Documenting destruction

Freedom Newspapers: Helena Rodriguez Paul Hunton of Portales works on footage on his computer he is compiling for a documentary, “Cranked Out Clowns.”

By Helena Rodriguez: Freedom Newspapers

Editor’s note: This is the third in a three-part series dealing with the effects of methamphetamine addiction and its growing impact on local communities.

Paul Hunton wants people who watch his video documentary to walk away disgusted. And if they don’t, “Then something is wrong with them.”

Hunton, a 2006 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University in Portales with a degree in broadcast production, is raising funds while shooting footage for his film project, “Cranked Out Clowns.” It is a documentary addressing the addiction to methamphethamine, or crank, as it is called on the streets.

Hunton was a finalist for the 2007 Governor’s Cup Short Documentary Competition in New Mexico.

Problem affecting local community
The documentary will feature footage of a TV news report on the Otis and Doris Newman murders in Portales in March of 2005. In a Jan. 17 Portales News-Tribune story, District Attorney Matt Chandler said, “Methamphetamine is apparent all over this (Newman) case.” Chandler said the crime may have been precipitated by a meth high and a $150 drug debt.

Jerry Fuller and Stanley Bedford, both of Portales, were convicted of the murders and are serving life sentences for the crimes.

Hunton said he will interview people involved in every aspect of meth, from drug addicts and dealers, to law enforcement officials and families of addicts.

Film project is personal
Hunton got the idea for the documentary reading a poem written by Robert E. Savitz called “Cranked Out Clowns,” in a paid advertisement in the Portales News-Tribune. The ad was placed by Savitz’s mother. Savitz, who struggled with meth, committed suicide in 2006.

“As soon as I read that poem, I cut it out and read it again. It is something that really made me stop and think that people are crying out for help,” Hunton said.

Hunton has been personally touched by the meth problem because he has a close family member on meth and he was acquainted with Savitz.

“It is not about making money; it is about making this film,” Hunton said. He estimates it will cost about $5,000 to complete. He plans to enter the documentary into film festivals and show it at schools and to anyone who will watch.

“I own a lot of the equipment needed to make the film, but I have to pay the people who help. It is not a one-person job,” he said.

Interviews still sought
Besides money, Hunton said, “The thing I need from people is their time and their willingness to talk about meth.”

Hunton has filmed portions of the documentary, including an interview with a meth dealer whose identity is concealed and voice altered for security purposes. In the interview, Hunton asks the dealer if he feels guilt about how meth affects his customers.

The dealer responds, “If they don’t buy it from me, they will buy it from someone else.”

Hunton also recently interviewed Rob’s sister, Amanda Ziegler of Hobbs. Wearing a gold hologram necklace with a picture of her brother around her neck, Ziegler said Rob, “was very popular and knew no strangers.”

She described the heartache of how the meth addiction changed him and affected the family. “It’s like he led two different lives,” Ziegler said.

Ziegler plans to share her brother’s story with others through her involvement with the Palmer Drug Abuse Program in Lea County. She will speak at area schools and be a part of a meth prevention program supported by Congressman Steve Pearce, R-N.M.

Why people start using
Hunton also wants to address the issue of what makes people start using meth. Some explanations he has heard are:

1) To lose weight

2) To stay up for long periods of time (one man said he can write a 1,000 word article in one night when he’s on meth).

Hunton said many people know about the meth problem but are not aware of how it affects the entire community. About the film, he said, “The biggest risk is if you don’t do it; if the problem stays under the radar. There is more at stake (for) not talking about meth.”

For information or to help support Hunton’s documentary, call 693-2361.

Anti-drug poem
Editor’s note: This poem was written by Robert E. Savitz and was published by his mother, Sheila, in a paid advertisement in the Portales News-Tribune on Easter Sunday of 2002. Savitz struggled with a meth addiction and took his own life on Sept. 14, 2006. A video documentary about meth addiction which is being produced by a Portales man is being named after this poem.

“Cranked Out Clowns”
By Robert E. Savitz

Ladies and gents, and children too
Those Cranked Out Clowns in front of you.
Demons of Death have sold them a deal.
Their very lives, and souls to steal.
Tearing up parents and homes apart
Even starving a young girl’s heart.
The Devil’s Circus is now in town
Smashing dreams of Cranked Out Clowns
Leading them down the path to Hell
With destruction that Satan sells.
Don’t let Satan fool you, too,
With tricks to steal your soul from you.
But look to Jesus to set you free.
He is the only hope for you and me.