A Filmmaker’s Journey Into Alzheimer’s
I guess you could say that I’ve been lucky. I’ve not had to deal with Alzheimer’s on either side of my family.
My grandparents never suffered from it and my parents, unfortunately, died very young (not too many people would consider that lucky).
For a long time, I even thought people were saying “Old Timer’s” disease because I had never heard the term before and had never seen it written down.
Then there was the 1999 film “Deep Blue Sea” where mutant shark brains were being harvested as a way to cure Alzheimer’s.
I remember thinking, “Why would the filmmakers choose that as the device in this film? How many people even care about that disease? That’s kind of silly.”
But the truth is that film was ahead of its time. There’s an old saying in Hollywood that “you can’t throw a stone in LA without hitting someone in the film business”.
Well, now it seems you can’t throw a stone anywhere in the world without hitting someone affected by Alzheimer’s Disease.
I was blissfully unaware of it myself until very recently. As a filmmaker in Los Angeles, I was in-between feature film projects when I decided I wanted to shoot something.
I put the call out to all my filmmaking comrades on Facebook and received over 250 short film scripts in no time.
The winning script, and the best script by far, was a gripping and emotionally intense story called “Shattered Love”.
It came to me from a young mom in the UK named Carly Street who was inspired to write the story after hearing a friend talk about her painful experience as an Alzheimer’s caregiver.
What started out to be a quick-turnaround, low-budget ‘just for fun’ weekend project quickly turned into a runaway train.
Once the script “got out into the world” it became very clear to me that this was no ordinary script and no ordinary subject matter.
From agents to actors to directors to cinematographers, everyone was begging me to be involved with this project.
At first I basked in the flattery. But then something altogether different struck me. Why was it that every actor and every crew member I spoke with had a deeply emotional and painful experience with Alzheimer’s?
By the time I had my cast and crew in place, I realized that over 80% of them have been affected by this disease in some significant way.
I started doing the research and was shocked at what I found.
Just the sheer number of people being afflicted is enough to send chills up your spine, not to mention the statistics on how the disease is going to double and triple in the next 20-30 years.
I know that they say the disease currently can’t be cured, treated, or even slowed, but there is progress being made every day.
And while there are still many questions about the cause of the disease, no one is arguing that it’s becoming a worldwide epidemic and that we have to take action immediately.
And it’s not just an American illness; the minds of over 38 million people across the globe are deteriorating at an alarming rate.
Our film is going to help raise much-needed awareness. The medium of film provides a unique opportunity for us as artists to grab people by the throat and not let them go.
And while we’ve taken every advantage of that in this film, there is an intrinsic reality to it that is heart-breaking.
This is not “The Notebook” and it is not “Away From Her”. "Shattered Love" is a gritty, edgy, in-your-face look at the pain and devastation humans beings suffer when they have to make tough decisions that shatter their hearts and change their lives forever.
We hope that you will take a moment to view the short video we’ve created and support this powerful and important film by contributing whatever you can or just spread the word.
With enough awareness, we can make a difference.
Dawn Fields is an independent film producer in Los Angeles, California, where she has lived and worked for over twelve years. Ms. Fields has over fifteen years of experience in producing, directing, writing, and editing and has worked for such companies as LucasFilm, Tri-Star, ABC, NBC Universal, Aaron Spelling and Morgan Creek Productions. In addition to the short film “Shattered Love,” Ms. Fields also has several feature film projects in development.