Thursday, December 25, 2008

Trip To Hell And Back to screen at Australia Fest

Trip to Hell and Back, a documentary film about horse-riding champion turned drug dealer turned recovering addict, Trip Harting will screen at the 2009 Melbourne Queer Film Festival.

"I know that Trip would have been proud to be included in such a prestigious event," says the film's director, Stu Maddux. " Harting passed away unexpectedly just three weeks after the documentary's world premiere in August, 2008.

Director Stu Maddux during the film's screening at the Rhode Island Intl. Film Festival in August 2008
Harting could not attend because he was undergoing tests that would quickly show that he was terminally ill

Maddux along with former friends and colleagues of Harting have been championing the short film ever since.
Screening details

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Trip to Hell and Back now available on DVD

Trip to Hell and Back is now available on DVD for $19.99 at our website or visit:

-Film (30 minutes)
-Extended Cut with more than 20 minutes of deleted scenes
-Theatrical Trailer
-Special behind the scenes footage and interviews (Here's a look at the behind-the-scenes segment created by editor David Neuendorff):

We are very excited with what we've created. Each sale offsets the expenses of making and showing the film. And as Trip himself says in the film, "if it can help just one other person then it's all worth it."

Stu Maddux, Director

DVD Release this week

DVD Cover Art for the film Trip to Hell and Back, November 2008

Trip to Hell and Back will be available for purchase on our website later this week and I personally am very pleased with what the DVD authors have created.

-Film (30 minutes)
-Extended Cut with more than 20 minutes of deleted scenes
-Theatrical Trailer
-Special behind the scenes footage and interviews


If you would like to be notified when it is available please visit this link.

-Stu Maddux, Director

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Chicago Screening this Sunday

Trip to Hell and Back will be screened this Sunday at Reeling Chicago: The Chicago Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. Click here for details.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Director reacts to riders' comments

It has been an honor to read ALL of the comments (both hurtful and hopeful) that have been posted so far at the Chronicle of the Horse about Trip and the documentary “Trip to Hell and Back.” Clearly his story has shocked many people but also seems to be creating the awareness that Trip had hoped for. I wish he could be here to answer them personally.

As I was reading through these posts, I felt like I should be a steward of the facts.

Some posts make the wrong assumption that Trip used and even dealt drugs while judging or at clinics. He states in the film that he never used drugs when he was around horses. As a journalist with more than 20 years of experience interviewing people I believe this to be the case. But, I encourage you to view his response for yourself in the first 10 minutes of the extended cut and draw your own conclusion.

There are also posts that incorrectly assume why he made the film. Some say for money others say that he knew he was dieing and wanted to atone for his wrong doings.

He did not know or suspect that he was terminally ill until the week of the film's premiere. For two years we had been shooting. He was scheduled to attend the premiere but was in the hospital undergoing tests. In fact, he was under a great deal of stress about revealing his secret to the horse world for fear it was seriously damaging his career. But he felt that if helped others avoid his mistakes it was worth it. That may seem unbelievable to many who have never faced addiction but this level of service to others and of faith is a hallmark of many who have had a prolonged recovery.

Someone else posted that his motivation for revealing his story must be for money. Trip had no equity stake in the film nor was he paid any fee. MAD STU Media has fronted about $50,000 of in kind services and $10,000 in hard costs to create the documentary. Trips motivation was to save someone else from the same pain. My goals for making the film are to help others, to further my career goal of making documentaries that help people and to recoup my costs over the life of the film- in that order.

Another post reads, “I can say with a 90% assurance that Trip's money helped keep him out of jail. A poorer person caught doing the same thing would not be able to afford the really good lawyers that can work a deal.”

I think this is one of the miracles of Trip’s story: his attorney was actually court-appointed. He had no money at the time of his arrest and was forced to borrow from others to keep his utilities paid while he sat in jail. How could this be? Because he spent as much as he made each month, His spending was part of his addiction. While we state that he was “born a rich kid with a shot at the Olympics,” he had already spent his family’s inheritance as a young man.

