The Fight to Run

When the U.S. Department of Veterans affairs refuses to provide the care she needs, a disabled veteran travels to Mexico for a double amputation surgery in order to live a better life and realize her dreams of competing in the Paralympic Games. But as the public celebrates her as an “American Hero,” the truth she keeps hidden threatens to unravel her life.

 

 
 
 

synopsis

“If you could spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair or cut off your legs and run again, which would you choose?” - Christy Gardner


Christy Gardner lives alone with her service dog Moxie. She dreams of being able to take Moxie for a run, of having a family and playing with them in the yard and competing in the 2016 Paralympic Games. But Christy is trapped in a medical purgatory with legs that are attached but useless.

When the US Dept of Veterans Affairs refuses the surgery she needs, telling her “you should be be happy with who you are” and, “you are too pretty to lose your legs,” Christy crowd funds and travels to a Mexican border town to have both of her legs removed and fitted with prosthetics in order to live a better life.

Christy confided in us that she has a secret that has been kept from national media and from her friends and family. Ashamed of the true nature of her injury, she lied and said she was hurt in a classified combat-related mission. Now, Christy feels the only way out of this lie is to cut off her legs and win a medal at the Paralympics, to finally prove to herself that she is the hero the public already believes she is.

In THE FIGHT TO RUN, we hope to redefine what it means to be an American hero, and tell the story of a brave, vulnerable woman who just wants to be able to run again. We believe that Christy’s inspirational story will help every soldier feel that their worth isn’t based on their hero narrative.

The secrets Christy is keeping from the public could unravel many aspects of her life, Dealing with that from a moral and creative standpoint is a challenge. Working with an unreliable narrator for a subject is a challenge. Also she is such a strong woman that she seems to alienate people. How do we bring out the subtle nuances of her character and convey her in an honest way? Our other creative challenge is creating materials and selling the film to partners, funders and collaborators at a critical juncture where funding is necessary to continue filming through Rio.

 

Rough Cut 5 min Preview

password: legs

 
 
 

artistic approach

 

Building on our background as photojournalists, our main priority is to capture intimate moments that will immerse our audience in Christy’s journey to run again and compete in the Paralympic games. Our verite shooting style will portray Christy’s emotional arc in a raw and honest way while conveying the grittiness that is at the heart of our underdog story. By utilizing a skeleton crew, each member has cultivated a relationship with Christy allowing her to share emotions she keeps beneath the surface.

Because of our intimacy with Christy, she felt comfortable telling us the truth about her injury overseas, something that she has lied about to family, friends and major news outlets. It is our goal to continue this intimate approach and document Christy’s inner conflict of running away from her past, which we’ve realized mirrors her physical journey of learning to run again.

We also want to explore how much pressure Christy feels to make herself fit the traditional American hero narrative, how much discrimination she undergoes as a former female soldier, and how she deals with her changing body image.

 
 
 
 

need & timeline

 

Production has gone on for two years and wrapped in December 2016. We followed Christy through both surgeries in Mexico, rehab, competing in the Paralympic trials and finally running again on her two prosthetic blades. We anticipate the edit to be an eight month process and have already completed organizing all footage into reels ready for an editor to come in and take over. Additional edits and pick up shoots will be informed by the edit.

We have been successful in completing production through self funding and support from the LEF Foundation and the Maine Arts Commission. Post production is about to begin and we are seeking funding to pay for an editor to complete this film. All of the assistant editing work has been completed. The project is prepped and ready for an editor to come on board. We are looking for $80,000 to hire an editor full time at $2,500 a week for the 8 months we anticipate for the edit. The editor would be first creating a full rough cut that we can send to distributors and funders who are interested in this project but waiting on a rough cut to evaluate and decide what level of partnership they are willing to provide. These organizations include POV and HBO. Total post production budget we are looking to raise is $150,000 which would get us to final cut including color, sound mix, and music.

 
 
 
 

Execution

In order to make the budget constraints work while still covering the breathe of the organization we will run a crew of only director/producer and cinematographer traveling to 3 countries over the course of a few month period starting in November 2017 and wrapping in March 2018. Ideally two of the countries would be done back to back (decreasing flight costs) such as a trip to India (to film with 1 group) followed by Thailand (to film with another) or Peru followed by Guatemala etc. Ideally all the countries we film in would look radically different visually in order to show the breadth of Thinking Beyond Borders. So even though it would be more cost effective to shoot in say Guatemala, Bolivia and Peru..all those countries could look similar to an American audience on film. Ideally we would film in an African location, Asian location and South/Central American location.


Documentary style filming doesn’t necessarily mean, run and gun without regard for composition and lighting. Building on the fundamentals of the documentary form we will be adding a cinematic sensibility. Low depth of field and primarily backlighting will create a sense of the ethereal. By focusing our shooting around the “magic hours” of natural light that happen in the hours just before and after sunrise/sunset we will achieve the golden quality that many films try to fake with big lights. There is a realism and a power to using natural light that is hard to fake. My team’s speciality in working with natural light will serve us well in the ever changing light conditions we will face from India to Ghana. Aerials will be pivotal to juxtapose the intimate moments we will film with our subjects with the sweeping landscapes of the foreign countries they are exploring. We imagine sweeping drone shots across rolling dunes in Morocco and winding tributaries to the Amazon.

 
 
 
 

Onward..

Thanks again for inviting us to brainstorm around this important project. We are excited by the possibilities and look forward to creating a beautiful, informative tool for Thinking Beyond Borders.

We know when agents of social change and storytellers join forces, amazing things can happen.

Questions? Comments? Crazy ideas? Let us know using the form below. 

We look forward to getting to work.

- Ben and the T&F Crew

 
 
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