Winning the Documentary Oscar for Bryan Fogel’s Icarus, Netflix has quickly jumped back into the doc conversation with Alison Klayman’s Take Your Pills. Executive produced by Maria Shriver and her daughter, Christina Schwarzenegger, Klayman’s latest dives into a little discussed American epidemic—the epidemic of adderall—discussing the degree to which this prescription stimulant is overprescribed, and used by children and adults alike to compete in a hyper-competitive world.
For Schwarzenegger, this first outing as a documentary producer was a passion project rooted in personal experience. “I feel that this is an epidemic, just from my firsthand experience in college, seeing the way that adderall was so ridiculously overprescribed, overused. It was something I wanted to bring to the forefront,” the producer said, appearing at Deadline’s SXSW Studio alongside Shriver and Klayman. “Talking with friends I went to college with about life post-college, we all couldn’t envision a life without adderall, and that was incredibly troublesome to me and my friends.”
For Shriver—who has produced documentaries including The Mask You Live In and Paycheck to Paycheck—the goal in making Take Your Pills was to foster a dialogue, and change the way that adderall is perceived, examining the costs of a drug that makes people function well and feel so good. “I think this is a conversation that the country should be having,” Shriver explained. “I think it’s a great way for us all to step back and say, at what cost are we taking this drug? ”
In making the doc, Klayman found herself continually surprised, by her interview subjects and what came out of her in-depth research. “The long history of amphetamine, why it was synthesized, how it was used, how it was abused, how it was enjoyed, how it was vilified—all those things for me were really new information. I can’t say that I know the history of Advil or a lot of things in the same way,” she said. “I was also surprised to find out that [in] the last few years, adults became the majority of the population taking prescription stimulants.”
“It’s also interesting to think about why this is such an American phenomenon,” Shriver added, “What are we expecting from our children, and what are we losing in the process?”
To view Deadline’s conversation with the Take Your Pills team, click above.
The Deadline Studio at SXSW 2018 is presented by MoviePass.