A Love Worth Giving is a documentary that tells the story of newly married Sam and Luke, a young couple madly in love. But Sam has Cystic Fibrosis and her health is getting worse, her only hope of survival is a double lung transplant.
Together they build a life around the physical and emotional challenges of waiting for a donor, a roller coaster journey of false alarms and hospital stays. But when organs can't be found in time, Luke is left to continue alone and make sense of their life together.
This short documentary is a life-affirming tale of love and loss that will highlight the need for organ donation. After four years of filming, the project is ready to enter the final stages of post-production. This means editing, composing music, mixing audio, grading pictures, designing graphics, building a website and planning an outreach campaign...
..but to do this I need your help to raise the funds to finish the film and release it to audiences worldwide.
More than 10,000 people need an organ transplant in the UK, but 3 of those will die waiting every day.
Before meeting Sam and Luke – before shooting this film – I wasn’t aware of the shortage of organ donors. The UK operates on an opt-in system where you have to declare your wish to be a organ donor and it's for this reason that I believe raising awareness of the need for donors is so important.
The death of a registered donor could transform the lives of up to nine people and there are many conditions – including Cystic Fibrosis – where patients are dependent on the generosity of organ donors for successful treatment.For more information and to join the Organ Donation Register in the UK – click HERE
I met Sam and Luke when my wife and I moved to Hampshire. I had no idea Sam had Cystic Fibrosis but as our friendship grew, we were drawn into their struggle and the impact Sam’s disease was having on their lives. Sam needed new lungs and we were all part of the wait.
One night, Sam was called to the hospital as a pair of lungs had become available, but unfortunately they found out that the organs weren't viable and the next morning they were sent home.
When I heard that the call was a false alarm, I asked myself: why don't more people donate their organs when they die? The answer, of course, is far from simple but it got me thinking – wouldn’t more people want to be organ donors if they knew that thousands like Sam and Luke, are waiting for a transplant?
I thought Sam would get her new lungs, in fact we all did. We all lived with this expectation, especially Luke. Despite never wanting to mix my private life with my filmmaking, I decided to start documenting their journey. I filmed with the intention of following their story through to a successful transplant and hoped this would somehow show why organ donation was a positive choice to make in death.
But the pool of available organs was extremely small and Sam’s condition was deteriorating. The disease had progressed so far that it destroyed her lungs and in April 2013, she stopped breathing entirely. Her wait for an organ donor had taken too long.
When Sam died waiting for new lungs, we all went into shock. If you've ever stood beside a friend who is grieving you know there's little you can do to help, except perhaps listen. So that's what I did. I put the camera down and tried my best to just support Luke.
As the months passed, Luke began to channel his grief in quite an exceptional way – he began to paint. These weren't any old paintings, they were extraordinary landscapes flowing with life and emotion. Luke was seeking some kind of redemption through the act of painting and in doing so, he was creating something beautiful.
I looked on as Luke tried to make sense of his short life with Sam and I watched him paint from the the depths of his soul. I began to film again, only this time in silence. And I asked myself - could Sam and Luke's tragic story raise awareness of the need for more organ donors?
I struggled to visualise the finished film - was this about grief? And if so, who would watch that? Then last year, one cold December morning, Luke and I wandered down to my local beach where he found the courage to tell me his story on camera, as he now sees it.
This was it, this was the film. An extraordinary insight into a couple’s private life - their hopes, their dreams and their loss. A tragic love story.
Through telling Sam and Luke’s story, I hope to encourage others to think about donating their organs when they no longer need them. We can all make a difference, even after our death.
The intermediate tiers of our rewards include a unique canvas bag printed with the film's artwork and a limited-edition Giclee print of Luke's painting, a high quality print that you can frame and hang in your home as well as a personal thank you in the film credits.
For the top reward, you will be an Executive Producer on the film and we will bring A Love Worth Giving directly to your community with a screening of the short film itself at a venue of your choice. Luke and I will be there to take a Q&A session and discuss the issues raised in the film.
Whatever your pledge, however you support this film, I’ll be eternally thankful for your support!
Risks and challenges
One of the biggest challenges in finishing a film is co-ordinating the team of creative freelancers, many of which will be working remotely like the graphics designer and the film score composer. Thankfully I was fortunate enough to build great relationships with some very talented people when I made the award-winning feature documentary Janapar: Love on a Bike. For A Love Worth Giving, I will be using exactly the same team.
In order to keep costs down I've set quite a tight schedule for the production process and delays at any stage will inevitably have a knock-on effect. But I have allowed for a bit of over-run in case this happens. The plan is to complete the film by the summer and enter it into some of the major film festivals for this kind of work. Following this we will plan the release and distribution for later in the year.
Next we will be dealing with the volume of rewards that will need to be prepared and dispatched! Luckily there are plenty of friends on hand to help with the packing.
You can check out my previous film at janapar.comLearn about accountability on Kickstarter
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