The true story the short film My Only Son and feature film Light Wounds is based on a story that touches many lives and experiences: it’s about a veteran who returns from the military to help take care of his mother battling ovarian cancer and eventually ends up needing her care himself after experiencing the onset of schizophrenia less than a year after returning from service. Had I known two years ago how difficult it would be to produce the short My Only Son and get to this point – where we are embarking on pre-production of the feature film adaptation of the story, Light Wounds – I might never have started this journey. And I’m sure two years from now I could say the same thing about beginning production of this feature film. Starting out, I knew there was an incredible, true story to tell that had never been told through film and I thought people would just get on board, but it wasn’t that simple.
At my undergraduate graduation ceremony, Wendy Kopp, the founder of Teach for America spoke and I will never forget the message of her speech: she said that if she knew when she started Teach for America how long it would take to get the organization to what it is today, she probably wouldn’t have founded Teach for America over 20 years ago. But she went on to say that it was naïveté that was her asset – and ours. She explained that it was naïve to think that she could accomplish in just a few years what has taken her two decades, but if it weren’t for that hope (or naïveté, if you prefer), she would have never started the organization.
Her speech resonated with me because I know my own naïveté (I prefer “hope”) has guided me every step of my life: believing in lofty ideals like ‘we can make a difference’; ‘we can change the world’; ‘we can inspire humanity’. I worked in politics and government for a few years during and after undergrad. But then, frustrated with the slow pace of politics and inspired by the ability of film and media to impact lives and effect change, I made the switch to working in film. What I’ve learned over the past two years working in film is that it is nearly as slow as the political process – which is saying a lot! I guess it was my hope that got me here and had I known then what I know now, maybe I wouldn’t have… No, I still would have gone on this journey, because it’s what I believe in.
The best advice I can give is to do what you believe in. If your goal is to get an article published about your experience living with mental illness, then submit and revise it as many times as it takes until it gets published. If your goal is to create an organization to help others, then work it until it is built. Whatever your goal, don’t let one or two or twenty rejections stop you. Yes, it’s naïve to think that change will happen overnight and sometimes you feel like you’re screaming and shouting and no one can hear you, but your voice will be heard. If you continue, you will be closer to your goal tomorrow than you were today. Your voice will be heard because you are not alone and you are joining together with others who share your passion. Know that. You will get rejection after rejection, but if you continue to speak up, your voice will be heard.
Writer/Producer, My Only Son and Light Wounds