Archive for the ‘Documentary’ Category

ALS Boy: The Movie

At long last, The Adventures of ALS Boy (the movie) comes to a computer screen near you.

A thousand thank you’s to my friend and filmmaker Alaa Al Dajani for providing my family with such a beautiful and incredible keepsake for us to treasure.  Also, thanks for uploading it online so we can share your brilliant vision with our appreciative audience of loyal readers.


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As promised last week, here are more specific details about the premiere of Alaa’s film, The Adventures of ALS Boy.

Stanford University

School of Humanities & Sciences

Department of Art & Art History

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2009 Spring MFA Documentary Screening Number 3

Films by the First Year Students in the MFA program in Documentary Film & Video

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8 documentaries in 16mm color film

Thursday, June 11, 2009, 7:30 pm

Annenberg Auditorium

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Free and open to the public

Q & A with filmmakers and reception to follow

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For directions and a brief synopsis of the 8 films being shown, click here.

If you have any questions or want to rsvp for the post-premiere after party at the world famous Carlos Club, email me at jasonp110@yahoo.com  .

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Save the Date

Remember last month when I wrote about my experiences making a documentary with student filmmaker Alaa Al Dajani? Click here for a reminder.

Well, the film makes its big-screen debut next Thursday, June 11, 2009, on the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto at 7 PM.

More specific details to follow once they are made available to me.

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Important Note: Please read yesterday’s entry, entitled “Making the Movie Part 1“, before delving into this one. It should go a long way in explaining what’s been happening with the ALS Boy crew lately.

All caught up? Cool. Read on.

Day One of Filming (continued)

5:00 PM, Backyard. Fehmeen arrives home from school just in time for her close-up. Alaa directs us to walk hand in hand around our backyard. We comply with his request in our new tandem walking technique: A face to face and arms distance apart method we refer to as ‘The Seventh Grade Dance’. Fehmeen and I even manage to steal an eskimo kiss on film while the director is inside the house. Sorry, Alaa.

6:15 PM, Dining Room. The crew captures the family sitting around the table enjoying a delicious penne pasta and salad dinner. Emma ends up wearing half as much red sauce on her face as she actually gets in her mouth.

7:00 PM, Living Room. Alaa decides that he wants to film Fehmeen and I playing with Emma. Unfortunately for everyone involved, Emma’s cuteness and subsequent filmability peaks sometime in the middle of the guys’ heated conversation about f-stops and light meter readings. The Bug does her best to cowgirl up but it is hard to be adorable when you’re wearing a pair of cranky pants.

Day 2 of Filming

9:00 AM, Stanford University, Computer Lab. My valet and I meet the fellas in a dimly lit sub-basement room on campus in order to film me typing on a keyboard while sitting in front of an enormous wall-sized projection of my blog. It was beyond cool looking. At one point during the morning when they were filming something on the screen and I noticed that the silhouette of my head was in the frame, I discovered that I could make my ears move up and down. Look for that little easter egg in the finished product.

11:45 AM, Chili’s Restaurant. Lunch Break. I am pleased to report that my Italian man-servant and I did not witness any vomiting children during the course of our meal.

2:00 PM, Parking Lot, Menlo Park. Alaa, David, and Anthony attach the camera to a four three-wheeled aparatus to better film me as I wheel around the surprisingly busy parking lot. Much love to the Menlo Park PD for cordoning off the fans and the paparazzi while we finish our work.

3:30 PM, Tobias Physical Therapy. The entire shoot wraps on a somewhat physical note as Alaa captures me getting my sweat on. A big thank you goes out to Robin for allowing us into her workplace.

Final Thoughts

While the experience as a whole was well worth the time and energy I personally invested in it, I had no idea how intrusive and contrived the whole process was. I incorrectly assumed a certain level of spontaneity.

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.

Alaa tells me that the film will screen around June 10 on the Stanford campus. I promise to post details when I confirm them.

Oh yeah, btw, Emma survived her shots. She was originally scheduled to receive a whopping seven of them but we were able to delay four of them for next time.

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Making the Movie Part 1

Sometime around the beginning of April, I received a message via Facebook from a Stanford film student named Alaa. In his email, Alaa explained that he had read the Almanac piece on me and was interested in making a documentary about my story. A few phone convos and face to face sit-downs later, my agent (Fehmeen “Ari Gold” Picetti) and I signed our names on the proverbial dotted line, thus handing over the keys to the gold-plated ALS-Calade that is my post-diagnosis life to the budding filmmaker.

The Fine Print

Because this is a student film, there are certain practical and logistical constraints at play in regards to production. First, shooting is limited to two days in order to allow equal access to the equipment for the other students in the program. Second, since they are working with real (non-digital) film, actual footage is limited to four rolls, or forty minutes, of film, which will eventually be pared down to a six to eight minute final product. And finally, because I am a true man of the people, I decided to waive nearly every single item on my rider except for two: an unlimited supply of Cokes with no ice and mandatory grape eating breaks for me and Emma.

Day One of Filming

12:15 PM, Office. I am walked into the room by my valet, seated at my desk behind a laptop and asked to type away on my blog site. I comply but am slightly distracted by the ‘spirited’ discussion between Alaa and David, the cameraman, about light reading conversions and f-stops. Anthony, the soundguy, maintains a low-profile under his headphones and boom mike.

2:30 PM, Entryway. Alaa has me walk across the hardwood floored entryway with my cane. Twice, because my foot was out of frame the first time. I’m exhausted already. Bring me my grapes. And my baby.

3:00 PM Lunch break for everyone.

4:15 PM, Kitchen Table. My mom and I are filmed playing a card game called Spite and Malice. It’s fun except for the fact that she plays a completely different version than I’m used to. I wonder if I’ll look confused on film.

Please join me for Part 2 of this post tomorrow. Gtg, Emma has a checkup now and is scheduled to get a shot. If you listen around 5 PDT, you may hear her wailing.

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