About this project
We have succesfully reached out goal and we can't thank you enough, you've all made us so happy this holiday season! But let's not slow down. We've carefully budgeted the feature length documentary at $72,000, so going beyond the Kickstarter goal will be a great thing. We will be able to tell the story with better integrity with every dollar that is donated, so please continue to tell your friends and family. Small donations add up quick and you'll see every dime in the quality on the screen. Love to all!
Unconditional Hope is not just a documentary film about one of the most courageous and extraordinary women I know—my mother—it’s also a movement and campaign designed to inspire more than one million people to live with hope, despite whatever challenges any of us may face.
When my mother was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease in 1981, the reality of the situation was a hard fact she was forced to come to terms with. She could have given up, accepted the diagnosis, and gotten her affairs in order. She chose to adopt Hope Beyond the Conditions of her circumstance and continues to lead an epic life with ALS.
The existence of Unconditional Hope creates the possibility for something better and inspires a commitment to a higher quality of life across the globe.
It is a campaign to engage life with Unconditional Hope regardless of the magnitude of peril or fear we face.
We want to light the world on fire with Unconditional Hope. And we couldn’t have a more inspiring example: Mariah Gladis, therapist, mother, wife, and one the longest living survivors of Lou Gehrig’s disease on the planet.
What would it mean to live with Unconditional Hope while suffering from ALS, Cancer, or HIV? In a destroyed economy? In a culture of depression, ADD, multiple wars and school shootings? In a time when resignation and cynicism seems more accepted than ever? What would be possible if Unconditional Hope spread across the globe like a wonderful epidemic? Let’s find out together.
Can I tell you why I'm making this movie?
My mother was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease 31 years ago and told she couldn't have children because the physical toll of labor and birth would hasten the progression of the disease. My older brother Luke was born a year later, and I was born a year after that. I owe my life to her defiance of that diagnosis and its consequent death sentence. She calls it sacred denial.
Since that day, when she was given a 10% chance of surviving 2 years, she has gone on to win dozens of honors and awards, including the Living Legacy Award - joining previous recipients such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Maya Angelou, and Mother Theresa. She has used the urgency of that devastating diagnosis to develop a new method of psychotherapy that efficiently and dramatically facilitates the healing of emotional wounds. Mariah’s work has transformed the lives of thousands.
I’m making this movie as a tribute to her, as a permanent record of a special craft of life-saving psychotherapy, and as an answer to the question of why strangers stop me on the street to tell me “Your mother saved my life.”
The film also reflects my desire to improve the quality of life for those around me. A wise person once said to me: "If you want to be happy, make everyone around you happy." These days, there seems to be a never-ending battle between hope and cynicism, resignation and fighting back. By examining life through the lens of this form of Gestalt Psychology, I hope to reveal a methodology that allows people to see the world as they choose -- without the filter of the past and the anxiety of the future – so they can answer for themselves the very same question my mother asks in each of her first sessions: “What's important now?”
The Wounded Healer is a story of extreme courage in the face of life and death, the inspiring journey of one woman's commitment to repairing emotional traumas and empowering people to reclaim their lives as their own.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST TO MAKE THIS MOVIE?
The feature length documentary currently is budgeted at $72,000. Kickstarter is "all or nothing," so we thought it wise to begin with a smaller number to get us moving. We're all nervous either way! We need everyone's help to spread the word.
*Copies of the production budget are available upon request.
CAN I DONATE TO THIS MOVIE OUTSIDE OF KICKSTARTER?
Yes! Tax Exempt donations are accepted.
WHAT'S THE PLAN?
We will film a psychotherapy workshop, led by Mariah, with twelve participants, each of whom is dealing with a different emotional crisis. This workshop will be the backbone of the documentary, with segments dedicated to telling Mariah's story embedded in the bones of the workshop chapters.
The issues are both personal and universal, ranging from childhood sexual abuse, to divorce, to the loss of a parent or child. These are ordinary people, not actors, not contestants, who bravely share their life stories in order to transform their lives. As they gain insight into a specific trauma that has had a negative impact on their lives they heal not only themselves but, by extension, their families, friends and loved ones.
