Urban student Will Hoppin (’18) decided to closely examine ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and the use of Adderall in what has morphed into a film that explores his own and others’ relationship with Adderall. The film, titled “Amphetateens,” is told from Hoppin’s perspective as someone who has been diagnosed with ADHD.
ADHD is a disease that affects 11 percent of children ages 4-17, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Adderall is commonly prescribed to patients with ADHD, and increases productivity, focus, and one’s ability to remain awake by altering the amount of natural substances in the brain. Hoppin interviewed various subjects who take Adderall, with the goal of eventually determining whether or not he should continue taking the drug. The film aimed to explore what it means to take Adderall in today’s culture by looking at the lives of teenaged subjects as well as recovering addicts.
The film is based upon interviews from a diverse group of subjects, including students from schools across the Bay Area, recovering Adderall addicts, and experts, who all provide different perspectives as to the effects of Adderall. Hoppin worked with his boss, Gary Yost, an award-winning cinematographer based in Marin to produce and direct the film. Yost assisted Hoppin in contacting many of the interview subjects featured in the film.
The movie is structured into three acts, with Act One introducing ‘Will’s Dilemma’ of whether or not to take Adderall, and whether he needs to take it in order to compete with his peers. Act Two delves into the subjects’ lives and the impacts of Adderall on their daily lives. Act Three shows alternative forms of ADHD treatment: meditation, teen groups, and biofeedback, a technique aimed at learning to control one’s bodily functions by using electrical sensors.
The interviews with his subjects are structured into five sections, each increasing in intensity. Hoppin began by asking about their ability to overcome obstacles and how Adderall influences one’s ability to do so. He then asked about concentration in terms of academics and the Internet. He asked about happiness and if they felt like their authentic self on Adderall, and concluded by asking the subjects about their level of dependence on Adderall.
In an interview with the Urban Legend, Hoppin discussed the importance of maintaining a balance between school work and creative work on his film.
“It can be quite stressful to balance [schoolwork and the film] at times, but I would not be true to myself if I let my schoolwork completely consume my passion…the motivation my boss gives me keeps the project moving forward. It really just comes down to what makes me happy, I find that when I do schoolwork first, I don’t have time for anything else. When I do my creative work first, everything just seems to make time for itself,” Hoppin said.
The film will be available to watch on October 15th, 2017 where it will be posted on Hoppin’s vimeo page.