Drunk on Too Much Life is an intimate and powerful documentary following the filmmaker’s 21-year-old daughter’s mind-opening journey from locked-down psych wards and diagnostic labels towards expansive worlds of creativity, connection and greater meaning. On their journey, the family begins to question the widespread idea that mental illness should be understood in purely biological terms and learns the myriad ways that madness has meaning. Recovery is not a straight path to being cured but a crooked and bumpy journey and series of small awakenings.
Michelle Melles, Director/Producer/Co-writer
Michelle Melles (she/her) is a seasoned director, writer and producer with a background in independent documentary media, non-fiction television, and magazine journalism. She has worked for some of the top broadcasters and television shows in Canada, produced and directed numerous short, nationally-broadcast and internationally-distributed TV documentaries. Under her banner Parallel Vision Pictures, she seeks to tell multidimensional and engaging stories that challenge preconceived ideas and offer unique ways of perceiving the world. She holds an MFA in Documentary Media from The Creative School at X-Ryerson University in Toronto (Gold Medal, 2021, summa cum laude); received the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grant from the Canadian Government for her work in documentary filmmaking and transformative mental health (2020), and holds a BA from the University of Toronto (high distinction; faculty scholar, 1995). Drunk on Too Much Life is Michelle’s first feature length documentary film.
Pedro Orrego, Co-Producer, Writer
Pedro Orrego (he/him) is a seasoned TV writer and producer and has worked on numerous series and documentaries for broadcast and festivals for the last 20 years. He won a Gemini (now called Canadian Screen Award) in 2004 for his work on the groundbreaking docuseries SexTV and was nominated a few more times. His short documentary Getting Wood was selected at the Hot Docs Film Festival in 2005. Along with his collaborator Steve Koven, he plays and records improvised music which is used in films and videos. Drunk on Too Much Life is his first feature length documentary film.
Corrina, Participant and Collaborator
Corrina (she/her) is a poet, artist, musician and peer support worker, with a background in psychology. She is a kind, empathetic, and outgoing person who loves to help others and is a huge animal lover. She has completed peer support training at the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario where she volunteers as a speaker and peer support worker. She also has 4 years of peer support experience working with people in crisis over the phone at the Krasman Centre. She has volunteered for many years with seniors, and continues compassionate care and social activism wherever she can.
Rob Ruzic, Editor
Over two decades, Rob Ruzic’s documentary editing has encompassed a wide range of subjects including social issues, nature, crime, visual arts, sports, performing arts, and biography. Films he has worked on have screened at film festivals worldwide, including the Toronto International Film Festival and Hot Docs. Previous credits include The Face of Anonymous (2020), League of Exotique Dancers (2015, opening night film at Hot Docs), Mugshot (2014, Winner Yorkton Film Festival Golden Sheaf Award for Best Documentary Arts & Culture), and Remembering Arthur (2006, named one of the best films of the year by Artforum Magazine).
Heather Frise, Animator
Heather Frise is a Toronto-based filmmaker, educator and visual artist. Her experimental films and animations have screened internationally and won several awards, including a Genie Award for Bones of the Forest (w/Velcrow Ripper). Her drawings have appeared in exhibitions and publications in Canada and the US. For over seven years, she worked on collaborative, interactive documentary projects at the National Film Board of Canada and was Senior Documentary Development Editor on the Emmy-Award winning, Highrise.
She has worked for decades as a teacher, facilitator, and collaborator on participatory community media projects. She holds an MFA in Visual Art from York University and currently teaches drawing and time-based media.
Michal Conford and Gerda Cammaer
Pietro Frenguelli, Michelle Melles, Rob Ruzic
Music by Pietro Frenguelli (Agencies)
Corrina, Pedro Orrego
Steve Koven (LazerSuzan)
Mike Ducan, Studio 64
Kevin Healey & Dave Umbongo
Omar Majeed, Samara Grace Chadwick, Lina Cino
Kevin Healey, Dave Umbongo, Dr. Gabor Maté, Sifu Rupert Harvey, Shawn Pendenque, Sascha DuBrul, Donna and Stella Green/Stella’s Place
Drunk on Too Much Life is produced by Michelle Melles dba Parallel Vision Pictures in the Documentary Media Program (MFA), Ryerson University, 2021.