In May of 2016, Keith Schnabel and I began work on our first feature-length film – an intimate look at the heroin epidemic in our homes, Bay and Saginaw Counties. We just didn’t know it, yet. McLaren Bay Region had contracted us to create short, educational films for local schools. The project happened to involve interviewing medical professionals with first-hand experience dealing with the heroin epidemic. In the process, we realized that people we knew from the community had been hurt by this crisis. So we kept digging. With assistance from friend and filmmaker Sammi Schenkel, we formally interviewed nearly twenty people, with law enforcement, press, medical professionals, educators, and numerous personal accounts of addiction. There was simply too much to tell about the crisis’ impact on our community in just a few short videos. This had to be a feature.
Still, I’m not sure any of us knew how to tell this story for quite a while. It wasn’t until late into production, after having spoken with a number of people in recovery, that we recognized the key to unraveling this epidemic: stigma. The amount of public shaming our interviewees dealt with was horrifying and only served to feed their isolation and illness. Educators, law enforcement, and medical professionals all seemed to agree that stigmatizing addiction was counterproductive at best. Thus, our film and title, “Stigmatic: Our Opioid Crisis,” was born.
To defeat the opioid epidemic, we must defeat stigma. Our hope is that Stigmatic will not only illuminate the suffering that opioid addiction and its stigma have inflicted on our community, but highlight the efforts our neighbors have taken to solve it.
– Meet the team behind Stigmatic –
Garret Morgan (Director, Editor, Producer) is a detail-oriented editor, cinematographer, motion graphics artist, and journalist with 7 years of experience editing and directing. His projects have been recognized by East Lansing Film Festival, Made-in-Michigan Film Festival, as well as Hell’s Half Mile Film & Music Festival and been the recipient of The Democracy Commitment’s Bernie Ronan Award. He is an alumnus of Garber High School and Delta College. Garret has helmed a number of short films, educational media, and documentaries. Safe Journey, his most recent work co-created with Keith Schnabel alongside Stigmatic is currently in circulation throughout a handful of schools across Bay County. Garret currently resides in Big Rapids, MI, where he is attending Ferris State University for his Bachelors in Television and Digital Media Broadcasting.
Keith Schnabel (Writer, Associate Producer, Journalist) is a creative in the realm of education and politics raised in Bay County, MI. He is an alumnus of Garber High School and Saginaw Valley State University. Keith has been writing and producing video content professionally since high school. He is a frequent collaborator of Garret’s, having worked with him on dozens of short films, documentaries, and sketches. Keith has also starred in numerous short films which screened in Michigan film festivals. As a union kid, he was a Field Organizer and Regional Digital Lead during the 2016 presidential election (for the one who lost). Now, he researches, writes, and produces educational content in Chicago. He also bakes a mean vegetarian quiche.
Sammi Schenkel (Associate Producer, Public Relations) is a multi-faceted filmmaker who specializes in producing. Originally from Frankenmuth, she has volunteered for Hell’s Half Mile since the age of 15, learning the ins and outs of festival organization and making Bay City a home away from home. She and Garret met while attending Delta College, and Keith while producing Fate, a 2015 short film. Sammi enjoys being a part of the Tri-County roller derby community and acting at haunted houses. She has been involved in documentaries on indie bands, volunteered at improv clubs, and produced a current event live cable access talk show.
Wagner Koop (Composer) is a musician and filmmaker living in Michigan. He has been producing original music since 2010 and met the rest of the Stigmatic crew while attending Delta College. Since then, he has become an alumnus of Delta College and Ferris State University with an educational focus on both media broadcasting and production for television and digital media. He has worked alongside Garret and Keith previously, composing and producing music for other projects. Wagner is looking forward to finding more large-scale projects to compose for, such as more documentaries, films, short films, and video games. Alongside music composition and production, Wagner works as a post-production specialist with a focus on editing and color grading, as well as doing original animations and motion graphics work for commercial and non-profit organizations.