From Hawaii to Maine, from Alaska to the Florida Keys, Hernan Barangan has taken his wheelchair and his camera to meet young people with cancer in every state of America. Capturing spell binding footage that tells their individual stories and which combines into a unified cry from this movement for change led by Teen Cancer America. They want a better understanding of their exceptional needs as a distinct group – not children and not yet fully adults. They must be seen and heard.
You know that feeling you get when you’ve been roller skating all day and you take off the skates, put on your regular shoes and walk away? It’s been a long long time since I’ve been on roller skates – but I still remember that feeling – like you’re still moving forward, still rolling on those skates.
Well that’s what I’ve felt ever since we got back home from the Road Rebellion. My wheels never stopped spinning. After all, if I was going to make a film out of all that driving around, I’d really have to buckle in and get to work!
Every day I would wake up, make a pot of tea and sit myself in front of the computer. The next time I’d look up it would be dark out and time to get to sleep. We had collected so much footage that every day I could only make the smallest dent. I was like a filmmaking ant – sorting grains of sand from one giant anthill to another. There were times when I couldn’t tell where I was going, times when I felt lost and unsure if I would ever have a movie to show for it all.
Sure, looking back I realize now that I accomplished a LOT in those months. I edited 50 short films – one for each state. I also put together a 10 minute piece that played for Capitol Hill! The idea that my work may have helped form health legislation? I’m still amazed.
But I had this ball of stress building in my core – could I actually find a feature film in all this footage? The possibilities were endless. I was adrift in a sea of stories. Each story was just as important as the next. How could I possibly cut anything down? How could I move forward? I finally found myself at a standstill. So I did the only thing that comes natural. I got in the car and hit the road.
As the highway disappeared beneath my car I started to find peace. Once I was past downtown – once I could see the flat horizon of the desert and its wilderness painted before me – I finally understood.
I suddenly knew where to start the film. I knew what the open credits would be. I started the audio recorder on my phone – and for the next hundred miles, I narrated the structure of the entire film as I drove.
I should have known: this film was born on the road.
So I turned around and got back to the footage. Truly I’ve never worked so hard in all my life. A couple months later I emerged from my edit room with a cut of the film. I felt SO accomplished. I felt excited. I felt relieved. I felt… a fever coming on?
Sure enough, I had worked myself ragged once again – just like I did when we were on the road and I got thrown in a Pennsylvania hospital. In fact it was the exact same issue. Only this time, the infection had gotten all the way to my bones. So I learned the word “osteomyelitis” – a fancy way to say bone infection.
I got thrown into the hospital for a few days, got a PICC line, and got scheduled for a couple months worth of IV antibiotics. At the hour of this writing, I’m still running those antibiotics! But this time around I’m healing this thing up right – so hopefully next time I run myself ragged it will take a heck of a lot more to bring me down.
Of course throughout all this, I still have a film to finish! In fact, over-achiever that i am, I also have a 20 minute companion piece to finish as well!
In the past week I’ve been to KCET (along with the amazing Simon Davies) for a pledge drive interview. The very next day I was at Warner Bros. mixing the audio. The day after that I was over at Mango Post getting the color corrected! All while I’ve been running this 24-hour IV drip. Nothing stops me.
There’s still a lot of work to do before the feature film is done and out the door. But I’m definitely got good momentum towards being ready for a big world premiere early in the coming year. I’m crossing my fingers that I can get into that really big film festival – you know the one I’m talking about!
Until then I remain yours truly,