UNDIAGNOSED: MEDICAL REFUGEES - A Groundbreaking Documentary project video thumbnail
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$24,399 pledged of $150,000 goal
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By Crystal Shearman
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About this project

***If you have already seen the movie trailer, skip ahead to 3:19 for a personal message from the Creator & Producer

To view this trailer in other languages, visit www.UndiagnosedFilm.com and click on the CC button in the video window.

HELP US EXCEED OUR $150k GOAL!

What would you do if you were sick everyday for the rest of your life, and no one could tell you why? What if no one could help you? How would you feel if your only option was to remain stuck in an endless loop of disease and helplessness? For many, this is reality. An undiagnosed illness does not discriminate. It is a devastation that lurks in every one of us. Now is the time for awareness and change. This film aims to initiate just such a revolution.

We need $500k to make this documentary as moving and impactful as we envision it to be. Your donations will help us fully convey the power in this important message. $150k of that will ensure that we can finish quickly and meet the Sundance Film Festival submission deadline for 2014. If we exceed our fundraising goals, we can then spend less time fundraising and more time making one of the most important documentaries of the decade! Join the movement! 

Please contribute what you can to this Kickstarter campaign, and help us to spread the word. Send this to family, friends, co-workers and any other networks you belong to. Thanks for your support, together we can make this make this film happen!

About the Movie 

This is a groundbreaking documentary that reveals the untold stories of millions of people living with perplexing illnesses that elude definition and treatment. It is an epidemic of worldwide proportions, yet the undiagnosed population remains virtually ignored. These people exist as medical refugees in a modern health care system, living in a constant state of unknown. There are no specific statistics on how many patients are undiagnosed since this population is too ill-defined, but the figures are undoubtedly in the hundreds of millions. The rare disease community alone is estimated to include 350 million worldwide. On average, it takes 7.6 years for a rare disease patient in the US to receive a proper diagnosis.

There is a desperate need for a change in how doctors view and treat undiagnosed patients, in the amount of time and importance the medical system gives them, and in the way their information is stored and shared. This population holds important answers for current and future medicine, but their medical information has nowhere to go. In today’s time of advanced technology, it is tragic that there is no database to collect undiagnosed cases.

Experience the journey of undiagnosed children and adults as we follow 5 different families who have been fighting for answers, and see what it's like for some of them when they finally get there. Learn what some of the best minds in science and medicine have to say about their struggles when dealing with complex cases, and their perceptions of how healthcare has the potential for improvement. Piecing together the patient stories and the documentary as a whole, we follow the ins-and-outs of the Creator and Co-Director’s own experience. Dr. Katia Moritz is a full-time working mother of three children who became very sick following a routine endoscopy four years ago. After being assessed at all of the best institutions in the country, she still remains undiagnosed.

Through the unique dichotomy of being an undiagnosed patient and a clinician, who for over two decades has specialized in the treatment of severe anxiety disorders, Dr. Moritz affords this film great insight into the difficult dilemmas challenging every health care provider: manifestations of psychiatric symptoms versus unexplained medical symptoms. It is this dilemma that is resulting in millions of undiagnosed individuals being misdiagnosed with psychiatric symptoms, while their original disease goes untreated. Dr. Moritz’s guiding perspective, along with patient stories, their family’s experiences, and doctors’ insight, will be structured together to provide an arc of who the undiagnosed are, what they struggle with, what they need from the medical system, and how they hope to be treated now and into the future.

Dr. Moritz with previously undiagnosed Kevin and his mother
Dr. Moritz with previously undiagnosed Kevin and his mother

It simply is not possible for us to overemphasize the importance of making Undiagnosed: Medical Refugees right now. Each day we are losing lives and precious information that can advance the capabilities of medicine. This documentary will help give the undiagnosed an identity, bringing to light a population that exists only in the shadows. It will allow us to advocate for the patients and their families, and for the medical system struggling to provide them with needed care. The undiagnosed disease population has the ability to play a crucial role in medical history, yet many have nearly forgotten about this unique population. It is time to stand up, speak out, and tell the world their story.

To find out more about the topics covered in this documentary, visit our website @ www.undiagnosedfilm.com

Grass-Roots Passion & Power! 

This has been a true passion project that started at a grass roots level and has gained tremendous momentum. Born out of Dr. Moritz's own undiagnosed experience, she knew she needed to do something to help undiagnosed patients and their doctors. The production team has been filming for over a year now, paying for everything out-of-pocket and without earning salaries- but all the efforts and self-funding endeavors have enabled this incredible project to quickly bloom and gain huge interest from undiagnosed patients, health care professionals, medical institutions and the general population.

Preparing DNA for genetic testing
Preparing DNA for genetic testing

80% of the movie has already been filmed 

To date, we have shot over 250 hours, which encompasses the large majority of footage needed to complete this film. We are integrating the patient stories, doctor interviews, and medical information with archival footage of the history of diagnosis, illustrating how much we don’t know today and the comical absurdity of how little we knew in the recent past. 

We have traveled all over the USA! 

Further enhancing the documentary will be footage from our large collection of interviews with healthcare professionals and international medical conferences. Undiagnosed has traveled to many premier medical facilities across the country to interview and shadow a number of pertinent doctors on their daily routines and medical grand rounds, providing greater understanding of the complex issues that health care providers and the undiagnosed population face.

