A few years ago I was taking a break from soul-crushing temp jobs in order to finish writing my next feature film script. I was unemployed, uninsured and barely scraping by when a need for an emergency root canal left me $2000 in the hole.
I was having coffee with my best friend when she told me about a drug trial she’d heard about from someone she worked with which paid $5,000. BINGO! Within a week, I had gone through my first psychiatric evaluation and physical. Seven days later, I checked into the psychiatric ward ready to begin the trial.
Everything happened so quickly, I was not prepared for the experience. I was stripped of my shoe laces and any communication devices. I was told when to eat, poked and prodded, dosed and sent to bed early each night.
Hanging out in the ward, I met women who, I assumed, were vastly different from me. Women that were on the fringe, who did this regularly as a way to make ends meet or as a step up from their regular jobs. I kept my distance for the first few days but by the end of the week, I realized that we were actually very similar, and that I too had been living a life on the edge of everything.
What lead me to write this script, were these women I met and their stories. These were not women on the fringe but regular women participating in drug trials so they could take care of themselves and their families. They saw no other option within their scope of reality that could deliver such financial reward. And do not have the luxury of thinking about potential dangers to their health these tests could cause.
Medical research requires human testing. But it’s not the rich and famous who are subjected to these tests – it’s those who are down and out, who put their bodies on the line. They’re rewarded with money, and their problems get solved momentarily, but has devastating side effects in many cases. There are hundreds of people who have turned drug testing into their career paths because they have limited options.
Rat Race is a compassionate exploration of their journey.
Out of options and in desperate need of cash, a young woman gets caught up in the high-stakes world of professional drug trials. Currently in development for 2019 with Daniella De Jesus (OITNB) as the lead. For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The feature script was selected as a second-round finalist for the Sundance Development Labs in 2019.