Trips court-appointed attorney, Elita Amato, is interviewed in the film. I think she comes across as the truly hard-working, compassionate person that she is: a remarkable woman. But it’s my belief that something greater than either Elita or Trip brought these two people together. Trip said many times in our interviews that people within his drug circle who faced similar charges paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to powerful attorneys who could only reduce their sentence slightly.

Ultimately, it was Trip’s final words to the judge that decided his fate. Trip never remembered what it was that he said until we showed him the transcript again on camera.

These inaccuracies and others throughout the posts are only natural and I provide this information to help fill in the gaps for people. I’m confident that the record will be set straight when people have a chance to see the DVD later in October.

In the meantime, if anyone has questions or comments I sincerely welcome them here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Riders debate Harting's morals addiction/drug dealing

A heated debate is underway on one of the leading message boards for horse riding between horse people who forgive Trip and those who condemn his actions. The exchange has grown into a discussion about addiction: More than 4-thousand people have visited so far: Chronicle of the Horse.

"...the man was not just a drug addict, he was a major dealer, a busted felon, and a
mule for the FBI. God knows how many people he personally introduced to a drug infested hell. Or killed. He actually brags about how much drugs he sold. Unbelievable.
So, he was a dressage judge, and that forgives it all?"


"... In the end he did the hard thing, to own up to his mistakes, share his personal struggles and failings with his family, friends, peers, and perfect strangers. I was impressed with his reason in the documentary for sharing all the "dirt" in his earlier be at peace with his higher power.
He could not have known at the time of his documentary that he would pass on at such a young age. That each of us would have such an meet our higher power with a clean conscience ...'If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone...' "


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"Trip to Hell and Back" is slated for Chicago fest

Chicago Filmmakers has selected Trip to Hell and Back for this year's Reeling film festival. Dates and times are TBA. Reeling Chicago is one of the largest LGBT festivals in the United States and the second oldest LGBT film festival in the world. The complete line-up of films will be officially announced the week of September 22st. "It's a great honor to be chosen and I'm sure Trip Harting would have been pleased to hear that his message will have such a large audience," says the film's director, Stu Maddux

Monday, September 8, 2008

Harting's memorial set for October 26th in LA

Friends of Trip Harting have announced a memorial service to be held October 26th in Los Angeles. The event will be held at
The Village at Ed Gould Plaza in Hollywood and will be followed by a gathering for food and drink in the courtyard and a screening of the film documenting his life, "Trip to Hell and Back."
The hope is to celebrate Trip's life the way he asked: with a gathering of friends and colleagues across the span of his life and in the many different areas that were so important to him be it professionally as a horseman, with family and friends and in recovery.

Those who cannot make the memorial service at 1pm please feel free to join us outside afterwards at 1:45 in the courtyard for food and conversation and the screening that will follow at 2:30.

Please come to see how much one man did to help others.

Date: Sunday October 26th, 2008 Time: 1pm-
The Village at Ed Gould Plaza 1125 N. McCadden Pl. Los Angeles, CA 90038

Monday, September 1, 2008

Photos Show Harting's love for his animals

Friend and well known photographer Tim Courtney took some of the last photos of Trip Harting. He has just released them on his website and is inviting us to take a look. Not surprisingly, Trip wanted to be photographed with his dogs, Phantom, Gidget and Eidel. They have each found wonderful new homes since his passing on August 22.

I'm sure that one of these photos will be the centerpiece for the memorial service. We are very close to choosing a date for the memorial sometime in late October here in Los Angeles. The blog will have details in the next few days.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Screenings and DVD to continue with help

Stu Maddux and Trip Harting July 8th, 2008

I've received a great many emails from people wondering about this film now that Trip has passed away.
We will continue as before to get it seen as much as possible. At the time of his illness we had just started with our first screening. The screenings page of the website is updated regularly and we are currently waiting for other festivals to notify us of their decision.

When Trip said goodbye to me he made a point of asking that we continue getting it out there. As an independent film that takes a lot of resources on top of our costs of making the film.

If you know of anyplace that would like a screening, please let me know. I'm more than willing to be there myself to share details of the story.

If you know of organizations or individuals that would be interested in purchasing a DVD, please let me know. We are creating the "extra" materials for that right now as time and resources permit and are hoping for completion in about a month.

