A teen addict, haunted by a destructive past, finds love, hope and redemption at an unconventional recovery program for at-risk youth.
LEAF MATTHEWS, 17, wakes up in juvenile hall after a drug binge that caused him to accidentally overdose and get arrested. He’s released to his Mother and Grandmother who trick Leaf into thinking he’s simply going home. Once asleep in the back of the car, they lock the doors and drive Leaf to America’s House, a long-term residential rehab facility located in the mountains east of San Diego.
Leaf adamantly refuses treatment but when he discovers his clothes are in the back, he seemingly resigns, asking his Grandmother to pop the trunk. Leaf rummages through his bags, seizing a jacket with a bag of speed in the pocket
Rushing down the road, snorting up everything he can, Leaf becomes aware that this program is situated in the middle of nowhere. Miles from home, Leaf agrees to enter treatment but only if his little sister Autumn, stays with his Grandmother, and not his Mother. A violent argument ensues. Leaf spews hate at his Mother, inferring she’s unfit to be a parent and there’s no way Autumn will be alone with her. Leaf’s Mother caves. Autumn will stay with Grandma.
Leaf, high from the speed, gets “showered in” and meets the staff and residents of the program. Leaf is given the opportunity to introduce himself. Rather than say hello, Leaf verbally insults the group with profanity. The staff is quick to point out that this is Leaf’s new family and the girls in the program are to be treated like his sisters. “Would he treat his own sister with such disrespect?”
After detoxing, Leaf registers that this program is unlike any he’s experienced before. The chief difference is that his peers, all with troubled pasts of their own, seem to be bought into the program’s structure, and it’s working. They’re sober, back in school, employed, or enrolling in college.
In spite of this, Leaf vehemently rebels against everyone, but when Leaf’s grandmother unexpectedly dies, Leaf’s world is shaken to the core. Grandma’s final request was that Leaf completes the program, but his sister will now be going back home with his Mother. Something Leaf cannot let happen.
Will he leave, denying his Grandmother’s final wish or will he stay putting his sister’s life at risk? With only a month of sobriety under his belt Leaf must face his family’s tragic past in order to save his sister and himself.
Most films on addiction spend very little time on recovery. If they are about recovery they tend to only explore the first step: admitting they have a problem. They also tend to focus on the dark side of addiction and the struggles addicts face while using drugs. Marathon is a narrative feature film, based on a true story, which takes a new approach focusing on the drama of what happens when someone no longer has drugs and the underlying reasons why someone turns to drugs in the first place.
The material has been taken directly from Writer/Director Sky Soleil’s life. Growing up with a mentally ill and highly abusive mother, Sky turned to drugs for escape at the age of 12. Thankfully at 16, he went to Phoenix House – a national recovery center. After 18 months he completed the program, graduated high school, went on to college, received his masters and is currently celebrating his 22nd year of sobriety.
Sky stresses the incredible impact of living with kids around the same age with similar pasts and who were now sober and living life again. Besides the wonderful staff working for the program, there were 20 older residents, kids 14 to 18 years old who had been sober for 6 months and up. “That positive peer environment was key. It made me want to try.” Sky has also never seen some of the treatment methods he experienced first hand explored in a film. It was a unique time in the program’s history, as raw and real as any film about addiction, but set in an environment that propelled kids to face their pasts and overcome the obstacles that landed them there.
Ultimately, this film is about teenagers striving to reclaim their lives during treatment. The story begins with an intervention and examines what can happen when a troubled youth is placed in a positive peer environment dedicated to helping a lost individual get back on track.
Writer Director Sky Soleil
Sky Soleil is a southern California native and a graduate of the American Conservatory Theater MFA program. Sky is perhaps best known for his music video “Homeless Man Under Pressure” which he both directed and starred in. The inspiring video went viral within days of posting, collecting over two million views on Yahoo and YouTube, after which CNN, CBS, New York Magazine and the Huffington Post interviewed Sky to discuss the video’s unique social message. His television acting credits include NCIS, Criminal Minds and Brothers and Sisters. Sky also wrote and directed the award-winning Halloween themed family film How My Dad Killed Dracula. The short screened at over 30 film festivals worldwide and garnered Sky two “Best Family Film” awards, a “Best of Fest” award, and several “Audience Favorite” awards.
Producer Brooke Dooley
Brooke Dooley, a Northern California native, is the Executive Producer and Founder of Knox Avenue. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cinema from San Francisco State University and has produced over 70 productions including commercials, feature films, music videos and photo shoots. She creates, manages and communicates ideas across all platforms with budgets ranging from $5k to $1mil. She continues to attach herself to projects that stimulate a visceral chord with audiences, whether through comedy, drama or animation. Her second feature film I Think it’s Raining had its world premiere at the Karlovy International Film Festival and received digital distribution through GoDigital. Her past clients include, U.S. Navy, Google, ICANN, Hewlett Packard, Marvel, Kraft, Samsung, Pringles, Star Wars, Kool-Aid, Shutterstock, Swiftype, Cathay Bank, Yingli Energy, P&G Everyday, McDonalds, Ricola, Frog Tape, Maker City LA and Salvation Army. She loves to travel and has adventured to Japan, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Czech Republic, France and Pakistan.
Producer J.C. Peterson
J.C. Peterson is a writer, producer and nonprofit professional who has successfully combined his creative projects with his charitable work. He published his book, A Face in the Crowd, in partnership with Judy Shepard to promote the mission of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which was nominated for a Lambda Literary Foundation Award. His screenplay Carol of the Bells is being developed as a television movie to bring awareness to the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities and will benefit an organization that has served the community for 45 years. With more than 20 years in the nonprofit field, most recently serving as a member of the Senior Management Team for Phoenix Houses of California, Peterson has raised millions of dollars to help troubled youth turn their lives around and realize the opportunity of a brighter future. He has written numerous screenplays that have received recognition in various writing competitions. Peterson currently serves as an advisor for Down syndrome in the Arts and Media, an organization, which helps place actors with Down syndrome in film and television roles and volunteers his time for numerous organizations.
Cinematographer Ryan Booth
Ryan Booth is a former audio engineer and photographer who entered and won a short film contest sponsored by Canon and Vimeo in the fall of 2010. The final film premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and launched Ryan’s career as both a Director and Director of Photography. Since then, he has shot extensively for Universal Records, Sony/BMG, Atlantic Records, Capitol Records, MTV & VH1, (new) Myspace, as well as numerous commercial clients including Spotify and Under Armour. His first narrative feature as DP, This is Where We Live, was selected for the dramatic competition at the SXSW Film Festival in 2013. The film went on to a successful festival and theatrical run. He also created and directs a live music project, SerialBox Presents, which has garnered nearly 20 million impressions and has been featured on numerous media sites including Entertainment Weekly, CMT, and NPR. PDN magazine recently named Ryan as one of the “20 Filmmakers to Watch in 2015.” Ryan resides in Texas with his wife and two daughters and is currently in pre-production on a number of projects.
Editor Phil Bucci
Phil Bucci has been editing film and movie trailers for over 10 years winning several awards. Some of his most notable projects have been ESPN 30 for 30 documentary Untucked part of the Emmy nominated series directed by Danny Pudi, the multiple award winning web series Destroy the Alpha Gammas and trailer campaigns for Django Unchained, Stoker, The Mortal Instruments, Skyfall, Real Steel, Tron, Star Trek and Transformers. Currently, All I Need, a feature film, is set to premiere at the Dances with Films film festival in Los Angeles.