This would be that "career" thing I've heard so much about...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Dear Zachary: A Letter To A Son About His Father

Shortly after I moved to LA I got a job working as a waitress. I met a young USC grad (this was before JB and I applied for USC ourselves) who is one of the most talented filmmakers I've met out here. In addition to writing and directing some wonderful short films and a fantastic narrative feature, he's also a gifted documentary filmmaker. About five years ago he started a personal documentary project that was intended for an audience of friends and family members. But shortly after he started the project, a series of events took place that have changed the scope of this project in a way no one could have anticipated.

I know - especially at this time of year - we are bombarded with worthy causes in need of donations. If you have a little extra money for charitable donations, I'd like to offer this project up for your consideration.

I'll let Kurt explain the project:

As many of you well know, for the past four and a half years I have been working on a documentary film about the life and murder of my lifelong friend Dr. Andrew Bagby (1973-2001). Andrew was killed 5 years ago by his ex-girlfriend, who fled the U.S. for the Canadian province of Newfoundland and went on to give birth to his son after Andrew's death. I began making this movie for that little boy, Zachary, as a way for him to get to know his father when he came of age. Because Canada let Andrew's killer walk free on bail while awaiting extradition, she had the opportunity to commit another murder, killing herself and baby Zachary on August 18, 2003. After a lot of soul searching and conversations with Andrew's parents, we ultimately decided that I would transform my film for Zachary into the story of what happened and release it to the general public. It is titled as it was begun, "DEAR ZACHARY: A LETTER TO A SON ABOUT HIS FATHER." The film will become a powerful tool in the Bagby's fight to get the bail laws in Canada changed, so that a tragedy like this will never happen again. Andrew's father David has written an excellent book about this nightmare which is being published in the spring; my goal is to have my film done by May to coincide with its publication, and to make the deadline for the 2007 Toronto Film Festival. We aim to hit the media with a strong one-two punch next year, book and movie working in concert.

In order to meet this goal, we need to raise some money. This film is not for profit, it is fiscally sponsored by the International Documentary Association, a 501-C(3) organization, and all donations to it are tax deductible. All proceeds from the film will go to the Dr. Andrew Bagby Scholarship at Latrobe Area Hospital in Latrobe, PA and the Dr. Andrew Bagby and son Zachary Bursary at Memorial University, Newfoundland. Every contribution helps, no matter how small.

I've cut a 10 minute trailer to give everyone a sense of what the finished feature film will be like. It is now on line at:

If you are moved by what you see and would like to contribute to the cause, that would be wonderful. Tax deductible donations can be made on line, or checks may be mailed to the International Documentary Association, or donations can also be made to me directly (thereby avoiding the IDA's 5% sponsorship fee). All the information is on the site.

I believe we actually have a shot at making change. On October 4th, the government of Newfoundland released a review and investigation officially finding that Zachary's death was preventable if the departments of Child, Youth and Family Services and Child Protection had done their jobs right and removed Zachary from his dangerous mother's custody; the head of the department resigned, and politicians were squirming and tripping over themselves to endorse the review's recommendations and begin their implementation. The Provincial Minister of Justice took the review's findings to the federal government to begin discussing the topic of bail reform. This investigation and review would not have happened if Andrew's parents hadn't stood up and screamed for change. That was Step One, and it has been successful -- but the issue of bail still has not been addressed. That is Step Two in this endeavor; David Bagby's book and my movie are going to be the juggernaut that keeps this issue in the public eye until it is seen to completion.

Thank you so much for your time and help. Check out the trailer. I hope that you will join me on what has been the most rewarding journey of my life. I sincerely believe we have a shot at making the world a safer, better place.

All the best,


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Roller Coaster Extremes

It's been a crazy CRAZY week. I had two amazing meetings at the beginning of the week, and have five comics and a novel to read and come back with possible feature takes on.

Thursday I got the news that my job has come to an end. It was great while it lasted! Now I am going to research signing up for unemployment.

Thursday night I went to a new members discussion at the WGA that was alternately exhilarating and depressing.

Friday went to my first WGA screening (saw "Stranger Than Fiction" with my little sister and heard the writer speak - we both highly recommend this film!)

Saturday I finished my (first manager-worthy draft of my) new outline (thanks to DA, LE, AQ and the incredibly gifted and excruciatingly patient JB for reading and offering thoughts - every one of you made it better).

I've been doing a lot of house-cleaning and book-keeping today, I think I'm recovering from the extremely intense nature of the outlining process, and possibly freaking out about money.

Anyhow, compared to last week at this time - things feel very very different all of a sudden. In both good and bad ways.