Sunday, November 02, 2008

Never Surrender

When I was in film I wanted to make a movie that would change people's lives. Not a giant blockbuster that would bring me fame and fortune but a quiet little flick that had a profound impact on individuals. And I did it with my second documentary which is a good thing because making that film changed my life in a variety of ways; one of which was that I had to get out of that business due to health reasons.

It was a half-hour documentary about multiple sclerosis that came out at a time when the disease was terrifyingly misunderstood. The drug treatments were as debilitating as the disease itself and a diagnosis led people to despair. The film was entitled Never Surrender and showed three individuals and their families who were living successfully with the disease. Don't google it. You won't find it. The section with the state-of-the-art testing is hopelessly out-of-date and the film is no longer available.

I met one of my closest friends while making Never Surrender. I met a really cool band,just starting out, who agreed to provide music for the soundtrack. As their career grew so did their involvement with the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. There were no websites, no google,no positive resources and very little awareness of the disease. My film came along at the perfect moment. It garnered a lot attention, won awards. But most importantly, it gave people reason to believe they could manage the disease and go on to live full productive lives. I still have letters from people thanking me for that.

So when I was diagnosed this week with a plethora of ailments I couldn't help but think of Never Surrender. The attitude behind that film came in handy. I've read up on things, talked to people I know who manage the ailments and done a fair amount of research. There are so many more resources today than when we made that film. And what influenced my outlook wasn't a film at all.

It was a book that had nothing to do with any of those things. It was a work of fiction about a woman whose coping skills were so self-destructive I knew that I'm doing well. I'm older, wiser and my situation is neither dire nor severe. It simply happened to be the book I was reading this week. Yet it changed my perspective.

I want to write fiction that changes people's lives...


  1. You can. And you will. You made a documentary film that changed lives, which I would love to have seen. You can write fiction that changes lives. I have faith in you.

  2. Anonymous5:09 PM

    That film changed a lot of lives. I took a phone call from the director of the U.S. Multiple Sclerosis Society based in NYC. She was still crying about the courage of the families shown in the film at a time when the diagnosis was considered life threatening by some. She heaped much praise on the twenty something film maker, also one of the three subjects. We were exceptionally proud.

    I have no doubt that you can write a book to change lives. You have a great deal of strength and courage.