This film is a documentary portrait of passion, love and creative inspiration in the shadow of terminal illness. It follows musician Jack Mittleman as he creates his last album 'English River.'
Having filmed Jack over a period of three years, I believe his music kept him alive and that this is potentially inspiring to everybody. It's a cliché to say people are brave in the face of death, but I believe Jack had unusual courage; the courage to let go and forgive.
I was drawn to follow Jack because I knew he was a fighter.
What I didn't know when I started was how he had a gift for living life in the fullness of the moment, and that made his last years precious, not painful for those around him. His enthusiasm was infectious, even in the darkest moments. I admired him because he had fortitude. If things went wrong, as they often had done in his past, Jack asked the question:
''Where's the lesson?''
My film is the journey of the last three years of Jack's life, before he passed away in 2013. Its message is simple; creativity is the essence of life, and when you are in touch with it you are truly alive.
It takes real courage to record songs when your lungs are failing. Jack however was never "dying," he was always living; living in the most focused and intense way that many people don't come close to. It was never his style to fall into a beige routine and lose sight of his dream; the dream of creating something beautiful.
THE HISTORY OF THE PROJECT
One day in 2010, over a cup of tea, Jack told me he was hoping to record his new album at Abbey Road; spiritual mecca for all Beatles fans (and he was the most enthusiastic of fanatics) Would I film him when he got there? I said no; I would be taking the photos.
Over the next few weeks I changed my mind, as I thought it might be more interesting to film the journey to Abbey Road. There was no guarantee that Jack would make it, given his cancer diagnosis a few months earlier, but I knew he would be giving it his best.
Over the following 3 years we embarked on a much more intense path than either of us had anticipated. I often wanted to stop, not least because I felt like an intruder into precious time. But something kept me going.
Basically, watching someone truly living in the moment, whose creativity and raw passion were so strong became magnetic for me. I filmed him recording with some of Sweden’s finest musicians, and I was even more privileged to record the love story of his life, the loss of which had not brought him down. I admired that.
Why does this film count? Because living a positive life is not always easy, even for those of us who are not ill. Sometimes you need inspiration.
We need your support to help pay for music licensing rights, post production, and festival fees. Beyond these, we want to build an audience for the film, and for Jack's music.
Risks and challenges
Completing this film depends on getting post production finance and
supportive creatives to help finish on a small budget. This involves asking people for their expertise and time for very little, and so we may have to wait until those willing to help can fit us in. For this reason I have left the delivery dates late. Any extra funds raised will go towards these post production expenses, and to pay for festival applications.
- (35 days)