Based on real events, Revision is a narrative short film written and directed by Garrett Johnston. Below, you can read the full story of how this project came to be.
I met James by shear coincidence. I was brand new to the big apple and faithfully abiding by my 3 month "never turn down an invitation" rule when a tall, thin black man sauntered through my neighborhood coffee shop with the confidence of a drag queen and asked me for an interview. Who was I to say no? I was, in fact, bound by the 3 month rule.
After a long discussion and an awkward interview, James and I decided on a date to meet again. Only this time, I would turn the camera on him. One week later, James rocked my world. We stared at the steps of his grandmother's brownstone in Bed-Stuy, filled to the brim with every family member in the tri-state area. Late in his teens, James started experimenting with drugs, as many of us do. Slowly, experimentation became full time study, and the habit got expensive. What's a teenage boy to do with a growing addiction and a 2 inch pocket knife? Rob a flower shop. Three in fact. And, as the proverbial saying goes, third time's a charm. Queue the handcuffs and hit the fast forward button.
Two years later, James stepped out of prison as an adult with clear eyed confidence. The first step in his new life was sorting out his sexuality. Before jail, James had dabbled with boyfriends, but it was the the late 80s and to quote James, "gayness was new...". So, he sat his family down and waltzed out of the closet. Much to his chagrin, everyone took it in stride... except Estelle, James' grandmother. Now, this wasn't much of surprise as the two never saw eye to eye, so James moved on feeling more himself than ever.
Two years into his new life, a curve ball left James scattered across the floor a Brooklyn community clinic. He was diagnosed HIV positive. "This is not my life. I am not THAT guy." This mantra would follow him down a hallway of apathy and denial. He couldn't stomach this change, until his landlord found him convulsing on the floor of his apartment from an untreated flu.
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James opens his eyes in Woodhull Medical Center with a month of his life unaccounted for. The seizure had left him in a coma and taken close to 90% of his memory. Through a great deal of therapy and support from friends and family James recovered. But, the relationships weren't the same. He had no context for those closest to him, and connections began to fade along with his resolve for life.
Meanwhile, Estelle's situation was nearing a boiling point, as her alzheimer's was passing the point of family care and her pride made the situation no easier. James and Estelle hadn't seen one another since the accident, but the two rarely spoke anyway.
That was until one fated family get together.
James found, when the two got together, their lack of memory became an asset. All history was gone. No longer encumbered by the past, they were free to share a moment in the present. They could be family again. Granted, the kind of family that forgets each other in ten minute intervals but none the less, family. These two people spent a lifetime building a catalogue of memories that led to a broken relationship. But, when all history was erased they were free to share a single moment.
So, as you can see, I really had no choice. It was my duty to make something. If it contains at least an ounce of the poignancy in James' story, then I'll sleep tight.
Thanks you SO much for taking the time to view my Kickstarter page, and I hope this has convinced you to donate.
The crew is ready. The cast is ready. All we need is you!