A Shepherd University student is telling the story of addiction through the art of film making. His latest film is called Dr. J & Mr. H.
What started out as Austin Susman’s senior capstone project turned into something much more.
“I started thinking about alcoholism, which made me think about addiction, which made me think about addiction, which made me think of the current issue of opioid and heroin abuse in West Virginia,” said Shepherd University senior Austin Susman.
After eight months of research, Susman tells the story of the fictional Dr. Henry Jeffries.
The film is loosely based on Robert Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Susman said that, in many ways, the character of Dr. Henry Jeffries in his film is not only a representation of one addict, but a metaphor for the state itself during this crisis.
“It’s all over the socioeconomic spectrum, so I think it’s very far-reaching, and it’s reaching all types of people,” said Susman.
Susman’s advisor said one of the most rewarding parts of the project is watching how far he has come over the course of a semester.
“[He went] from a blueprint to a production that people can watch and enjoy,” said Chair of Communication, Shepherd University, Jason McKahan.
Susman said that watching the piece come to life is his favorite part of the process.
“My favorite thing about this project is just seeing it come together and seeing it come together a little bigger than what I’m used to,” said Susman.
The premiere will be held at the Shepherdstown Opera House at 131 West German Street on Wednesday, April 12.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the film begins at 7:00 p.m. The event is open to the public, and admission is free.