Junaid tells us how he became involved in making a film for the 2017 Recovery Street Film Festival.
In 2015 I was using crack cocaine and daily endangering my own life. I was involved in car crime and mentally and physically not in a very good place.
The first time I got arrested and went to prison I stopped using but when I came out I was putting myself in more risky and dangerous situations. The last time I was arrested I was in a really dangerous car chase and ended up crashing into a lamppost. I think I almost did it subconsciously – I wanted to get caught.
In prison I had some contact with support services and found out about the damage that crack cocaine does your brain’s dopamine receptors. I learnt that they needed to heal and that’s when I realised that rather than keep going back, I needed to be patient and give my body time to repair. When I left prison I recognised I couldn’t do it on my own and went to R3 to get support. I am so fortunate that I got help because with the road I was on someone could have got seriously hurt and I don’t know where I would be today.
Creating the film Making up 4 lost time was a great experience and a really relevant theme because I lost a lot of time in addiction. Our aftercare group made the film, and working on a project together gave us an opportunity to socialise and combine our skills. We all found it a cathartic process and really helpful. Plus, at the end it was great fun going to the Curzon and seeing our film shown on a big screen.
We used the instructions on the Recovery Street Film Festival website to help us get going. We started with a storyboard and then went out and filmed. An American rapper gave us permission to use his song which was about a mother addicted to drugs and we used this as a basis for our story.
If you’re thinking of entering, don’t be shy. Whatever your idea is or how obscure, just tell your story however you want to. There is no harm in doing it – just go for it!
Two years on, I have just started volunteering with Humankind. I want to get some qualifications and then hopefully work in the field. I am also working on my film for this year!
The closing date for submissions to the 2019 Recovery Street Film Festival is 1 August. The theme is ‘My Recovery Connections’ – who were the individuals, people and communities that have supported you? How did these connections help you on your recovery journey?