After almost a year of pursuing the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Undiagnosed Disease Program, we were granted three days of exclusive access to their physicians, staff and patients. This is currently the only established program dedicated to people without diagnosis. The NIH’s unique and comprehensive approach is viewed as a “holy grail” to both the undiagnosed and their doctors.

Through our medical travels, we have also organized a distinguished Scientific Advisory Board of highly regarded and prolifically published physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists who have committed to reviewing and vetting the completed film. Undiagnosed will be made to the highest standards of intellectual rigor, making it possible to provide truthful, vetted information and posit solutions to existing problems while still telling the utterly human and heartbreaking story of those that suffer and just want an answer.

Filming in Washington D.C.
Filming in Washington D.C.

How much will it cost? 

The budget for Undiagnosed is $500,000. For those who are not in the movie business, that is a pretty typical budget for a documentary of this size. In our case, it is actually quite low for the amount of traveling and filming we are doing. We have been able to keep costs down since we own all of the filming equipment and will eventually be taking minimal salaries for the 2 years we will have dedicated to the movie. Since beginning production one year ago, we have funded everything out-of-pocket to allow us to make this movie unhindered and get the project moving. Now we are at the point where we need your help to finish. Every dollar donated will go directly toward finishing this movie.

Building an Undiagnosed Community

One of the most important goals of the documentary is to help build an identity and foster a community for the undiagnosed. Most diseases have communities of patients, families and health care professionals that support each other. Take cancer for instance- there are thousands of support groups dedicated to raising money, awareness, community building, advice, comfort and empowerment for cancer victims. These communities mean the world to their patients and family members, some of which would not have made it through their treatment without them. Being “undiagnosed” is not commonly considered to be an identity, but it should be. There are millions of people out there who need that interim identity to empower them, provide hope, and draw support from.     

Undiagnosed’s first step towards building a community was an outdoor recreation camp that we organized at the National Ability Center in Park City, UT. Five families from all over the country joined us for an incredible weekend of activities that were curtailed for their special needs- everything from skiing, horseback riding, rock climbing and hot spring swimming to campfire sing-alongs, bowling, and simply recreating with other undiagnosed families. It was wonderful to see the siblings making friends- these children have never met other children who were undiagnosed! The impact that the camp had on the families was astounding, and it was a great way to foster a sense of community. Due to the high demand and success of the camp, we will be making this an annual event. To view a fun, short video on the camp, visit:

www.undiagnosedfilm.com/camp.html

1st Annual Undiagnosed Camp in Park City, UT was a hit!
1st Annual Undiagnosed Camp in Park City, UT was a hit!

 Funding Success So Far

Since we began fundraising in April, we have had an incredible and heartwarming response of $23,000 in donations from patients, families, doctors, healthcare professionals and the general public. Undiagnosed was selected by the Utah Film Center to receive Fiscal Sponsorship. This designation is only bestowed on a select few projects of particular cultural or social importance, and the projects that apply to the Utah Film Center are rigorously screened. Thanks to the UFC’s fiscal sponsorship, we were able to accept a generous grant form the University of Utah School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics for $25,000! The support of institutions like the UFC, and University of Utah, along with individual backers, is what we need to make this film fly!

How long will it take to finish?

Our goal is to have a rough cut of the film done in time to submit to Sundance Film Festival in September 2014, and a final cut ready by January 2015. The only challenge for meeting these deadlines is getting the funding we need to stay on track!

Where can you see the movie?

Undiagnosed will be submitted to film festivals all over the world and will primarily screen at festivals for the first half of 2015. Along with seeking the interest of major distribution companies, we will be submitting to outlets like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Instant Video. We will also be cutting a 50 min version to shop around to TV networks such as HBO, Discovery Health, TLC, and PBS. Ultimately, the goal is to be picked up by a major distribution company so that Undiagnosed can reach the largest audience possible.

Dr. Moritz has committed to a country-wide tour with the documentary to present it in as many hospitals, universities and healthcare facilities as possible, and to generate audience discussion on the undiagnosed issue. This tour will be paramount to changing the way undiagnosed patients are viewed and treated in current health care.

Want to become a Partner or Sponsor? 

Partner and sponsorship opportunities are available! Please contact info@UndiagnosedFilm.com to inquire within. This is a great way to support and align your organization with a groundbreaking documentary film, and at the same time benefit from incredible marketing opportunities.

Want to learn more?

To find out more about the topics covered in this documentary, visit our website @ www.UndiagnosedFilm.com

www.facebook.com/UndiagnosedFilm    LIKE us on Facebook

www.twitter.com/UndiagnosedFilm         FOLLOW us on Twitter  

Created & Co-Directed by Dr. Katia Moritz

Directed & Cinematography by Nicholas Miller

Produced by Crystal Shearman

Risks and challenges

With 80% of the movie already shot, and a talented production team that is committed to seeing this project to its successful end- the risks are low, but we do need funding to hire the necessary people to complete production. With the $150k from this campaign we will be able to hire the right editor, composer, colorist and sound designer to bring the film home. Our only challenge that lies ahead is raising the funds to finish the last 20% of filming and editing in time to submit to the Sundance Film Festival in September. The faster we raise the funds, the more time and effort we can put into making this the best documentary possible.

This is where you can help! Thank you so very much for your support!

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Funding period

- (40 days)