The 20-minute film was shot in Camden County this year and was commissioned by the New York Council on Problem Gambling. It will be shown on WGTE, a PBS station in Toledo, Ohio.
"The prospective audience is veterans themselves, and their loved ones who also are being negatively affected," Mariangela Milea, the council's assistant executive director, says from Albany, N.Y. "The film also has been picked up by a lot of treatment providers to show to clients."
The actors, four of whom are South Jerseyans, give strong performances. And Wilson's script rings true about the nature and consequences of addiction.
"What really excited me about this film from the get-go was the script," says actress Melissa Connell of Marlton. "It was well-written and believable, and wasn't trying to shove an agenda down your throat. It just shared this guy's journey."
I catch up with writer-director Wilson and two more of his collaborators at a Starbucks in Cherry Hill. Zach Ziegler, 27, is the film's star, and David Yeager, 47, contributed an essential perspective.
"I'm a U.S. Army veteran who struggled with gambling addiction," says Yeager, who self-published a book, Be Happy With Crappy, about gambling addiction and recovery. The Reading resident was treated at a Veterans Affairs clinic in Cleveland and credits the 12-step program of Gamblers Anonymous with helping maintain his recovery since June 18, 2007.
"I just pray this movie is seen by the right person at the right time," Yeager says.
Ziegler, who lives in Glenside, also is an Army veteran. While not a compulsive gambler, he knows the challenge of having to reenter the civilian world.
"This has been a year of drama and emotion in my life, so it was easy for me to put my emotions into the role," says Ziegler. When not acting, he's a singer-songwriter - his tune called "Time Heals All?" is on the film's soundtrack - as well as a Temple University history major.
"I wrote this [film] with Zach in mind," says Wilson, noting the intensity Ziegler brought to earlier OutreachArts productions.
I ask Wilson if he feels constrained by the educational format. Even if heavy-handedness is passe, such a film needs to offer information, direction, and inspiration.
Wilson, who acted and wrote plays while associated with the Ritz Theatre Company in Haddon Township during the 1980s and '90s, says he's "telling the same stories" with educational material as he did on stage. Family dramas, in other words.
"These are the stories I want to tell," he says. "We all suffer from something or other. There's a universal struggle that everybody feels."
Says Yeager, "You just hope that somebody's listening."
For more information, go to http://vimeo.com/97674961