Movie documents Carson High School girl’s drug battle
Appeal Features Editor
Having achieved five months clean from methamphetamine, Cyndle Bell is working on the next big accomplishment in her life – graduating from high school.
Along the way, she has had several disappointments. She never played softball or basketball like she had wanted. She dropped out of school last year. But now she wants to turn her failures into inspiration for others.
As part of her mandatory senior project, she is making a 15-minute movie with Brian Reedy’s video production class, “An Addict’s Turn,” documenting her struggle with drugs.
“I want it to be an eye-opener for kids, especially the ones who are going to be freshmen,” she said. “I’m doing this mostly for my sister. I don’t want her to follow in my footsteps.”
Bell, 17, was in eighth grade when she went to a party of high-schoolers. It wasn’t unusual for the 13-year-old to be hanging out with an older crowd, she always looked older than she was anyway. And it wasn’t unusual for her to be exposed to drugs and alcohol. She started drinking at 11 and smoking pot at 12. So when she was offered meth at the party, not wanting to make a bad impression, she readily accepted.
“I didn’t know anything about it,” she said. “I just did it.”
And she liked it.
“It took away all my problems,” she said. “The feeling of it made me want to do it again and again.”
And she did it again and again and again, until she realized that instead of taking away her problems, it was creating them.
After Bell was caught skipping classes repeatedly, her mother called the police, who found psychedelic mushrooms in her possession.
Juvenile detention was followed by probation, and after failing several drug tests, she was sentenced to a three-month rehabilitation center in Silver Springs in April.
It was there, she said, her life began to change.
“I realized my family was there for me. They cared about me,” she said. “My friends just wanted me to still get high with them.”
After rehab, she relapsed and voluntarily returned in August. Since then, she has remained clean. She’s attended night classes to make up missing credits and is on track to graduate with her class in June.
She wrote the script for the film, which is centered around Heather, Bell’s character, and her relationship with her probation officer.
Video production student Chris Crevling is serving as assistant director on the film and has his own reasons for being passionate about the project.
“I hate meth because my mom had a problem with it and now we no longer talk,” he said. “I despise drugs and I hope this film gets in people’s heads. I want them to see how meth ruins people.”
Once made, the film, funded through a $30,000 federal Service Learning grant, will be distributed to agencies throughout the community and to schools around the country.
Members of the Academy of Digital Cinema, out of Los Angeles, helped with filming Wednesday and today and supplied two professional actors for the project.
“Working with kids and giving them technical knowledge is a good thing,” said David Mesloh, director of photography for the academy. “The fact that the project is what it is, is even better. It’s social accountability.”
The class is working with the city’s methamphetamine coalition, Partnership Carson City, designed to curb use of the drug within the community.
Bell said the first step in fighting the drug is letting go of denial.
“My mom didn’t want to believe it,” she said. “A lot of parents don’t want to think their kids are involved, so they let them do it.”
And, she said, the drug doesn’t discriminate.
“I would guess 60 percent of this school has tried it,” she said. “It’s not a certain clique. I’ve done it with jocks, with goths. It’s a real big problem in Carson.”
— Contact reporter Teri Vance at email@example.com or at 881-1272.
Filming of “An Addict’s Turn” concludes today and should be ready for viewing by early April. Show times and places will be announced.
Heather – Erin Navarre
Diane – Nicole Travolta*
Officer – Reggie Bannister*
Lisa – Alicia Freeman
Danny – David McComb
Gina – Olivia Lesperance
Jaime – Kristen Sandifer
Ben – Tyler Jackson
Gavin – Jacob Williams
* Professional actors from the Academy of Digital Cinema
Director: Tyler Bourns Jr.
Assistant director: Chris Crevling
Director of photography: Greg Saunders