We Were Going to Start a Death Metal Band


TYPE
: Documentary Feature
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Production

LOGLINE

What is the space between life and death after addiction?

What happens when a person wakes up after an overdose and doesn't go to rehab or continue their habit?

SYNOPSIS

This documentary feature will create an understanding of an existence frozen between life and death, a friendship reunion, trauma, religion, and small town America.

Many people suffer from oxygen deprivation after an overdose and Michelle Eastridge is one of those people. One night in 2015, she mixed multiple sleeping pills with heroin and died on her bathroom floor surrounded by her own vomit. She was found by her boyfriend, Josh, and was revived by first responders.

Michelle now suffers from dystonia which developed suddenly, after months of positive recovery. She is plagued by stiff, painful limbs and movements which look like they’re in slow motion. She speaks through an Ipad or Facebook Messenger and gets around on an electric wheelchair which she must be carried into.

Michelle expresses that she wants to “tell the truth”.  Aside from the usual social stigma, her religious upbringing would compound the shame and embarrassment her addiction brought upon her. In addition, after the accident, she and her boyfriend/caretaker were afraid she wouldn’t get the care she needed if doctors found out she was taking street drugs, and hadn’t overdosed on prescriptions alone, as they had been telling others. The cold and judgmental responses they received after her blood tests in the hospital had them afraid.

This film is Michelle’s platform to be raw and honest. And funny. Running her scooter smack into a wall? She just grins. Pressing the same noise on her ipad over and over just to annoy people? She giggles. But in her heart she wants to show her situation as a cautionary tale and inspire others to abstain from drug abuse, leave abusive relationships, and seek help before “you can end up like me”. She hopes they can see themselves in her story and change their lives.

Michelle has recently moved to Oklahoma to live with her family and to be close to better healthcare. Her fight for mobility and beautiful spirit is captured and displayed for the audience. She is now in physical therapy after a long time of feeling hopeless. If she can’t express herself vocally again, she wants to be able to paint like she used to. She even wants to learn Photoshop.

A neurologist and psychologist provide information about what has happened to her nervous system and what could be happening to her mental state living with a minimal amount of expression. As a supporting segment, a story from another overdose survivor is told. There is an introduction between this person and Michelle to share their stories and provide support and understanding. They aren’t alone. This film sheds this community’s fear of being forgotten because of their past decisions and their current state.

Lexi Phillips is Michelle’s best friend from their teen years. Now a filmmaker in New York City, she reconnected with Michelle in  2019 over Facebook. After 10 years, and growing into adults who lead very different lives, they reunited and started their friendship over, 4 years after Michelle’s accident. Their rekindled friendship is a driving force throughout the film and Lexi’s account of Michelle’s tragedy from afar paints a different picture of what happened, as opposed to the ones close to her during that time.

ARTISTIC STATEMENT

I, Lexi Phillips, am Michelle’s former high school best friend. We are 32 now. We’re from a tiny, conservative Texas town, famous for its Country Music Hall of Fame. We slowly grew apart when I went to college. I tried to keep up with her as young adults but usually was ignored. I became a filmmaker and moved to New York.

(Unfortunately our fantastical aspirations of starting a death metal band didn't work out.)

When she told me she lived in North Dakota with her then husband because of his job relocation and what her interests were, I knew we weren’t anything alike anymore. She was always a hothead, and I didn’t dare preach to her about her choices. After her overdose in 2015, I tried to visit her, but the timing didn’t work out. I had to return to Abu Dhabi where I was teaching filmmaking.

I found out in 2019, by reconnecting with her over Facebook, I learned about a world my friend had been living in for the past 4 years. She told me how she couldn't talk or walk. She had a feeding tube. She watched TV literally all day. I saw pictures of her with a contorted, stiff body. It was rough to see but also so confusing. From her posts, she looked fine. Apparently, she had been hiding not just a major disability, but also how she got that way. She doesn't want to hide anymore and is eager to use her story as a cautionary tale.

In addition to Michelle's powerful story, this film introduces other people living in similar conditions. I want to give them an audience to tell their stories and show that their lives are important, regardless of their past choices.

Michelle’s and my reunion after 10 years has been captured. Get ready to tear up. Her humor is still as strong, and she’s just as much of a smart ass as usual. Through her iPad voice, she told me I was a little snothead who had to be in charge of everyone in our third grade class. Yeah.. the personality is healthy. Oh, and don’t forget its accompanied by an original metal soundtrack.

KEY CREW

Lexi Phillips - Director

Lexi is a former cinematographer, turned post-production professional and NYFA instructor. A graduate of the University of North Texas as a Radio, TV, and Film major, she made her focus documentary filmmaking. Lexi made a career for herself as a filmmaker in New York City and is back to her roots as a documentary director. Her 2009 documentary Denton Queens was received as bold and profound. She introduced audiences to two beloved drag queens who turned a small Texas town around creating acceptance and immense entertainment. We Were Going to Start a Death Metal Band is her gift to Michelle and all the others the tragedy affected.

Daniel Hernandez - Cinematographer

Born and raised in Mexico City, Daniel came to NYC to attend the School of Visual Arts. After working as a cameraman both at home and abroad, he became a DoP for the NYU School of Law and a cinematography instructor. He also is the co-founder of DF-NY Productions, which has produced commercials, promos, and is currently working on De Noche, a documentary series about Latinx immigrants working in arts and nightlife in NYC.

Wesley Newfarmer - Producer/AD

Wesley is a producer and editor. A recent transplant to New York, he has worked in production for 15 years, with projects spanning across documentary TV, news, live theater, and web series. He is very proud to be a part of the team for this important feature film.

David Ward - Producer

Based in New York City, David currently employed as the head of New York Film Academy’s Production Services Department. David has developed his skills as a Producer by taking on work as a Post Production Coordinator, Production Manager, and Production Services Supervisor. Having worked in the narrative and commercial worlds, David will make his documentary producing debut with Lexi Phillips’s We Were Going to Start a Death Metal Band.

Bill Einreinhofer - Executive Producer

Bill Einreinhofer is an American television producer, director, writer, a three time Emmy Award winner.   He has developed and produced programming for the PBS NewsHour, Good Morning America and HBO. A member of the Directors Guild of America, he was an executive producer at WNET in New York and for the PBS series INNOVATION. He produced, directed and wrote Spacewalkers: The Ultimate High-Wire Act for the Discovery Channel. He also produced and wrote numerous television programs related to China. In 2018, he was Executive Producer of the documentary Shanghai 1937: Where World War II Began. It is being distributed by American Public Television (APT) to 230+ Public TV stations nationwide. These stations reach 80+% of the U.S. national television audience, and include 7 of the top 10, and 19 of the top 25 markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Houston and San Francisco.

 

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