Utter Nonsense

Utter Nonsense is a touching, informative, and very personal journey into the world of drug addiction. It features Dr. Geri Lynn Utter, author of the acclaimed book Mainlining Philly, who here details her astonishingly dysfunctional childhood growing up the child of addicted parents who barely kept a roof above her head.

Focusing on the notorious Kensington district of Philadelphia where Dr. Utter was raised, Utter Nonsense also shares the stories of her half-sister and a pair of locals who at a young age found their lives spiraling downward into a life of addiction, street life, and incarceration.

Dr. Utter traces the disease of drug addiction through her family and others, where children grow up alone and hungry, hoping to do better than their parents, but often unable to outrun or outwit the family tradition of drug abuse, violence, and frequently, an early and tragic death.

Dr. Utter shares how she herself managed to avoid the curse of drug use, instead motivating herself to use education as a lever to lift herself out of Kensington, where she could help others who had fell victim to fentanyl, heroin, and other deadly, addictive narcotics.

In the end, Utter Nonsense not only educates the viewer about the genesis and cost of drug addiction, but it offers real hope that “the life” can be overcome.

  • Geri-Lynn Utter
  • Geri-Lynn Utter
  • Geri-Lynn Utter
  • Jason Penza
  • Geri-Lynn Utter
    Key Cast
  • Jerry Schiazza
    Key Cast
  • Dominique Harkins-Shipley
    Key Cast
  • Jessica Whalen
    Key Cast
  • Patrick Trainor
    Key Cast
    "Drug Enforcement Administration"
  • Ken Davidson
    Key Cast
    "Assistant Chief at Second Alarmers Rescue Squad - Montgomery County, PA"
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    42 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    January 1, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    75,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Geri-Lynn Utter

My name is Geri-Lynn Utter, PsyD. I am a Licensed Psychologist who specializes in working with individuals who struggle with co-occurring mental health concerns such as trauma and drug addiction. Being driven to work in this field was no accident. The familial and personal challenges that I have been confronted with have helped me become a clinician with rare, real-world insight into how our life experiences and the way we see ourselves largely impacts our mental health – both good and bad.
My experiences have left scars on my soul, but I see them as marks of wisdom that have shaped my understanding of human behavior. I’m the kind of person who tries to understand what makes people do the things that they do. That curiosity and desire to help others is what drove me to pursue my career as a psychologist.
In 2020, I released my first book, Mainlining Philly: Survival, Hope and Resisting Drug Addiction which came from my desire to share my story and instill hope. The book is based largely on experiences and challenges that I faced in life due to my parents struggles with drug and alcohol addiction and other mental health concerns like severe anxiety and depression. In the Fall of 2023, my second book Aftershock: How Past Events Shake Up Your Life Today, will be distributed by Simon and Schuster Publishing.
I currently reside in a Philadelphia suburb with my husband and two children. When I’m not practicing or writing, you can catch me on the soccer field or basketball court cheering for my kiddos.

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Director Statement

My hope is that this film will help to instill hope, for what is perceived as a hopeless situation. Drug addiction and mental health concerns impacts the people who are struggling and those who love them. Addiction does not discriminate - people from various races, religions, socio-economic statuses, sexual orientations, etc. are not inoculated from the possibility of becoming addicted. Early education, delivered in an honest and developmentally appropriate manner is essential for our youth.
Though it was challenging for me and the characters of Utter Nonsense to recollect some of the traumatic life events we endured, we did it because we are hopeful that education will begin to chip away at the stigma associated with addiction, in turn making treatment more accessible. The characters in this film refer to themselves as "addicts." As a treating, mental health professional, I do not refer to people who abuse drugs as "addicts." However, I wanted to create an environment, on set, for the characters to feel comfortable sharing their stories which afforded them the opportunity to use language to describe themselves/their behaviors in a manner they saw fit.