Director Bridget Smith Talks About Educating Through Sno Babies [Exclusive Interview]

Bridget Smith is the director of the upcoming film, Sno Babies. A story based on the research gathered of what is a heroin addict. The film was composed from compiled testimonies of former heroin addicts, law enforcement and medical staff to keep its credibility.

Here is the synopsis of the film:

A gripping and emotive tale, Sno Babies depicts the grim realities of addiction and its effects on a middle-class suburban town. Kristen and Hannah are best friends–smart, likable and college-bound– and also addicted to heroin. The pair of seemingly unlikely addicts spiral down a path of destruction, hiding their secret from well-meaning but busy parents behind pink bedrooms and school uniforms. Directed by Bridget Smith and starring Katie Kelly (Game of Silence), Paola Andino (Queen of the South), Michael Lombardi (Rescue Me), Evangeline Young (The Good Wife) and Joanne Baron (This Is Us), Sno Babies shows how easy it can be to both miss and hide the signs of addiction behind the façade of “good” neighborhoods and pleasant, busy communities.

I had the opportunity to discuss Sno Babies with Bridget Smith. She shared her experience in doing the research for the film, directing and casting. Full interview below:

Nancy Tapia: I had a chance to talk to the gals about Sno Babies.

Bridget Smith: I heard!

Nancy Tapia: They were great! I shared with to them that I feel like the film educated me.

Bridget Smith: Yeah?

Nancy Tapia: A lot of that credit is thanks to you as the director of  Sno Babies.

Bridget Smith: Thank you so much! It’s actually so great to hear you say that. If you ask me what my number one goal was, it’s exactly that. It’s to educate and raise awareness. That was kind of the goal from the beginning, without a doubt.

Nancy Tapia: I’ll be very honest, when it comes to drug addictions, you become very ignorant. You just become judgmental, and just casually refer to it as a drug addict.

Bridget Smith: Yeah, I know.

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Nancy Tapia: From this film I learn a lot. One of the things that I found interesting was how the gals actually covered the beginning of addiction. Starting with Oxy and the cost of a pill being $80 and the reason they lead on to heroin being $10 bag.

Bridget Smith: Yeah, I know. When I started this, I didn’t have 80% of the knowledge I have now. I read the script. I was like, “Wow, this is so powerful. It’s a great script, great story, great characters.” And then I started getting kind of sucked into all the research. Talking with recovering addicts, with experts, and the whole script started to take on a new shape. It became very, detailed. I think what people will be surprised to learn is that so many of those little details were told to us by recovering addicts. We literally took those details and put them into our film because the authenticity of it all just really works to tell the story and definitely gives it credibility. Because if not, we’d be fraudulent. You know what I mean? You had to get it right.

People would be shocked to know the amount of research that went into this. How much truth. It’s not based on one true story, it’s inspired by many. Down from Kristen (Katie Kelly) scraping those little heroin baggies trying to get every last drop. That was told to us by a 22-year-old woman who was a heroin addict at 16. From a good suburban home, two-parent family, and did it right in her bedroom, under her parents’ nose. She told us about having to hide the needle marks in all the places. That type of detail really makes the film more powerful, in my opinion.

Sno Babies
Katie Kelly as Kristen and Paola Andino as Hannah

Nancy Tapia: Yeah, I was impressed when it was covering the hiding area of the needle marks. Including some very sensitive female areas where I’m just like, “No way!”

Bridget Smith: I know!

Nancy Tapia: It felt so painful!

Bridget Smith: I know! It’s hard to imagine, right? But it’s so common and you can understand the reason. The way addicts are often depicted in movies, it’s hard to identify sometimes. A lot of times you miss who these people are before they’re an addict on the street with track marks on your arm, which is what you’re so used to seeing. I think when people look at these two girls from good homes… Everybody comes from somewhere. They’re not their addiction, and I think we forget that. Like you said, people tend to be judgmental. I’m sure I was before I did this movie. I’ve grown my awareness and I’m so happy to hear you say that.

Nancy Tapia: Yes, I’ll be honest I was one of those people before this film.

Bridget Smith: Thank you.

Nancy Tapia: No shame there. That’s what your film has done.

Bridget Smith: Yeah, right.

Nancy Tapia: Their were other scenes that were quite strong. There was one where Kristen’s character is going through this process just for a drug urine test.

Bridget Smith: Oh, yeah!

Nancy Tapia: So this is how it happens?

Bridget Smith: Yeah, that was told to us. We had talked to an addict who was strip-searched and actually told us about the different ways. They gave us that little piece of information about hiding a vial of urine. The writer actually took that from talking to an addict. Like you, I was also taken back when I was first told that story.