The workshop will be covered with three cameras, documenting each person’s experience in three parts: an introduction to the trauma, a method of dealing with the trauma, and a resolution. We will interview select participants before and after the workshop, and gather “in the moment interviews” during the work itself. It’s a dramatic format that is both cinematic and uplifting.
For instance: a woman, locked in a closet by her father when she was young, developed a distrust of people as a survival mechanism. Now, later in life, she’s no longer locked in a closet, but continues to distrust people. Her efforts to cultivate a relationship with a man are hampered by that distrust. It is keeping her from having a family and children of her own, leaving her desperate and unfulfilled. The walls she created to protect herself from her trauma are now serving to imprison her. She needs to know: there is hope.
As a thirty-year survivor of Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), Mariah knows the terror of terminal illness and the fortitude required to beat the odds. ALS is a progressively debilitating neuromuscular disease that leads to wasting of the muscles, paralysis and death. Rather than succumb, Mariah has used her personal struggle to deepen her understanding of the pain in others. Her love, courage, stamina and passion for her life, her family and her work are truly magical and continue to draw people to seek her counsel.
The audience will have the opportunity to witness deep moments of the human struggle while identifying with the client’s capacity to change and be empowered in a psychotherapeutic workshop setting. Those watching will have a chance to renew their hope for making changes in their personal lives while witnessing the capacity of a diverse group of people to transcend differences and gather together for the purpose of recovery.
The audience can enter into a relationship with Mariah that will engage their own courage, and begin to develop a commitment of living well despite life challenges or perceived personal failings. Audiences will be inspired by Mariah’s audacity in love and her stamina and passion for life. They will be inspired by the strength it takes for Mariah, as a handicapped person, to get out of bed each morning to pursue her daily routine, and function well while being attended to by a personal aide.
WHO WE ARE
COLEMAN GLADIS is a film and television director living in Los Angeles. Coleman began directing and producing corporate video and web content for Janis Productions and 93.3 WMMR after graduating from Ithaca College in 2006 with a degree in Cinema Production. He has since produced, directed, and composed scores for film projects, music videos, and commercial spots. Since moving to Los Angeles in 2008, he has worked in production on feature films and television series including the Broken Lizard Production of Freeloaders and The Bachelor. He recently completed his third season in production on AMC’s Mad Men.
RON GLADIS is a fine arts photographer who has exhibited his work regionally and abroad. Ron taught and guest lectured at The University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, the Philadelphia College of Performing Arts, The Philadelphia Art Alliance, the Academy of Fine Arts, and was Photographic Artist in Residence at Widener University in Pennsylvania. His work is in various private and public collections. Ron is Executive Director of G2 Pictures, an award winning film and video Production Company that he founded in 1988. The company creates film, video, and computer-based multimedia training programs for companies such as DuPont, Aventis Pharmaceuticals, and General Electric. His credits also include commercial television productions for McDonalds, the Pennsylvania Lottery, and Subaru of America.
Mariah Fenton Gladis was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease in 1981. ALS is a fatal, neuro-degenerative disease that attacks nerve cells and pathways to the brain and spinal cord. She was given a 10% chance of surviving the next two years.
Mariah currently has a full time psychotherapy practice and is Clinical Director and owner/operator of the Pennsylvania Gestalt Center, which she founded in 1976. It was the first Gestalt Psychotherapy Center in Pennsylvania. With a B.A. from Temple University in 1970, Cum Laude, and an M.S.S. degree from Bryn Mawr School of Social Work and Social Sciences in 1972, she is currently an internationally renowned workshop leader, trainer, and lecturer and conducts five psychotherapy weekends a year locally, two ten-day workshops a year at Esalen Institute in California, and offers weekend and weeklong seminars in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Maine, Arizona, Hawaii, Germany, Ireland, the West Indies and the U.S. Virgin Islands. She published her first book, Tales Of A Wounded Healer™ in 2008, the first accessible manual of Gestalt Therapy for mental health clinicians and non-clinicians alike.
