To get his life on track, writer faced homelessness

Screenplay now being made into film
By: Michelle Carl Press Tribune Editor
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Faces of Homelessness: Homelessness can happen to anyone. In the second installment of this three-part series, we share the stories of locals who have found themselves without a home to call their own. Brian Huntley’s transformation began with a choice: Do I continue to live surrounded by alcohol or do I leave and risk homelessness in the quest to get sober? With a girlfriend threatening to leave him and ambitions of becoming a writer, Huntley chose to leave. He’d rather be homeless than continue to be an alcoholic. The 36-year-old Roseville resident channels his experience with addiction in “Dark Truths,” a screenplay he wrote that is being filmed by Roseville-based production company Live Media Entertainment. “When you explore addiction, you explore dark truths about yourself,” Huntley said of the film’s title. Thanks to Roseville’s Lazarus Project, Huntley said he’s been given a place to live while he deals with those truths. “Once I found the Lazarus Project, I had the opportunity to stop drinking, the opportunity to recover from alcoholism,” he said. “I got a chance, and what I needed was a chance.” In 2009, the East Coast native followed his girlfriend to California and ended up living with roommates in a house in Roseville. A chance encounter at the Starbucks on Harding Boulevard connected him with Roseville producer Hector Marquez. Marquez said it was Huntley’s persona that drew him to “Dark Truths.” “If you ask him about it, he’ll tell you it’s the best story in the world, and if you hang around him long enough, he’ll make you believe that out of sheer necessity,” he said. Huntley has been writing since he was a teen (his first poem was scratched out on pencil on paper while he was hiding out in a bathroom to avoid getting jumped). He has written other screenplays, but this is the first that’s made it to film. A rising rapper named Quest learns his brother is murdered and seeks to find the killer. Multiple stories intertwine as characters battle their addictions — lying, marijuana, and heroin. Huntley said he wanted to put a face on addiction with this script and show how it affects everyone’s lives. “(Addiction is) the alcohol store, it’s the meth head begging for change,” he said. “You may not want to see addiction, but when you pretend it doesn’t exist, you can’t see who it is behind it.” Huntley, a deeply Christian man, says the source of addiction is the adversary – Satan — who is represented by The Dark Figure in his script. Huntley shares a writing credit on the film with collaborator Tim Nealy as well as dialog and story editor Seth Shore, but the story is all Huntley (he’ll also get a percentage of the profits from the film). Marquez said distribution details are under wraps, but it should be released to the public by late summer. The Roseville-based filmmaker said audiences will find the story relatable, but Huntley’s story is equally fascinating. “Everybody thinks they need to go down to Hollywood to be a movie star … Brian is the greatest example that it doesn’t matter where you are, it’s what you do,” Marquez said. “This guy is about to have one of the hugest movies released all because of his drive and determination. He doesn’t see any obstacles.” Marquez said it’s obvious Huntley spoke from his own experiences to create “Dark Truths.” In 2009, he was jobless and living with roommates in Roseville, partying and drinking in a fraternity house environment. “I couldn’t stop drinking. I partied all the time, but I wanted to stop drinking and I couldn’t live there,” Huntley said. “You have to suffer from addiction to understand what it’s like. Addiction is a form of slavery. … I had to get strength and walking away was the only way to get strength.” It was a turning point for Huntley, a time when he put his girlfriend and her son before his drinking. “Getting away from addiction is realizing what you love more,” he said. So he left. Although he had been homeless before, in California he didn’t have a support system of family and friends to lean on. “I couch surfed with some people I met. I spent one night in the car,” he said. “It was a bad week,” he said. After several days he found the Lazarus Project, a Roseville-based program that offers treatment and transitional housing to single men and women who are or are at-risk of homelessness. Once in the program, Huntley met Lazarus Project case manager Sheri Soden, who helps men and women deal with problems ranging from mental illness and drug or alcohol dependence to divorce. She says it’s been a blessing to watch Huntley’s success. “It’s very exciting because he’s just blossomed before my very eyes,” she said. “When he came in, he had a lot of emotional problems, but he’s worked hard to deal with those. … I don’t get panicking calls in the middle of the night anymore. He’s really overcome those things.” While Lazarus isn’t a place for everyone, Soden said Huntley has worked to overcome his addiction. He now attends Alcoholics Anonymous and meets with Soden weekly. “People have to be ready for a program like this — if you’re not ready to give up drugs or alcohol, our program is not the place for you,” she said. Now 17 months clean and sober, Huntley is seeing the “Dark Truths” script come to life and is attending Heald College majoring in business. His girlfriend is 5 ½ months pregnant with his first child. He’s living in Lazarus’ transitional housing, and has been given an opportunity to share his story with men just starting on a journey away from homelessness and addiction. “Mega-beautiful things have happened,” he said. “I’ll never be same guy that I was because now I have too much knowledge about addiction to ever regress to what I was.” Michelle Carl can be reached at ---------- We carried our lives amidst the snow A poem by Brian Huntley about his experience. This contention this form of life we traveled along life’s busy highway in search of a much needed home. We carried all we owned amidst the snow and debris. Our feet carried the weight of an entire society amidst the pain of an impoverished people in search of shelter and sanctuary from the things we once knew. Yet and still the dilemmas of this world we faced like warriors tried and true. We marched as ants pillaging to find civilization from our hardship in a world filled with countless threats and hunger deep down and within. Like a legacy passed down my father’s plight now became my own. The stigma he once faced was now mine to conquer. Yet with each step amidst the snow the yearning became intolerable. The quest to end homelessness was quenched by brief periodic jolts of human kindness. This form of ideology of a sin sick uncured nature became my paradox. Like an eagle spreading its wings freedom and liberty embodied my hope and focus. Yet I found refuge like Lazarus raised from the dead. God whom I call Jesus granted my plea and has more than proven my supplications had not fallen on deaf ears. The Lazarus Project aided my hope in a future and humanity and ultimately my dream. ~ Brian Huntley --------- For more information, visit “Dark Truths” The Lazarus Project