Sunday, September 13, 2009

Friends and Allies

Many of you know that the film I worked on, The Cake Eaters, is concerned with a group of lost souls in a small town. Georgia, the teenage girl played by the amazing Kristen Stewart in the film, suffers from Friedreich's Ataxia - an inherited disease that causes progressive damage to the nervous system. Early on in the writing process of the screenplay, I wanted to explore disability, particularly, people confined physically, but internally, mentally, emotionally yearning for love and life just like the rest of us. My mom spent the last years of her life confined and it was an experience that will always stay in my heart. I researched various diseases and stumbled quite randomly on FA. I thought that FA was something fairly unknown and worth exploring, that it would have no preconceived notions.

So I put the script out to the FA community through the help of amazing people like Paul Konanz, Mary Caruso, and Ron Bartek, who work with FARA - Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance. I remember Tiffany cautioning me, "You know you are sending out this script about a teenage girl who wants to find love with an older boy. Are you crazy? You might make some people mad." Well, little did I know this was the beginning of a 6 years and running relationship with the FA community. I was showered with amazing heartfelt responses to the script and the candid relationship between Kristen's character and Beagle, played so wonderfully by Aaron Stanford. The parents of many teens with FA expressed their honest feelings about the notion of love, even sex. It was overwhelming.

We want off and made the film and all those filmlike things that go with movie making...sweating, crying, arguing, laughing, praying, bragging....blah, blah, blah. "My film played at this film festival. Isn't that great!" But out there, people with FA were dealing with the very real issues in their lives, like how to get in and out of their homes.

Many of you know the story of how long the film took to come out, and the hard work that people like Jesse Scolaro - our producer, Patrick Morris - our executive producer, and Mary Stuart Masterson - our director, put into the end result of a release in march of this year. I was so overwhelmed that I don't think I ever processed how much it meant to the FA community to see the film available on Amazon, in a Blockbuster or on Netflix or in theaters.

Until this past friday night at Mary Caruso's amazing event in Conneticut for FA where The Cake Eaters team was given a "Friends and Allies Award" for raising awareness for FA. I think the whole table of us, many of us now who've had and are expecting to have children in the 6 years it's taken to bring the film to life, got emotional realizing that we spend our days desperately begging people to make our movies, but in this instance, this film, The Cake Eaters, actually resonated within a very vibrant, community.

All I can say is right now, "I am the happiest man in the world."

Please learn more about FA at here

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