Michael Oliveri, according to his doctors, is living on borrowed time. They told him that he would not live to see his 26th birthday. Mikey is 28. He has a very rare, unidentified form of Muscular Dystrophy that destroys his muscles after use. He has been wheelchair bound since he was 18, but being unable to walk hasn’t stopped him from ANYTHING. At 24, he left his family and friends in New Jersey and drove 3,000 miles (that's right, DROVE) to live independently in California, where he still lives today. Not wanting to watch the world pass him by he packed up his Mikey Wheels Van and took the driver's seat; the road has not always been smooth, there have been daunting obstacles along the way, but Mikey always seems to find the calm within the storm. He has been zip lining in Costa Rica, Skydiving in California, New Jersey, Tennessee (including a world record 30,370 ft jump), Gliding in Australia, and has traveled to numerous countries. Tell Mikey he can’t do something - I dare you.
A few years ago Mikey’s life changed once again. His sister, Lisa, took him on a Zero Gravity flight, and for the first time since he was 18, he was able to feel completely free and weightless - not enslaved by his illness. Despite being short-lived, this freedom gave Mikey the drive to achieve this sensation once more.
Never one to see any obstacles, Mikey recorded a short home movie to serve as his personal message to Sir Richard Branson, in hopes that he would be able to get a seat on the Virgin Galactic space flight.
It was this video which put Mikey on our radar. Geoff Nelson, the creative force behind Bangstyle and The Werks Project Agency was shown Mikey’s plea to Branson by his assistant, Mikey’s close friend and at one time personal caretaker. Upon his first viewing, Geoff knew he wanted to help any way he could.
"My assistant Meg showed me the video letter that her friend Mikey made for Richard Branson, and I was blown away! We have a company "Get on Up" mantra, and I was so inspired by his story, but more so his attitude and outlook, that I had to get involved. It's the ultimate “Get on Up!” I showed it to the office, and we agreed right then that we would do everything we could to help Mikey get to space. I'm also trying to figure out how to bottle his unbelievable spirit. Everyone could use some of that." – Geoff Nelson
Geoff is an award winning director and designer who directed over 35 episodes of ABC's Home Improvement. He wrote and directed campaigns for every US automaker, beer, burgers, and luxury brands as well as designed and directed launch campaigns for all 4 broadcast networks including affiliate packages, NFL for Fox, Must See TV, and cable: Nip/Tuck, and the Shield. In addition, Geoff has designed and directed motion picture campaigns and trailers for Ivan Reitman, Gary Ross, and Oliver Stone.
Geoff wants to document Mikey’s experience in space, and the path to get there. This documentary will help to immortalize Mikey’s incredible drive and serve as inspiration for what we are capable of accomplishing, regardless of the hand we are dealt.
Our goal is to create a feature length documentary following Mikey's attempt to be the first handicapped person in space aboard Virgin Galactic. The story will chart his journey beginning with the KickStarter project and follow the wild ride of support, opportunity, and obstacles towards his (hopefully) triumphant soaring in space! Using this "A" story space arc we will flashback to the constant and plentiful challenges he has already overcome...ultimately telling his incredible story of hope, passion, persistence and an indomitable spirit that refuses to succumb to the insurmountable odds.We will all be with him when he experiences the sheer joy of weightlessness and the sublime respite from the only thing able to keep him down...gravity. A truly inspirational young man who can teach us all that we already have within us what it takes to Get on Up!
Check out the video to meet Mikey and get a feel for what we are trying to accomplish. Join the mission and follow Mikey on his journey into space. We’ll see you at the launch party!
Risks and challenges
As with anything in film production, complications may arise. We are confident that between the talent and experience of the team we have assembled, that we are fully capable of producing this documentary to it's fullest extent... complete with animations, high production value and gorgeous cinematography. However, we know that there will be challenges.
Documentaries utilize likenesses, brand logos, archival footage, music, etc., all of which will require securing the proper rights. We also must be prepared for extra expenses associated with the time crunch, and a handful of other expenses that come with the territory of making a movie (equipment, travel, crew costs, securing locations, etc.) Additionally there will be many predetermined and yet to be discovered challenges in transporting an MD sufferer to space. There will be physical therapy and training, custom fitted equipment, specialized camera rigs and much more.
At the end of the day, we know what happens when the shuttle launches. Mikey going to space is the end of the story. What happens from today until take off is the real story. The journey from the inception of this goal through the wild ride of emotion and perseverance to its hopeful fulfillment is the story we want to tell.
Much like Mikey, we have a long journey ahead of us in a limited timeframe, but with an incredibly skilled crew and a story that’s worth the effort to be told, we can bring you the ultimate inspirational story that’s literally out of this world.
Yes, with normal space flight Mikey would likely not survive. But neither would the majority of us without intensive training like the astronauts. Virgin Galactic is completely different though. Using state of the art technology and design, Virgin has recreated the spaceship, intended to be used by all. Instead of propelling straight upward with intense g-force and pressure (like we're used to seeing) Virgin Galactic takes off horizontally and from another aircraft at 50,000 feet, meaning the rocket engines only have to work for a very short period of time. Re-entry has been re-invented as well, as Virgin's rocket essentially glides back into the atmosphere, using a feathered wing configuration. The whole process is more similar to a roller coaster than rocket travel.
As a measure of testing, Virgin put 81 people ages 22 to 88, through their pre-flight medical tests and simple training. 93% passed.
VIP Package: You are invited to attend any event, premiere, screening, festival, etc and “wheel” the red carpet with Mikey, dinner, LA screening and after party, Special Edition doc, poster, special thanks, T-shirt, HD download of Documentary.