee. "Unfortunately when someone does heroin, they bring their families and loved ones down with them.”
By having no connection to the subject and "keeping a safe distance," the filmmakers could objectively tell the story "the way it should be told," said Mee.
“We are so passionate about telling stories through film," he added, "[and] we like to help people along the way.”
The film has been in production since May 2015. Mike O'Brien, 25, of Westwood will serve as editor and entertainment veteran Dorothy Purwin Fucito of Ridgewood as producer. Shooting will wrap in roughly six weeks.
During that time, Mee and Spooner have gained the trust of the film's subjects.
“They’re an open book to us," Spooner, 26, said.
However, to get the film out there, more funding is required. To help, a Go Fund Me page was created.
“We need to get eyeballs on this film," said Spooner. "As filmmakers, we are confident that this is going to be the film in America that people talk about when it comes to addiction."