What inspired you come up with the idea for the film? A narrative script was written about this incredible real-life man named Augie Nieto, and I felt that his true life story was just as cinematic as the script. That’s when I began the long process of convincing Augie, and especially Lynne, to allow me to invade their home to film a documentary about their life.
Why did you want to tell this story? I made Augie because of the incredible journey and transformation their lives had taken. Here was a man and woman who had everything in the material world but were on the verge of losing their marriage when ALS took over Augie’s body 11 years ago.
How do you relate to your characters or subjects? My time with Augie has been a life lesson to me. It allowed me to look at my own mortality and understand how I might deal with life in a totally comprised way. I couldn’t have imagined this until I met Augie and Lynne.
What aspect of the story changed the most during writing and production? Originally the film was going to be about the rise and fall and second rise of the most powerful man in the chair. However, when I met Lynne and saw her utter devotion to her partner, I knew that the movie was not about him, but about them.
What was the most courageous decision you or your crew made during production? It’s hard to consider ourselves courageous when we’ve met so many amazing and inspiring people along the journey of making this film. ALS patience and their tireless caregivers. But I suppose sticking a man in his tighty whities was pretty neat.
Where there any risks that you faced during production and how did you find a way to embrace them? Prior to meeting Augie and his family, I felt challenged by the prospect of making an uplifting and humorous film about a man with “locked-in syndrome.” But I soon discovered that Augie’s business brilliance and wicked sense of humor made it easy to connect to his soul. His wife Lynne made his reason for living very clear, and witnessing their raw and honest intimacy made me long for it in my own life.
What influenced the visual style of the film? From inception, I knew I needed to find a way to get inside of Augie’s mind. Eventually I landed on a visual platform that employed the use of green screen and archival home videos to creat a ‘memory-scape’.
What risks did you take to tell your story? With Augie only able to communicate by typing with his big toe, I was inspired to tell his story in totally untraditional ways. At its core, Augie is a love story whose central characters have a will to live that we should all embrace.
How would you encourage others to tell their story or manage through the process of screen writing or film producing? Finding a story that you love, that you feel matters is the soul to cinema. This is especially true in documentaries.
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