The filming started at Tewksbury Memorial High School. It could just as easily have been Stoneham High, or any of the thousands of suburban high schools across the United States.
Students played some of the roles. In the final scene, filmed at the Catholic church, parents and family members braved a snowstorm to appear as extras, holding portraits of their loved ones.
“If Only,” follows two high school students as they experiment, then become addicted to opioid drugs, prescription drugs taken from medicine cabinets.
The film is produced by Jim Wahlberg, brother to actor Mark Wahlberg, and directed by Michael Yebba. Jim Wahlberg’s son, Jeffrey, plays a leading role.
In a Lowell Sun article, Wahlberg said he chose Tewksbury as a filming location in part because of the devastating impact that opiate abuse has had in Massachusetts towns and cities.
“The numbers are just staggering, and I don’t know where the outrage is,” Wahlberg said. “We’re losing a whole generation of kids and I don’t hear the outrage. I don’t see it.”
On Tuesday evening, Sept. 20, “If Only” will show in Stoneham, and it could not be more timely, after a series of fatal drug overdoses in our town, the most recent, Stephen Doucette, age 23.
Thanks to Stoneham Theatre and the Coalition, which is hosting the 7 p.m. screening, anyone concerned about the epidemic of drug addiction can see the film. It’s not long, only 34 minutes. But its impact will be lasting.
Jim Wahlberg will introduce the film. Afterwards, the audience is invited to stay for a discussion with members of the Stoneham Coalition.
The film is tightly focused on the lives of teenagers. But it’s not only about addiction and its consequences. It is also about peer relationships, parenting, treatment and recovery.
As we become more aware, we learn how to talk about opioid abuse. We learn ways to safeguard our children, and how to support those seeking recovery.
When we, as a community, know better, we do better.
The Stoneham community has an opportunity to “know better” on Sept. 20. The film producers ask that guests register online at Eventbrite, as seating is limited. Doors open at 6:30.
See you at the Theatre.