Friday, April 14, 2017

"Road Back" Documentary by Director Vincent Brantley Takes a Hardcore Look at Heroin Addiction

Director Vincent Brantley gives viewers a raw and unapologetic look at the struggle of drug addition, through the eyes of an alcoholic and heroin addict in his sophomore effort, "Road Back." Shot in the style of a cinema vérité, the songwriter-turned-director held a private screening of the documentary with filmmakers and industry influencers during Oscar weekend at Raleigh Studios in Los Angeles, garnering positive responsesbefore its run on the film festival circuit. The private screening was sponsored by Intermountain Healthcare, a not-for-profit health system, based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

"Road Back" is a powerful documentary, shining a light on the struggles of heroin addiction by capturing the real life friendship of best friends Wendell Justice and Tom Olson. The two men take viewers on a turbulent journey to sobriety.

Like most families in America, Brantley has grappled with substance abuse within his own family; and his life experiences served as the impetus for filming "Road Back."  Shot on location in Utah and California for more than a year, the "Road Back" is a story of love, a story of life, a story of friendship and a story of triumph. With no definitive beginning or end, the film exposes the daily realities of two friends who walk the road of addiction and recovery together.

"Each day, nearly 600 people -- under the age of 25 -- try heroin, and become addicted," said Brantley. "No addict wants to be an addict. And the people closest to them don't understand an addict's urge to take drugs." Brantley hopes viewers will gain better understanding of substance abuse as a chronic illness, if they can see it through the eyes of an addict. "Road Back" is an up close and personal account (sometimes nasty) – of one man's fight to be clean, and another man's fight to stay clean.


"Road Back" | 83 minutes | movie synopsis

"Road Back" is an astounding story told through the lens of director Vincent Brantley, giving viewers an unapologetic and raw look into the struggle of drug addiction through the friendship between two unlikely friends. Tom Olson is a well-to-do White executive, and a recovering alcoholic from Salt Lake City, Utah. And Wendell Justice is a Black barber and heroin addict from the mean streets of Bakersfield, Calif.

"Road Back" courageously takes viewers behind the door of the user – that is, injecting, snorting and smoking "smack" -- showcasing the ugliness of a heroin drug addition as Justice tries to beat it.The doc reveals how drugssidelined Justice's promising career as a celebrity barber, and how he ended up serving 17 years in prison for drug-related crimes.  Now paroled, Justice struggles to make a fresh start and shake his appetite for the dope. In telling Justice's story in the "Road Back," the director cleverly incorporates vintage footage of his arrest as well as in-depth interviews with friends and family. As Justice stares down the possibility of sobriety, it's Olson who offers him a lifeline of support and compassion.

"Road Back" takes viewers inside the heart of these two men, humanizing both addicts, and understanding their inner pain and challenges of wanting to be sober and actually staying sober.

To view the trailer of "Road Back," visit

For more about the film, visit

About Tom Olson (Executive Producer)

Tom Olson, raised in Salt Lake City, Utah where he learned early on the value of hard work from his father, Les Olson, the founder of the Les Olson Company. It is the largest distributor of Sharp products, and one of the most successful companies in that region. Olson's sales and management abilities led him to become one the company's top executives. Still, having a successful career in his family's company didn't protect Olson from his addition to alcohol. Like many Americans nationwide, he's battled alcoholism most of his entire life. Olson serves as the executive producer of "Road Back." The doc offers insight into the affects of his addiction on family and friends as well as his attempts to save his friend's life, battling with heroin. Olson is also the founder of the Good Time Golf League, which mentors individuals trying to stay sober.

About Wendell Justice
Wendell Justice, as a kid brought up in the tough streets of Bakersfield California dreamed of being one of the best barbers in the country.  Justice mentored under local barbers, and later graduated from both barber and cosmetology school. He quickly gained the reputation as a celebrity barber, cutting the hair of many Utah Jazz NBA players. But surprisingly, local barber shops attracted an element of crime, and hidden behind Justice's charismatic smile and fast talk was an addiction trigger. Derailing his promising career, Justice spent 17 years in prison for drug-related crimes. Upon release from prison, he wanted a fresh start. Years earlier, he met Tom Olson at a treatment center, and re-connected, only to find that the two still had a bond. The "Road Back is also Justice's story as he tries to survive heroin addition with a lifeline from one friend who understands his struggle.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR | Vincent Brantley
Vincent Brantley is an accomplished singer, songwriter, musician and music producer who gained major recognition after co-writing and producing the platinum-selling, hit single, "Cool It Now," by Boston based boy band, New Edition.  The song was the group's second #1 hit on the R & B (Black singles) charts, and the first Top 10 single on the pop charts. "Cool It Now," was recently featured in BET's highly-rated mini series, "The New Edition Story."

Brantley has garnered more than 50 awards and commendations for songwriting, producing and performing on a plethora of albums with major recording artists both domestic and foreign.  Brantley transitioned into filmmaking with his debut romantic comedy, "Hopelessly In June," a feature film, written, directed, produced and starring Brantley. The cast includes Keith David, Ella Joyce, Ed Asner, Tiny Lister, Jr., and newcomer Carolyn Neff.  "Hopelessly In June" was selected by eight film festivals in the United States and Canada, winning Best Comedy Feature Filmat the Garden State Film Festivalin New Jersey and can be seen on Netflix,Amazon, Wal-Mart and Red Box.

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