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Nancy Tapia: Yeah, I thought the spreading butt cheeks was only done in jail as part of being incarcerated because of the films. But not for a urine drug testing!

Bridget Smith: Right, I know. We also were very fortunate casting a couple of these roles was very intentional. The woman who played the cop, she’s actually a former Philly police officer. So she brought so much realism to that scene and contributed so much that I actually let her take the lead in that scene. I simply thought, “Well, I just need to come up with really amazing, powerful, compelling shots to sell this, but I’m going to follow her lead.” And she did. I did the same with the paramedic.

I’m not a medical expert. Corrie Graham, who was brilliant, she’s the paramedic. Those two roles, you think, “Well, they’re cameo roles.” They’re huge! They’re huge because they both brought authenticity to situations that casting in those cases was pivotal because, again, they brought a realism and an authenticity. I would’ve had to have experts on set telling me what happens. I kind of let them lead the scene and I worked with my DP to get the shots. So I owe them a lot of thanks.

Nancy Tapia: Now that you bring it up the cast, how did you know Katie and Paola were the right duo?

Bridget Smith:  Well, interestingly enough, Katie came in for the role of Hannah. At the time, we were in talks with the names. I say name talents, but actresses who had a lot of managers and agents pushing for them. Katie came in for Hannah, and I couldn’t get her off my mind.  I said to Mike, who was the writer/producer, “I got Katie Kelly on the brain. My gut’s screaming she’s our Kristen.” Mike felt the same way. You just know it. You just know it in your gut and you have to trust it at times. So we went with it, she was our Kristen.

It’s just one of those rare situations where you just have that. I had that Kristen role so strong in my head. When she came in everything about her just screamed Kristen at me, everything. Emotionally, the way she even auditioned for Hannah, her look. She looked like a baby, she was 17 when she auditioned and 18 when she shot it. She just wasn’t afraid to go to those dark places. In fact, I think Katie prefers it, to be honest. She loves getting down and getting dirty, and really throwing herself full-heartedly into it and that showed. That screamed through.

For Paola, she came in for Hannah after I cast Katie. Did they tell you that story?

Nancy Tapia: No…

Bridget Smith: Oh, that was a good one! Paola was submitted for Hannah. You’re talking about thousands of actresses. I go through thousands because I do my own casting and she just jumped out at me. I fell in love with her. My God, she had a sweetness and a vulnerability that I needed for Hannah because Hannah could’ve so easily just been an obnoxious teenager. I couldn’t stomach that and that’s kind of what I was afraid of. Well, in comes Paola and I just fell in love with her. I called up Katie and said, “Listen. I’m really close to casting Hannah, and I just want to give you the heads-up because your relationship is crucial in the film, and I’m going to want you guys to connect, and I’m about to offer this role.” And she said, “Can you tell me who it is?” And I said, “An actress by the name of Paola Andino.” And Katie goes, “She’s my best friend.”

Sno Babies
Kelly Andino as Kristen and Paola Andino as Hannah

Nancy Tapia: What?!

Bridget Smith: Haha…and she said, “Go look on my Instagram.” And I went on the Instagram, and there they were. And I was like, “No way.” I was like, “Are you kidding me?” She’s like, “No.” It made sense because they were submitted by the same team, the same manager. Lots of people are submitted by the same agencies.

Nancy Tapia: Right.

Bridget Smith: They don’t know each other. I was just blown away. Needless to say, those two on set and their chemistry and just everything about them, the whole experience was beautiful with those two. We were crazy close. It was just a nice team. It was there, it was inherently there.

Nancy Tapia: That’s hilarious! You saw the chemistry! Haha…

Bridget Smith: Yeah, it’s hilarious. Yeah. I love it because I was like, “What? Haha…It’s meant to be!”

Nancy Tapia: Well, thank you so much, Bridget for your time.

Bridget Smith: Thank you.

Nancy Tapia: And thank you for making a film that is going to educate others just like it educated me.

Bridget Smith: Oh, well thank you so much. That is literally the ultimate compliment. I truly, truly appreciate that.

Nancy Tapia: You nailed it!

Bridget Smith: Thank you so much.

Nancy Tapia: You’re welcome. You take care, and good luck with Sno Babies.

Bridget Smith: Thank you so much. Great talking to you.

Sno Babies will be available in VOD September 29th

Source: LRM Online Exclusive

 

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Nancy Tapia

Nancy Tapia has been an interviewer for LRM and Latino-Review Media since 2011. Currently a member of the Hollywood Critics Association. Former UCLA Bruin specializes in Management. Covering entertainment has been an unexpected lively journey. Always open to the next, new experience. From solo traveling to adding a new peak to her personal 100 Hike Challenge. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @inancytapia

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