If you provide a service and are willing to volunteer just one hour of your time, we would be grateful. You would be surprised at the need for everything from old frequent flyer miles to legal services, web design, rides to the airport, places to stay- it runs the gamut no matter your talent. Someone volunteered to bake cookies once. It helped us raise money for DVD duplication!

Contact Stu Maddux

Friday, August 22, 2008

Riders react to Harting's passing

People within the dressage community are reacting to Trip's passing. Here are some of the links to those bulletin boards. You may have to refresh the pages as the postings come in.

Thank you for taking on Trip's documentary and ultimate legacy. He was such a special person. Lois has been keeping us updated. How terribly difficult for you all. From those of us who counted him as a friend, thank you for making certain he was surrounded by love.


Roberta Williams

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Harting dies peacefully in his home among friends

It's with great sadness I write that Trip Harting died this afternoon at about 4pm in his home in Los Angeles. As the time drew near, close friends gathered around him and stayed at his bedside for the final moments. He was surrounded by an enormous amount of love.
Two of his closest friends Lori Lauver, and Lois Yukins, will be handling the arrangements for services.
Donations to go towards a memorial service and his medical bills are being asked for and cane be made to:
Delora Lauver,
DVM Community Veterinary Center
10617 Burbank Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91607
And I hope that you will leave your comments and thoughts about Trip here on what has become his website, to continue it as a living tribute.
When Trip brought me into his room to say goodbye he said that he was so proud of what we had done together and hoped the documentary would help many people for years to come.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Harting's condition deteriorates rapidly

I am not sure how much longer Trip will be with us. The cancer has caused him to eat and drink so little that his doctors now think it will be a matter of days at most before he leaves us. I spend most of my day now at his home and with other friends who have taken on the task of caring for him. Lori Lauver, DVM (the woman who has trained with him for the past seven years) has cleared out her appointments this week to stay with him 24/7.

His executor Jim Alburg and close friend Lois Yukins are coming in over the next 24 hours.

It is with some uneasiness that I sit here at his dining room table updating this blog. This morning it was time to go through dozens of his emails and fashion a reply to everyone. Still, there is a lot of caring from friends going on here. I could only hope for the same.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Harting discovers he faces terminal illness

Hello everyone:

I'm Stu Maddux the director of Trip to Hell and Back.
You may have noticed that Trip's blog entries stopped abruptly before the premiere. That is because he never made it to the screening. Trip was in a hospital bed in Los Angeles the night of the documentary's premiere was diagnosed with stage four cancer of the liver. It was clear very quickly that his time was very limited. Doctors predicted that he would have three months to live at the most.

In typical Trip fashion, he insisted on keeping the news quiet even to those close friends who had gathered in Providence, RI for the premiere. As these pictures everyone had just learned how serious the situation was. All we could do was call him from the theater with congratulations.

The timing is a confirmation to him of his faith in a higher power.

While the news that he had 3 months left to live came the day he had worked towards for the past two years; it also happened only two days after his probation ended. Two events that have become very important in his life. The coincidences are frustrating to say the least but to him indicate a journey that is beginning.

Unfortunately, his condition has been deteriorating so much more rapidly than anyone expected. And it's not until today that I have been able to write about it here. It is likely that he has weeks left rather than months. Regardless, his faith and acceptance does not seem to waiver.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Trip Harting ponders friends before premiere of his biography

It's hard to believe that in just five days the premiere that all of us have been waiting for will become a reality. I really didn't start becoming excited about this event until yesterday, when I finally had a moment of clarity.

For so long, I've been accepting the fact that this is my story that is being told. But yesterday, I realized that it is so much more than that. It is the story of my dearest friend Lois, and what love and friendship is all about and what she went through during this entire ordeal.

It is the story of Elita whose dedication to her career and her amazing belief and trust in me that she went to extraordinary lengths to show the court that I would be of greater benefit to the community by not sending me to prison.

And, it is the story of Stu, my good friend and director, who saw something of value in this part of my life that he was willing to dedicate over two years of his own life in bringing it to the screen.

