Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Filmmaker Patrick O'Brien Documents His Life with Terminal Illness

It's October. On the occasion of his 34th birthday, Maryland resident Patrick O'Brien is not only happy to be alive, he is beaming over the near completion of his first major film.

Only a few years ago, Patrick, then known as the wildly outrageous "Transfatty" to the New York City creative underground, could not have imagined a more perfect or compelling story line. Always fascinated with the disabled (his short film "Deep in the Heart of Nexus" chronicles a young disabled woman getting dressed), he had long searched for a story like his own. At age 34, he never thought he would be on the opposite side of the camera, much less that he would be enjoying it.

Patrick began to chronicle his terminal illness in the fall of 2006, just months after receiving his ALS diagnosis. Leaving the high paying world of commercial directing wasn't easy, but necessary to focus on his life's work: a feature length documentary about the disease. ALS, commonly referred to as "Lou Gehrig's disease", aggressively kills motor neuron cells in the body causing paralysis and eventual death, with the average lifespan being three to five years. Knowing time was in short supply, Patrick gathered his friends and other creatives to start documenting the disease as it unleashed itself upon Patrick's body, the film's moving canvas.

Currently in post production, the film will highlight all aspects of the disease with humor and grim honesty, something Patrick is well known for as a director. Controversies aside, Patrick hopes the film will get the attention of the media to spread the word about a disease which has little research funding. From protesting naked outside the White House in his wheelchair to having a true "love child", every step of his journey has been filmed, much of it captured on breathtaking 35mm film.

True to form, Patrick titled the upcoming film "Everything Will Be Okay…or How I Learned to Transcend Form, Live in the Now, and Make Love in My Electric Wheelchair." His ever loyal fans are looking forward to the new film, which will not fall far from the Transfatty tree. The man who gave them "Three breasted paraplegic DJ" and "Supermodel Meat Sports" would give them nothing less.

"Everything Will Be Okay" is a fiscally sponsored program through the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA).

About Patrick O'Brien:
Patrick O'Brien is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts film program in New York City. He currently resides in Silver Spring, Maryland with his family while he completes his documentary.

1 comment:

Ananda said...

What a compelling story. Thanks for sharing Patrick's creative efforts and life experience.