The first battlefield amputee of the Civil War would end up changing prosthetics forever.
18-year-old James Hanger loses his leg in Philippi, Virginia, just before the first land battle of the Civil War, leaving him a broken man. Returning home depressed and unable to connect with the world he once knew, James laments his losses: his mobility, his fiancée, his purpose. But the crafty and determined young man changes his future when he dedicates himself to designing a new leg. Through trial and error, he uses barrel staves to build the very first prosthetic limb that includes articulated knee and ankle joints, and with it, James is able to rebuild himself.
James’ invention – the Hanger Limb – is the basis of modern prosthetic design. His name and work continue today through Hanger Clinic, one of the leading prosthetic services in America.
Genre: Historical Drama
Expected running time: 15 minutes
Production dates: June 7 – 10 + June 14 – 17
Filming location: in and around Los Angeles, CA
Funding: partly with a grant from the Sloan Foundation, partly with help from you!
I’ve always been fascinated with the Civil War. When I was young my family visited Gettysburg. I became fascinated with our torn country. Who were the people fighting? Families fighting families, neighbors, and friends. There are endless stories. So why this one?
In a way I share a common experience with James Hanger. Though I’ve never served in the military and I’m not an amputee, in my late twenties I experienced real loss for the first time. It turned my world upside down, made me question my worth, my choices, and my life moving forward. I was in crisis. The only way to take control was to change my stake in the world.
James Hanger faced a critical point in his life where he was either going to waste away in despair or use his frustration, intelligence, and ingenuity to change the course of his life. And by doing so, he has changed the lives of all those who benefit from his design.
While we may have very little in common, I relate to the leap he made in his life. It’s touching, inspiring, and motivating. That’s why I want to tell this story.
This story would be impossible to tell without the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Production Grant. This process has given me opportunity to work with artists and advisors I would have otherwise not had the chance to work with at school. Also, approaching the story from a science perspective has opened me up to all sorts of storytelling opportunities and has given me a unique insight in the human condition and the potential fusion of science and humanity.
Watch our Kickstarter video or take a look at Risks & Challenges below to hear more about specific departments.
Risks and challenges
Filmmaking is a challenging and expensive collective dream of this crew, so we’ve painstakingly planned our production to mitigate potential problems. This includes a refined budget, schedule, and shooting plan, crafted with input from our insanely talented and experienced professors at USC School of Cinematic Arts. As is the case with any film, there are always speed bumps and narrow bridges to cross, but with your help, we believe we can make this movie happen no matter what. Here are a couple of the things we’re most excited to figure out:
Locations: a period piece is nothing without its world. Finding 1860s Virginia-passing landscapes and buildings in Southern California is a difficult and costly task.
Art Department + Wardrobe: historical dramas need authenticity in their design, and we have an amazing (and experienced!) group of designers helping us to create and source materials that ring true to the period, but this is a big expense.
And the hardest part of the design is… the Prosthetic Leg! With drawings and photos of early Hanger Limb designs provided to us by Hanger Clinic, we have the amazing challenge of building James’ very first iteration of his jointed prosthetic leg. The fusion of art and science will be thrilling to see… but it won’t be cheap.
With our grant from the Sloan Foundation, we have a little head start – and therefore the dedication to carry through to the end – on all these challenging areas of the film. We just need a little more to make it to the finish line. You can depend on us – our big, experienced crew ☺ – to troubleshoot any problem that comes our way and bring this film to completion.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (25 days)