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.