The Heimlich Maneuver was introduced to the world 40 years ago this month. That summer, as reports of people being saved from choking to death filtered in from around the country, news of this amazing lifesaving technique spread quickly. Today, after saving countless lives, the Heimlich Maneuver is ingrained in our culture. President Reagan, Halle Berry and Dick Vitale were each saved from choking because of it. Whereas Tom Brokaw, Woody Allen and, most recently, Clint Eastwood have all saved a life using the Maneuver.
Some estimates claim the technique has saved 50,000, or even 100,000 lives. That total averages out to 7 lives saved every day for 40 years! In fact, it's likely that you know someone who is alive today because of the Maneuver...your sibling, your friend, your colleague, or perhaps even yourself.
Why is it then that so few seem to know from where this life-saving maneuver originates? "Some Austrian dude from the 1880s?" is a common guess/response we've often heard.
This documentary hopes to change that misconception by introducing, or as it were, re-introducing America to the man behind this maneuver - Dr. Henry J. Heimlich. There was a time when Dr. Heimlich was perhaps the most famous doctor in America and his name soon landed in the dictionary. Yet, there's more to this man than just the Maneuver. Dr. Heimlich was a WWII veteran, a chest surgeon and a creative thinker who devised other medical innovations beyond helping choking victims. All of this adds up to a long track record of saving lives.
How is it, then, that a prolific lifesaver could become so controversial? As Dr. Heimlich himself will tell you, innovators are often criticized. "You're not being original if all your peers agree with what you're doing," he once said. Case in point, it took more than a decade for some of the biggest organizations in the medical establishment to endorse the Maneuver. As one of our interview subjects explained, "Inertia is a very powerful force."
Yet, later in his career, the man with the household name began to endorse medical practices that many deemed irresponsible. Chief among these were Dr. Heimlich's approval of malariotherapy, whereby ill patients are injected with malaria in an attempt to cure another disease. Furthermore, a recommendation that his famous Maneuver had applications beyond choking cases was also met with intense skepticism.
These endorsements from Dr. Heimlich triggered negative media attention that only increased after a mysterious critic brought forth more accusations of irresponsible behavior and even fraud. The identity of this critic would shock Dr. Heimlich and his family. Eventually, the American Red Cross, an early Heimlich skeptic, stopped recommending the Heimlich Maneuver as the primary response to choking in their lifesaving courses.
Now in his 90s, Dr. Heimlich fights to maintain his legacy as a prolific lifesaving pioneer. The recent criticisms have harmed his reputation while the Red Cross' demotion of his famous Maneuver threatens to scrub his very name from the national consciousness within a few generations.
Is the Film Finished?
After watching the trailer for this project, some have speculated that the film is nearly complete. While that response is the ultimate form of flattery, the fact of the matter is we remain in the very early stages of making this documentary.
The good news is that we have conducted an extensive interview with our primary character, sitting with Dr. Heimlich for several days in the autumn of 2013. During that time, we secured a few additional interviews with Heimlich family members, friends and associates. We were also lucky enough to capture stories from those with personal connections to the Maneuver, such as Cincinnati Reds Third Baseman Todd Frazier who saved a choking man's life in a restaurant in 2012.
However, in order to properly tell this very nuanced story, many interviews remain. We have our sights on medical experts, journalists, critics, scientists and even some celebrities. We're still searching for certain military personnel, more stories about personal encounters with Dr. Heimlich and we will continue to dig through the archives to find the best material possible. The road ahead remains a challenge but our team is prepared to meet it.
Who is Making this Film?
This project is spearheaded by Jason Schmidt and his production company, Media Schmedia. Schmidt is an award-winning editor with many high-profile documentaries on his resume. For a complete credit list, please visit Jason's website. The Maneuver marks his first feature length film as a Director.
Joining him on this team is a collection of talented colleagues, friends and even family. Check out the team photo below for faces that may be familiar to you.
What is Crowdfunding?
Kickstarter is the most popular platform for a concept known as "crowdfunding." This relatively new idea allows a business venture or creative project to conduct a fundraising campaign by soliciting donations from friends, family, colleagues, and even complete strangers, in order to get a project up on its feet. There is a catch though. If we don't raise our goal of $30,000, then we receive exactly….nuthin'!!! So every dollar helps! Your credit card won't be charged until we receive complete funding.
Zero Dollars? Really?!
Yes, we cannot stress this enough. If we fail to hit our goal, we get $0. Your credit cards are never charged. The life of the project is put in jeopardy and this story may never get its proper due. We need your help to make sure that does not happen. If we exceed our goal, all the better. There is no upper limit to this campaign, only a floor that must be met.
Where Your Money Goes
As you may know, making a film is expensive. As a true independent production, though, we've learned some great ways to maximize our resources and cut some corners. Plus, most of us are making no money at all on this project and the few who have been paid took subpar rates - all because we believe in this story. Since our director is deeply rooted in the world of post-production, what is a normally a costly portion of a project has been reduced to the bare minimum. And we have one of the best experts in the industry finding great rates on outside footage. However, at the end of the day, filmmaking still remains an expensive endeavor.
Although we are headquartered in New York City, this story sends the production team to Ohio, California, Florida, New England, D.C., Georgia, Texas, the Pacific Northwest and several other places around the country. We'll need funds for that travel, as well as equipment rentals, crew compensation, media drives, archival footage screeners and many other crucial elements of the filmmaking process.
How to Make a Pledge
Simply click the green "Back this Project" button in the upper right corner of this website. Or, click the green gear icon next to your desired reward. After you select your pledge level and reward, you'll be directed to Amazon payments, where it will feel just like you're making a purchase on Amazon.com. Until we reach our goal, your credit card will not be charged. Be sure to complete the Amazon checkout process or your contribution will not be recorded.
What do you get for donating? First and foremost, the satisfaction of helping this great project keep moving forward. You'll also have the team's collective gratitude.
And yes, we also have some fun rewards to send as a thank you - starting with our original retro-style artwork from South Carolina artist Margaret Mattox. Get a signed poster with this design.
But that's not all. We also have t-shirts, DVDs, hats, books, signed baseball memorabilia and other special rewards. There are also opportunities to host a private screening, make your own film better with some professional advice or become a movie producer with an on-screen credit.
And don't forget the unique poster from Portland artist Grey Jay, combining the Maneuver with the Tango. This is the perfect juxtaposition of Dr. Heimlich and his late father-in-law, dancing entrepreneur Arthur Murray.
The best part of all of this? All of your contributions are eligible for a 2014 tax deduction, courtesy of our 501(c)(3) fiscal co-sponsor - Filmmakers Collaborative.
A Section for Big Shots Only
If playing an even bigger role in this film interests you, there are other opportunities available beyond this Kickstarter campaign. For example, elite credits are available for larger donations. Be a Co-Executive Producer with your own credit page…or even better, a full Executive Producer! Or secure a presenting sponsorship for your corporation. These large contributions are also eligible for a tax deduction, if desired, via our 501(c)(3) fiscal co-sponsor, Filmmakers Collaborative. For more information, contact Jason Schmidt, or visit our website or contact Jason Schmidt or Filmmakers Collaborative.
Risks and challenges
We thank you for your support. New risks and challenges will pop up throughout this project. Our next step, though, relies on the success of this campaign. Thank you again.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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