JOHNNY PHYSICAL LIVES
Directed by Joshua Neuman
Produced by Edet Belzberg, Kimya Dawson and Joshua Neuman
Cinematography by Albert Maysles, Joshua Neuman and Oliver Noble
My name is Joshua Neuman and I’ve created this campaign to raise the remaining funds needed for a short film I’m creating about my late brother, Jonathan. The story, which will combine animation with footage I shot of Jonathan during his year and a half battle with leukemia, will be told through the eyes of his alter ego, a rockstar named “Johnny Physical.” I’m a writer, magazine editor and first-time filmmaker based in Los Angeles.
Jonathan and I grew up in Paramus, NJ, a suburb of New York City. When our mom gave him a Buddy Holly tape in the mid-1980s, his life changed. He listened to that tape over and over and pretty soon music became his thing. He started playing the piano, drums and guitar and dreaming of becoming a rock star. He decided to start a band called “The Physicals” and started calling himself “Johnny Physical.”
When Jonathan arrived at Tufts University in 1998, life started imitating art. He found a guitarist, bassist and drummer and pretty soon “The Physicals” was the biggest sensation on campus. Johnny Physical was the sweet-talking, heartbreaker from the mean streets of New York who was everything that Jonathan wasn’t.
At the beginning of his junior year at Tufts University, Jonathan was diagnosed with leukemia. When he left college in the Fall of 2000 to begin cancer treatment, it seemed like his rock n’ roll dreams were shattered. But, two weeks into chemotherapy, when his blood counts were perilously low and he was at his most vulnerable, he decided to perform a concert in the hospital day room. Watching Jonathan revel in Johnny Physical was the most moving experience of my life. It was the day I first started looking up to him. After the concert, I told him that we should create a film about Johnny Physical. He loved the idea and we decided to title it JOHNNY PHYSICAL LIVES, after the album that first made him fall in love with rock n’ roll, BUDDY HOLLY LIVES.
JOHNNY PHYSICAL LIVES combines the archival material I shot of Jonathan battling cancer with animation to “physically” bring to life Jonathan’s inner world. Through animation, I will communicate what video simply cannot—how Jonathan experienced cancer through the eyes of a rock star.
WHY THIS FILM MATTERS: YOUNG ADULTS AND CANCER
In the un-animated universe, nothing about cancer feels very rock n’ roll. In the U.S. alone, more than 70,000 young adults are diagnosed with the disease each year. While overall survival rates have improved during the past 25 years, for those between the ages of 15 and 29, survival rates have worsened. In addition, young adults with cancer face their own distinct set of emotional challenges, finding themselves utterly dependent at a time in their lives when they’re supposed to be asserting their independence.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Please help me shine a light on this under-served demographic--young adults touched by cancer--by donating funds for the remaining production (animation, sound design, color correction, editing) and distribution costs (outreach, packaging, legal) of JOHNNY PHYSICAL LIVES, a story about courage, imagination, and one very special person, who—more than anything else—had rock n’ roll in his blood.
WHAT IS KICKSTARTER?
Kickstarter is a crowd-source funding platform that allows individuals to make donations towards projects like this film. You can donate any amount you like, even just one dollar, though the rewards only kick in at $10 donations for this project. In exchange for donating funds to support this project, you can receive amazing giveaways (see the right sidebar) that will help my brother's dream come alive.
Please keep in mind that Kickstarter is an “all-or-nothing” platform, meaning that we’ll only be funded if we reach our $30,000 goal. To donate, you can click on the "Back this Project" button on the top right of this page.
Risks and challenges
The fact that so much of my film revolves around animation that I have yet to commission (other than some basic storyboarding), poses a challenge to the timing of the project. The schedule of the film could be delayed by a few weeks (or even a couple of months) as the precise animation and sequencing crystallizes. This is also a deeply personal project—as well as my first documentary film—so one of my greatest challenges is establishing a critical distance from the subject matter while maintaining the emotional sensitivity that inspired me to take it on.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (45 days)