Thursday, April 7, 2011

Film: The Last Days of Extraordinary Lives

Film Title: The Last Days of Extraordinary Lives

Award Designation: Love Unlimited Film Festival & Art Exhibition Award Winner.

Director: Randy Bacon

Country: USA

Category: FEATURE DOCUMENTARY


Short Synopsis: If end-of-life looks you in the face, what thoughts, feelings, words and wisdom would you tell about living life...to the fullest. In this inspiring documentary filmed by nationally recognized photographer, Randy Bacon, ordinary people (just like you and me) face their last days and tell extraordinary stories about life and living. Thirteen life stories, ages 2 to 94, including an aids victim, a mother of two with cancer, and an Amish family share touching stories filled with love, faith, hope, joy, wisdom, and laughter...repeat, laughter! Ironically, even though their days are limited, they show us how to live life to the fullest and to teach us many life lessons that will not be forgotten. It is a movie about living!


Detailed Synopsis: Before husband and wife film making team, Randy and Shannon Bacon, began shooting their feature length documentary film, The Last Days of Extraordinary Lives they imagined Hospice as a word they didn't really want to hear. Not that they didn't like or appreciate what they thought Hospice stood for -- they simply were not educated. As many erroneously do, they mainly associated Hospice with end of life doom and gloom. Now, after completing over nine months of filming and building relationships with Hospice patients, workers, nurses, chaplains and family members, Hospice is one of their favorite seven letter words. It is a symbol of great peace, celebration, living and more -- not a metaphor for death. Now they know Hospice is love, joy, support and tenderness. Hospice is a service provided by a group of some of the most loving people they have ever met. Hospice works hard to help loved ones and those who are living their last days by offering physical, emotional and spiritual support. The film's Executive Producer, Good Shepherd Hospice Director, Billie Klingaman states, 'Hospice is not about giving up hope. Instead, we want to refocus hope by bringing peace and quality to whatever time remains. There is a hope for a different kind of healing. 'The documentary project began small, as a simple still portrait exhibit. As the idea snowballed, the Bacons knew a full-length feature film was the only way to give these unforgettable peoples' stories life. Film crew in tow, they traveled in and around Missouri's Ozarks for five months and filmed the lives of over 17 people, ranging from a 2-year-old with cancer, to a 40-year-old battling AIDS. In addition, stories encompassed a young mother fighting brain cancer, a husband who recently lost his wife of over 50 years, and a variety of other adults up to age 94. They longed to create a film of touching, inspiring stories that could awaken the community to this group of champions called Hospice, as well as encourage them to live life to the fullest. They desired to create something so powerful that it would urge the viewer to look at life through different eyes, ones not focused on climbing the corporate ladder or simply completing a list of to-do's. As film Director and Cinematographer, Randy notes, 'Did our subjects talk about love? Yes. Did they talk about family and friends? Yes. Did they talk about sitting at the table and playing Scrabble? Yes. Did they talk about, wow, I just didn't make enough money? No, they didn't.' This isn't just another film about Hospice. On the contrary, via intimate, personal stories about life (not death), The Last Days of Extraordinary Lives calls for the viewer to rise up and explore why we are here and what are we doing with our time. What are our priorities in life? Through their journey, the Bacons learned Hospice is an answer to prayer, a life saver, a true beacon of light to everyone they interviewed. George Wilkinson, a subject in the film, utilized St. John's HospiceCare. He says, 'It's a delightful phenomenon, Hospice. I have been so blessed by my Hospice worker. At the end of my life where I'm at, this Hospice care has improved our lives and helped my wife tremendously which is a huge weight off of us.' The Bacons were initially concerned with how they would emotionally cope with filming people potentially facing the end of their life or a loved one's. After the shooting wrapped in June, they realized the experience of working with Hospice and Hospice patients is one of the top experiences of their lives. It was an honor beyond words for an absolute stranger to invite the filming crew into their homes at such a vulnerable, personal time. It dawned on the crew that we do not have to be in our last stages of life to celebrate, laugh, have fun and make changes needed to spend more time with loved ones...it's never too late. According to Hospice Compassus Patient Care Supervisor and Admissions Coordinator, Jan Roselmen, 'We cannot add more days to someone's life, but we can add more life to their days.'



More Information:
Director Statement
We all have to face the reality that our life, at some point in time, will end. No one is exempt from this truth; however, with each day of life we are given countless opportunities to choose how our life stories will be played out. This film will hopefully affect how the game of life is played daily.

Through the 9 months of filming thirteen stories of people facing the last days of their lives, I can surprising say I am the most at peace about death that I ever have been through my 49 years of life. And, I fully realize that it doesn't take someone to be ill or in their last days to make important changes in their lives and to truly live...go on that vacation, tell someone you are sorry, get rid of that bitter seed, tell your loved ones how much you love them, laugh whenever you can and smile!

After viewers watch this film, I want them to grasp that the plot is not about death. On the contray, it is a film about life. I seriously want people to smile and even laugh. It is not a film about depressing the viewer, but about lifting the viewer and placing an unexpected sense of joy, peace and hope within them.

Resume:
Randy Bacon: Cinematographer/DP, Director, Print Return, Print Shipper, Production Manager, Submission Contact

Randy often is asked how he got into still and motion photography. The answer covers a long road. From a very early age it was evident, Randy was one of those kids that had the creative side of the brain working full force. He was always painting, drawing, sketching, doodling and even doing the music thing. At the age of 15,Randy got his first still camera, a Pentax 35mm, and from that point his pursuit of art became solely focused on the medium of photography...as an art form.

As a teen, Randy did not know how it would manifest itself as a career or other, but he knew his passion for art, creating, and speaking through still and motion images were implanted by God within his core. After graduating from high school, a degree in fine arts began at Missouri State University, but Randy switched mid-stream and completed degrees in psychology and management. Bacon states, "At the time, I was so disappointed in myself that I did not get my degree in art and photography, but now looking back I know it was a God thing. Seeing the way I now combine my psychology, artistic abilities and love of God has truly defined my artistic style. It has helped me create a powerful, unique style of photography and cinema."

Professionally, Randy has been shooting since 1985 and is in very high demand across the nation as a portrait, editorial and commercial shooter, both still and motion. And now his career is rapidly growing in the direction of feature and short films. In addition, he is grown into a highly sought after public speaker at universities, schools, churches, businesses and more.

In addition to the photography and cinema work, Randy and his wife, Shannon, own and manage one of the Missouri's premiere art destinations, the Monarch Art Factory. The Monarch is a 16,000 square foot art center that is home to a multitude of creative endeavors including Bacon's 8,000 square foot studio and art galleries.

Randy reflects, "Looking back at that 15 year old that fell in love with photography and where I'm at now, I can say...I am more excited about my still and motion photography work than I ever have been. I am blown away by the passion for this art form that God continues to grow within me. I know the best is yet to come."



This website, www.LoveUnlimitedAwardWinners.org, is dedicated to highlighting and announcing the film, art and script award winners of the most recent Love Unlimited Film Festival & Art Exhibition, an annual international event promoting film, arts and scripts. To visit the official website of the Love Unlimited Film Festival and Art Exhibition please visit here: www.LoveAndDiversity.org

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