by Jamie Lang, Variety
Having recently wrapped shooting in upstate New York, the producers of Jamie Sisley’s debut feature “Stay Awake,” a dramatic family comedy about opioid addiction, have revealed key cast details.
In the film, Emmy and two-time Golden Globe Award Nominee Chrissy Metz (“This is Us”) plays Michelle, a loving and well-meaning mother of two whose struggle with prescription drug addiction is adversely affecting her entire family. Wyatt Oleff (“It,” “I Am Not Okay with This”) plays Ethan, the quick-witted younger brother about to leave the nest, and Fin Argus (“Clouds”) plays Derek, the eldest sibling who’s desires to care for his family are keeping him from moving forward with his own life.
Set in a small community in Virginia, “Stay Awake” confronts a serious and common problem facing many rural families across the country without dwelling explicitly on the negatives, instead choosing to address them with a very human mix of humor and levity.
“There was no doubt after meeting Jamie I wanted to take on this role,” said Metz after the film’s shooting had wrapped. “Not only because we rarely see the child’s perspective and how deeply they are affected when taking care of an addicted parent, but I believe we owe it to the lives lost, those who are forever changed and still battling this crisis.
“Jamie’s script is heartbreakingly timely and imperative in understanding the uncertainty, fear, and frustration when it comes to addiction. It is an honor to be a part of this project,” she finished.
Argus added: “It’s been an honor to bond through telling this story with such incredible and talented people from our cast to crew. I am so looking forward to people getting a look at the love and strong familial bonds that prevail despite dealing with something as tragic as a family member experiencing an opioid addiction. I am sure this film will help bring humanity and awareness to the unfortunately very present opioid epidemic that is currently affecting many American families of all kinds.”
“’Stay Awake’ is the most important story I have had the opportunity to tell,” summed up Oleff.
The lead trio are joined by an impressive ensemble of familiar faces including Cree Cicchino (“Mr. Iglesias”), Albert Jones (“Mindhunter”), Quinn McColgan (“Non-Stop”) and Lorrie Odom (“Isn’t It Romantic”). Amy Lippens and Rebecca Birstock were responsible for the film’s casting.
Sisley’s debut feature is an expansion of his eponymous 2015 short film which world premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in the Generation 14plus short film competition and won the National Board of Review Award.
“My mother has fought an addiction to prescription drugs and opioids for most of her life,” explained Sisley. “While trying to support her recovery, I have always been impressed by the courage that addicts and their families show while trying to overcome this disease. I want ‘Stay Awake’ to humanize addiction instead of villainize it. I especially want the film to challenge perceptions about prescription drug abuse and expand the discussion to include the families who suffer along with the addicts.”
“Stay Awake” is produced by Dialectic’s Shrihari Sathe (“Slow Machine,” “It Felt Like Love”) and Relic Pictures’ Eric Schultz (“Minor Premise,” “James White”). Schultz is keeping plenty busy over the summer, with his feature directorial debut “Minor Premise” being sold at the Marché du Film by MPI Media Group and produced “Long Days,” participating at the Frontiéres Proof of Concept platform.
Executive producers of “Stay Awake” are Christopher Columbus, Eleanor Columbus, Rick Rosenthal and Chrissy Metz, with Jennifer Westin, Hannah Pillemer, and Fernando Szew are executive producing for MarVista Entertainment. Heidi Castelein, Nion McEvoy, Adam Kirszner, Nancy Stephens, Ozo Jaculewicz, Barbara Perry, Yoshinobu Tsuji, Shannon Akegarasu and Saaz Haque all executive produce as well.
In addition to contributing several executive producers, MarVista Entertainment will handle global sales and co-represent the film with Endeavor Content.
Metz is repped by Tracy Brennan at CAA and Lena Roklin at Luber Roklin Entertainment; Oleff by Alexander Yarosh at Gersh and Margot Menzel at Luber Roklin Entertainment; and Argus by Jordan Gorelick and Brian Nossokoff at UTA and Elissa Leeds at Reel Talent Management.
Director of Photography: Alejandro Mejia, AMC