By SUZANNE STEWART
The Pocahontas Times
MARLINTON, W.Va. — He may be known for his recurring role on Criminal Minds or as a henchman in The Dark Knight Rises, but more importantly, Josh Stewart is known as a West Virginian.
Stewart grew up in Webster County and continues to hold his home state near and dear to his heart as he makes a name for himself as an actor, writer and director in Hollywood.
In between acting jobs, Stewart has been writing a script about the prescription opioid epidemic in West Virginia. Back Fork is the story of Waylon, who is struggling to hold his life and family together after a heartbreaking tragedy.
Like many people who suffer a tragedy and can’t see a way out, Waylon turns to prescription drugs to numb himself against the pain.
Stewart created a Kickstarter site asking for donations to fund the film, but the site revealed on Monday that Stewart had canceled the campaign – for a good reason.
Stewart posted a message explaining why the Kickstarter was canceled.
“I just want to say thank you to all of you that have made a pledge in helping to make Back Fork a reality,” he wrote. “I have some great news. I’m canceling the Kickstarter campaign because I’m finalizing financing for the film from a private investor. This movie is going to get made. I can’t release any details at the moment, but more to come very shortly.”
Although the campaign is closed, the website is still live and provides information on the premise of the film.
“My home state of West Virginia has been suffering from the prescription opioid epidemic for years,” he says. “I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been affected in some way – either directly or indirectly. This disease hasn’t passed over anyone. It has not discriminated. Journalists and documentarians have been bringing this plague to the forefront of our conversation for quite some time.
“Art has been used since the beginning of time to tell a story, to exemplify beauty, to document, to promote social change,” he continues. “It is time for me to make my contribution to furthering the conservation through film of this plague that continues to haunts us.”
Answering the question, “why ask for funding instead of funding the project yourself?” Stewart said it is harder to do than most people realize.
“The truth is, if I could, I would,” he says on the site. “I have been blessed to work as an actor since 2003. In the industry, I’m the equivalent of a working man. Financing an Independent feature can be unbelievably slow. The recep- tion of the script has been amazing, but the challenge is always finding the right company that is able to devote the required amount of time and resources to complete the project for very little, to zero pay. We all have to eat. That’s why Independent features are a labor of love. This is my labor of love…”
Stewart explains that he plans to film in West Virginia, where the story was born. While it is a fictional story with fictitious characters, the story of addiction in West Virginia is real.
“The story that I’m telling is fiction,” Stewart says. “I’ve made it all up, but these universal truths are real. This struggle is real. Addiction is very real and what’s happening with prescription opioids is truly an epidemic. I was born and raised in West Virginia. I know this land. I know the people and I know their stories. They are my home. I see this picture so clearly because I’ve lived with the truths in this film for years – some of them my whole life.”
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