What inspired you come up with the idea for the film?
It is inspired by our life. When I was diagnosed with Cancer in 2008 it was such a devastating concept that Doug and I couldn’t even really get our heads around it. I immediately fell back on what I could DO- to empower myself. I thought: “Film it. Film it all.” I thought it might provide a chronicle for my kids at least- how we got thorough this. (Any other option was not considered.) It helped me focus on something, anything, else other than being a “Cancer victim”. We filmed as much as we could and then the process itself, then my recovery, life, kids, getting past it, took over and we didn’t pursue it. Cut to 6 years later; I had been struggling to find a script to either write from scratch or rewrite that Doug and I could DO ourselves. I got sick of waiting for the “right time”. During the rewrite of the script- we found the perfect opportunity to incorporate the footage we had shot while going through Cancer and surgery. The two meshed seamlessly and the shooting draft is something I’m immensely proud of.
Why did you want to tell this story?
I believe it is a story that applies to anyone. Everyone has families, life can get messy and laughter heals. Regardless of the specific circumstances- I know that- as a filmmaker and writer, it is important for me to BE MOVED by something. I intended to bring in all of that- the ups, the downs and the story as it evolves. I hope that anyone dealing with a cancer diagnosis- either themselves or in their family will see the hope that laughter and love can bring. The same applies to an aging parent, supporting a family and the terror of throwing an 8 year old’s birthday party.
How do you relate to your characters or subjects?
They are us. Both literally, as our family were the main characters, and figuratively, but aside from that- it’s a FAMILY’S story. There are friends, relatives and supporting characters that we all have and relate to.
What aspect of the story changed the most during writing and production?
Not much really. We stayed pretty true to the script
What was the most courageous decision you or your crew made during production?
To even undertake it at all. It was an independent film, shot with money entirely crowd-funded & raised ourselves, shot by 2 first-time directors- who were husband and wife (!) with kids, dogs, multiple locations and characters. It was a leap of faith for all involved, from the word go- and we never looked back.
Where there any risks that you faced during production and how did you find a way to embrace them?
Not really. Our producer, Jen Prince was and is PRIMARILY concerned with creating a SAFE and supportive set. We never pushed hours. We considered family and working schedules around our shoot dates and made sure nothing risky was asked of anyone. It was her first and continual focus.
What influenced the visual style of the film?
Doug and I both had looks and styles that we favored. When we first met with our Director of Photography, Savannah Bloch- she had a “look book” that had- literally- every one of our favorites on it as an example. We wanted it realistic looking but still stylized. We are huge fans of “Friday Night Lights” so that was our first wish and then set specific looks and scene feelings from there.
What risks did you take to tell your story?
Everything, really. We spent an entire summer filming with our kids, there were work days lost and favors asked and money raised. But, we really weren’t scared. The project was on the page and everyone who supported us knew that we would deliver.
How would you encourage others to tell their story or manage through the process of screen writing or film producing?
As far as writing: Believe in the power of a crappy first draft. The momentum alone is half the battle. After that, have people you trust and admire read it and give notes, not the general public. Then- LISTEN to the notes. Be flexible but trust your gut. As far as producing? SURROUND YOURSELF WITH KNOWLEDGEABLE AND TALENTED PEOPLE. We were so lucky to have our producers and entire crew at every stage helping and guiding us.
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