It's no wonder that everyone is excited about the upcoming Premier. It's not often that our lives and actions are brought to a reality that can be shared and impact others to do the same.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Probation ends for Trip Harting

Today was a very important day for me, as it is my first day free from government supervision. To the day, my ordeal began 5 years ago, and it ended yesterday, Sunday the 27th. I very much wanted to spend my first day of "freedom" with the person who, more than anyone, kept me from going to prison.

My court-appointed attorney Elita Amato

As I was taking the Metro to meet Elita for lunch, I spent most of the time thinking about when we first met, how I felt when I first met her that day in court for my arraignment, our subsequent meetings in prison, and after my release. How she drove all the way to Philadelphia to be my "date" when I was made a "Legend" in my profession, how she spent an entire afternoon with me driving around where I grew up when I came back to DC to fix my mom's house up so it could be sold. And the most important thing she said to me, "Trip, the Court knows you're a criminal, and that's all they know. What we need to do is to show them that there is an entirely different side to you...another life." It was that single statement that had more impact on me personally than anything else that Elita said to me. And the results of that statement impacted the judge to the point that he decided not to send me to prison.

At the time of my arrest, I was in a strange city, I had no money, no friends. The Court had to appoint a Public Defender to represent me, and that was Elita. I would never, ever been able to find or get a better attorney, even if I had all the money in the world. And I know that it was no "luck" that brought us together.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Countdown to Premiere Begins

What a day today has been! I've officially started the countdown trip for the premiere in Providence. Flew to Lexington, VA via Charlotte today where I'll be here until Sunday evening when I go to Washington, DC to see my friends and family, and celebrate my "freedom" from my Government's "supervision" of my life on the 28th. Appropriately, I will be spending my first day with the woman who saved my life, Elita Amato, my lawyer who was picked for me. Then Tuesday night, I fly back to LA for about 7 hours of sleep before catching a flight to Travers City, MI for a four day show. Then on to Boston where I'll stay with my darling Lois, and start getting super nervous about the screening Thursday evening! Thank goodness I don't have any time between now and then to think much about it...but I suppose that will change once I get to Boston. We're going to drive down to Providence on Thursday.... This is a killer trip physically, but not only do I absolutely LOVE my work, but, more importantly, I'm beyond grateful that I can still do it. For awhile there, I thought I never would.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The scene Trip found most interesting

Today, someone asked me which of the scenes we did was the most interesting. Without question, it was the scene in the kitchen where I re-created the weighing and bagging of the "drugs".

Earlier, we had discussed what we could use that looked realistic. I'm embarassed to say that my suggestions were terrible. So, when I walked into the kitchen that morning, I was stunned! There, on the table, were the very drugs I used to sell. I was more than stunned. I said, "What is that?" and when they told me, I burst out laughing. It was so real looking that it totally fooled me!! And the more I handled it, the more it behaved like the real thing. I couldn't keep a straight face, and we had to shoot more than several times to get me to be serious. Here I was re-creating the very thing that got me into this mess in the first place, and it was all perfectly harmless. And, on top of it, I couldn't resist taking little tastes of it (like I did with the real thing) only this was soooo much better! It was rock candy!!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Trip To Hell And Back gets new website

I've just spent the past 30 minutes looking at the new website for the Documentary. First of all I'm overwhelmed by the professionalism of the site. But personally, it was hard for me. I know that life is all about perspectives, but it's so very hard for me to look at this site and see myself in the light that it's being presented. I just don't see myself like that, but I know that others do. It's so strange for me.

For a brief moment, I thought, "What have I done to myself?" but I made a quick adjustment and reminded myself not only why I agreed to do this film, but, more importantly, that I turned this entire project over to my Higher Power, and everything will be just fine.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Today, Stu asked me if there were any horse organizations that he (or I) could contact about the upcoming premiere. Truthfully, I'm not comfortable enough with things that I want to do that.

I'm just not sure how forgiving the horse community would be even at this point.
I surrendered that decision a long time ago. I'm just not ready to actively let my peers know of my disease yet, and all that went before. If others want to, I won't and can't stop them.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I went to the RIIFF's website today, and found the entry for the documentary. For the first time, I realized that this really IS happening, that it's very real, and that there's no turning back. Until I read that entry, I guess I was still keeping my secret. I wish I could tell how I feel about "coming out" like this...