The way in which severe, treatment-resistant PTSD is treated could soon change, and that's due in part to New College of Florida graduate Rick Doblin, an aspiring psychotherapist whose nonprofit, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), has lobbied for a greater understanding of the use of psychedelic substances, particularly MDMA, in trauma therapy. It's a story that will soon be told by filmmaker Nirvan Mullick, whose in-the-works documentary, Prescription X: The Rick Doblin Story, will chronicle Doblin's time in Sarasota, the city where he was exposed to psychedelics and where he decided to start his nonprofit.
Mullick, who is also co-producing the film, is no stranger to Sarasota himself. The L.A.-based filmmaker's grandfather was one of the first developers on Longboat Key. And, like Doblin, Mullick also attended New College. "He was sort of a legendary alumnus," Mullick says. "You just kind of heard stories about him." In fact, although Doblin had graduated before him, Mullick first ran into Doblin on New College's campus while Mullick was working on a thesis film project. "I interviewed him," Mullick says. "The audio's terrible, there's music in the background and there's no lighting, but Rick Doblin was in the first film I made 25 years ago."
Since then, Mullick has received a master of fine arts in experimental animation from the California Institute of Arts. He's had numerous films screened at film festivals, and his short film, "Caine's Arcade," went viral. He also manages a nonprofit and a media company.
After recently crossing paths with Doblin again, Mullick approached him about making a full-length documentary. "We simply asked if anyone was making a film about it," Mullick says. "Rick’s an incredible character, and this is an incredible story."
MDMA is a psychoactive psychedelic drug that has received a Breakthrough Therapy designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for clinical trials. After that, MDMA could be approved for widespread use in severe trauma therapy. "We plan to continue the film until MDMA becomes legal," Mullick says. "We don’t want to release the film until after that happens."
The two have already covered key moments in Doblin's journey, including meetings in Washington, D.C., with the Food and Drug Administration, and his father's passing. But if Doblin and MAPS are able to see MDMA be legalized, Mullick will be there with the camera rolling. "They’re estimating 2021, or 2022," Mullick says. "And we’ll keep filming until that happens."
You can keep up with Prescription X through the film's website. A Sarasota Magazine profile of Rick Doblin will appear in our August 2019 issue.