Meth Storm Directors on When to Apply Judgment, Analysis and Intervention

Featuring extensive access to law enforcement, Meth Storm provides a first-hand look at a rural Arkansas community ravaged by drug abuse, where a lack of job opportunities have landed people in endless cycles of poverty and incarceration. Directors Brent and Craig Renaud (Dope Sick Love, Little Rock Central: 50 Years Later) were on hand at the 2017 DOC NYC Film Festival to discuss their process making the film. Below, the key takeaways from their post-screening discussion:

It helped to have a local link.

Being from Little Rock, Arkansas helped them gain the consent of the Converses, the family at the center of the story. “I think that helped a lot in terms of trust factor,” said Craig. “We spent about two years making this film, and we spent enough time with them that they trusted us.”

Not every drug documentary is the same.

The brothers, whose previous documentary Dope Sick Love focused on the drug culture in New York City, knew they had a responsibility to make Meth Storm different. “We didn’t want to just make Dope Sick Love in the woods,” Craig commented. “We wanted to look at the class issues, the socioeconomic issues. We realized we know the cops and we know the robbers.”

Intervening was not an option.

As hard as it can be to watch this behavior, the directors knew they couldn’t interfere. “I don’t think we could’ve intervened to help any of them stop using drugs, seeing how addicted they were,” said Craig about whether there was a line to cross.

“We consider our jobs to be to document and to tell the story,” added Brent. “What looks incredibly dire and life-threatening to one person, if you’ve been in that world for a while, you kind of know that it’s not. You understand that there’s a line.”

The goal was to make a non-judgemental film, but one with context.

“We’re bombarded these days with judgement and analysis of everything,” observed Brent. “What we’re trying to do is give the audience a look into cultures or worlds that they don’t have access to,” he explained, “and give some empathy to that story.”

“We don’t really consider ourselves activist filmmakers,” he mused. “We want to provide context to people to make them understand these issues. There’s a million ways you can make a difference in your community, but for us, we want to tell the stories.”