Jack Smith (Noah Mills) seems to have it all. He’s handsome, like a print ad model from a high-end glossy magazine. He’s stylish, in that black and white, minimal way that screams money and good genes. He has means enough to engage in retail therapy at Dolce and Gabbana. And he’s got a lovely girlfriend, Amber Leahy (Roxy Olin).
Chomping down prescription drugs (Adderall, Ritalin, Vicodin, and Viagra) like what used to be called nickel candy, he’s resembles a kid romping through his effortless, hipster lifestyle in the playground of Los Angeles. The story spans the course of one day. We know nothing of Jack except that he seems to be a success. He’s in the movie business, he takes a meeting, and he breaks down a script. To judge by initial appearances, he’s having the time of his life. As a matter of fact, his lifestyle is more a charade than a game and, as we soon find out, Jack is not a winner, not by a long stretch. He’s more a holy mess.
Daedalus: Candyland- a metaphor of the lack of reality as a consequence of drug use?
Jouri Smit: The idea behind Candyland, is the obsession with manually manipulating your moods and reality, it gives the illusion of control just before its spirals out of it.
D: Does the temporal rhythm of the film somehow resemble that of the nervous system?
J.S: Yes the music, heart beat and the frame rates, mirror the internal experience, you are in essence getting inside the main characters head, showing you what the effect of the pills and addiction are, a very limited awareness of your surroundings, placing you in a bubble.
D: What is the relationship with the dimensions of the city and of the subject represented?
J.S: I wanted to paint the picture that many people I know that use these substances are quite successful and the glamour of LA is adding to that. Also the color palate changes, from bright yellows, and orange glows when all is good, to a more blue-ish-gray palate, illuminating getting by, to the red indicating danger.
D: What is the consequence of feeling the language of your body speak louder than all the other curcumstances and individuals around ?
J.S: The danger of these substances is that you are mixing uppers and downers, pulling your body and mind in opposite directions, without being able to experience it because of the painkillers masking the true effect of the drugs. You might feel hyper aware but that’s the trap because of course you are under the influence, limiting your perception.
D: It appears like the pharmacy is rapresented as having some sort of aura around it or ritualistic attribution to it, is it so?
J.S: Not necessarily ritualistic, although in the world of the addict it could be experienced that way, the function of the pharmacy is this constant search for the next hit, and that these are prescription drugs, obtained legally with the blessing of the medical society at large.
D: The image of the shouting is in contraposition with a very mellow melodic music what is the objective of this?
J.S: It’s symbolic for the body and the soul screaming for help, as he is in pain, from the addiction but mostly from the depression and emotional turmoil he is trying to mask. The body screams, he screams, but the outside world has no idea of what’s really going on with him, as it’s all subdued. How would anyone even be able to see whats going on with him, it all seems perfect but in reality he’s a mess.
D: Would you say the issue tackled in this short film is only alive in the states or it is a problem that is common in other countries around the world?
J.S: Its definitely more common in the US at the moment, prescription deaths are among the leading causes of deaths at the hands of drugs, more then all the other drugs combined, like XTC, Cocaine or Heroin. But it is a phenomenon that’s spreading into Europe and other places as well.
D: What is the correlation between fashion and the pharmacy?
J.S: It’s a problem that’s very present in the fashion world that’s the link between the two, its prevalent amongst youth for sure, but also amongst adults in high-energy industries like fashion, film, and Wall Street.
D: Aderall and Viagra?
J.S: The Viagra is more because at this point in the film, he has no more control over his body, and all functions are at the mercy of the stimulants.
D: What is the tragedy of the ending?
J.S: The tragedy is that the drugs mask all the warnings of that something is horribly wrong, for himself as well as the world around him, and that its mostly discovered when its too late, a death come too soon.
The cumulative effect is one of watching a stranger self-destruct before our eyes. It’s chilling, this downward spiral, especially the ending, but it also suggests the unfortunate way we visually evaluate someone’s trajectory by appearances and have no idea what’s really going on. How can you help someone if nothing seems to be wrong?