As a trainer, Mariah taught the staff of Mirmont Drug and Alcohol Center, the Kripalu Health Center, Esalen Institute and medical residents at The Psychiatric Institute at Pennsylvania Hospital in the use of Gestalt Therapy with their clients. She has been a guest lecturer at Immaculata College Graduate Program, the Villanova Counseling Department, Hahnemann Hospital’s Department of Psychiatry, and a teambuilding retreat facilitator for the Home Health Department of Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia.
She was named Social Worker Of The Year in Pennsylvania in 2001, and in 2005, she was given an alumni award from Marymount College for Lifetime Excellence. In 2006, at a ceremony in New York, she was given the International Stevie Award For Women In Business for Lifetime Achievement. In 2009, Mariah was named one of “Pennsylvania’s Best 50 Women in Business” by Governor Edward G. Rendell and five Pennsylvania business journals for her work as an international Gestalt psychotherapist, Gestalt trainer, workshop leader, motivational speaker, ALS advocate, author and champion for women.
In 2005 Mariah was presented the “Hope and Courage” award from the Philadelphia Chapter of the ALS Association Serving as an inspiration to newly diagnosed ALS patients. She has also received Citations from the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives and the State Senate for Recognition of Community Service, the Chairman’s Choice Award for Citizenship from the Great Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce, and an Advocacy Award from Greater Philadelphia Chapter of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association for her work as a lobbyist to Congress in Washington D.C. on behalf of patients and their families. In 2008, she was awarded the prestigious Living Legacy Award by the Women’s International Center in San Diego, California, which celebrates the accomplishments and positive, lasting contributions of women.
Risks and challenges
LOU GEHRIG'S DISEASE
ALS will be a challenge for us to overcome, just as it is in her everyday practice. It presents challenges morning till night, and throughout the night. From the moment someone gets her up in the morning, dresses her, washes her face, feeds her, and on into the night.
The Wounded Healer documentary currently is in a pre-production and funding stage. We have been gathering footage for three years, covering both professional work and Mariah’s personal life. We have a large stock of archival footage, from the time of Mariah’s diagnosis with ALS to the present. Currently, we are sifting through this material in order to select the pieces that most effectively tell Mariah’s life story. In addition, there still is a lot of shooting that remains to be done. We are planning interviews with doctors, friends, patients, and relatives – all those who can offer insight into Mariah’s process, struggle, and narrative.
The timeline for production from time of funding is as follows:
Locations & Persons Acquisition/Reservation 90 Days
Pre-Production 30 Days
Pre-Workshop Interviews/Shooting 10 Days
Workshop 03 Days
Post-Workshop Interviews/shooting 10 Days
Logging/Setup 03 days Editing 60 Days
Coloring 05 Days
Sound Mixing/Music 10 Days
Mastering 03 Days
Duplication 14 Days
Ready For Distribution.
TIMELINE FOR COMPLETION: 8 Months after funding
The Wounded Healer demographic will be male and female, white/black, middle and upper class, educated, and 25 to 65 years of age. It also is directed to those affected by terminal illnesses and suffering from emotional distress. The narrative of the documentary has a universal appeal.
Below is an excerpt from Shaun Rein’s article in Forbes magazine “How Oprah Does it:”
“She truly understands and relates to her core target market. Oprah genuinely sympathizes with her audience's struggles and aspirations. She does not pretend to have led a fairy-tale celebrity's life; rather she has revealed that she was sexually abused when growing up and has been candid about her battles with her weight. She uses real, shared pain to get closer to her audience. As she conquers her demons, her audience feels they can conquer theirs.”
The same is true of the relationship between Mariah and her patients, and will be true of Mariah and her viewers.
The film will be sent to all the major film festivals: Sundance, Toronto, Tribeca, Canne, etc. It is our desire for this film to make a global impact, and we will screen it anywhere we find a projector.
Various versions of the film will be edited and customized for release in theatres, television, DVD, foreign, and educational purposes. This will leave possibilities open for determining distribution avenues, which present themselves at the film festivals. The most effective distribution strategies will be defined at the time of the first cut.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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