Article By: Jacquelyn Herbert
Photographs Courtesy of: Liz Adams
What if evil came in a pill? What if the babysitter was the one taking it? Liz Adam’s award winning short film “Side Effect” asks just that as a babysitter is left alone to watch two kids on the eve of her new medication regimen. Liz exclaims, “I think many people would be shocked to learn that the pharmaceutical industry has created the term “homicidal ideation” to describe a side effect for some of their products.” And it’s true. The Food and Drug Administration has created the term for placement on antidepressant medications, which have, in a small percent of cases turned towards homicide.
Armed with this knowledge and an overactive imagination Liz scripted a feature length film revolving around the idea that evil could surface just from taking a pill. Liz says, “As a storyteller, I became fascinated with the idea that a medication could create an unintended side effect that would cause a normally non-violent person to murder a loved one. To me that is “true horror.” Scripting the feature length film, ‘Blood Level’ first, Liz then altered the first ten pages of the feature to make it a free standing short and went on to receive a grant from AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women allowing her to create the short film.
“I’ve been taking pictures and making up stories to go with them, and like a lot of kids I loved the movies. Even though I pursued photography and writing as hobbies it wasn’t until I was really considering a second career that I decided to follow my dreams and pursue becoming a filmmaker,” says Liz about her relatively new career direction. Originally Liz provided sales and marketing services to computing resources and nanotechnology industries until she decided to follow her dreams, resulting in the sale of her business to pursue filmmaking with all she had. “My husband, Terry, played a big part of that decision; he asked me, “If you could do ANYTHING, and you knew you couldn’t fail, what would it be?” For me the answer had to be making movies,” she says and with that Liz took to her dreams, “From the beginning I wanted to have a short film and a feature length script under my arm when I “went out” with the project. The best thing a short film can do for a new filmmaker’s career is to help leverage a feature length project, but you have to have that project ready to show or you can potentially lose any interest or momentum you’ve gained at the screenings for the short film.”
And receiving the AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women grant allowed her the chance to start pursuing those goals. Since then her goals and hard work have certainly paid off with her first short film winning seven awards and touring the festival circuit for almost two years, she has signed with a production company that’s currently seeking financial backing for the feature length project, ‘Blood Level’ which is essentially the continuation of her very successful short.
“Part of [the] attraction [to horror] comes from my fascination with the way the horror genre reflects back the collective nightmares of our society. I also find it very interesting how the changing subject matter of what is considered “horror” mirrors the changing fears and worries of our culture,” says Liz, and while horror isn’t the only genre she’s interested in, she’s also penned another script in which a man kills his way up the corporate ladder. Liz claims that she doesn’t want to stay within the confines of one particular genre as she dabbles a lot in comedy as well, “but my themes and tone tend to be bit dark,” she says and her audience will vouch for that based on the twist in the final minutes of Side Effect. And for all those fans, and the many more to come, now it’s just a waiting game as ‘Blood Level’ gears up and hopes to be in production by Spring 2010.
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