2023 Slamdance Film Festival: The Mad Writer Review

The 2023 Slamdance Film Festival runs from January 20 through January 26, 2023, in Park City and Salt Lake City, Utah. Every year the festival highlights some of the freshest and newest films that are set to hit theaters, streaming platforms, and VOD throughout the year. Today, I take a look at the directorial debut of Zach Kashkett, The Mad Writer.

The Mad Writer follows the story of Rising hip-hop phenom L’Orange is dealing with mysterious tumors in his ear canals, and the film takes us on his journey of fear of the unknown and what this could mean to him as a musician. We see L’Orange struggle with depression and anxiety as he undergoes several surgeries that threaten both his hearing and his career in music.

A good story has a beginning, a middle, and an end and empathetic protagonists and you failed on those accounts.


We hear those words coming out of L’Orange’s mouth as the film begins. L’Orange doesn’t seem fond of the idea or understand why they are making this documentary about him. However, his best friend, director Zach Kashkett, talked him into the idea, and that’s why we are here. One of the things I love the most about documentaries is often meeting or hearing stories about people I may not know. For this one, I don’t know who L’Orange is, and I trust that Kashkett will spend the time for those who don’t to give us an understanding of who the man is and warrant his story being a documentary.

I want to make music that doesn’t relate to everybody.


L’Orange is a hip-hop producer based in Nashville, TN. However, we rewind to his upbringing and some of the obstacles he faced in the navigation of finding his passion for music. Between depression, over-medication and wanting to step out on his own, L’Orange struggled and found himself sleeping in his car and unsure what his next steps would be. It was crazy to hear him recount the days of feeling the depression at the age of six years old. While I will hold off on explaining it all to let you hear that for yourself, the way he broke down the idea of the balloon guy at Chick-fil-A was genuinely brilliant.

Kashkett knew what he was doing here by letting L’Orange be the documentary star in the way that he let him tell most of the stories. We hear bits and pieces from other people along the way, but L’Orange recanting in his own words made for more powerful filmmaking. It’s wild when we meet L’Orange, his personality might cause some not to like him or his demeanor, but think for a second how you would feel about someone following you around and asking you to relive your entire life. Factor that in with his kind of, reserved nature, and you begin to understand why this was uncomfortable for him.

Overall, I loved The Mad Writer and how the perspective of L’Orange’s life was presented by director Kashkett and hearing one man’s journey navigating struggles. It’s something you need to see to understand because the struggles that L’Orange faces might be something that might reflect your own struggles and battles. So if you can check this one out, I would highly recommend it.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Mad Writer is an incredibly made documentary that is filled with heart, love and redemption.


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