When Jay (Producer)—also fellow conservatory alum—approached me with the idea for this script, he leaned in on the obvious motivation to honor his friends and loved ones who met the visceral and unsettling riddle that the medical labyrinth can be—their certain sickness, their less certain prognosis, a their heck of a bill to pay. So he and the writer (Ken Gauthier) put pen to paper together to ‘write about what you know.’
People in the US eventually become suspended in a medical web of interests that have little or nothing to do with the health of a loved one or with the financial well-being and dignity of those who survive them. Often people have to sacrifice the latter for the former, and the medical misadventure leaves loved ones with suspicions of a transactional shallowness in the industry—one whose bitterness overshadows their new normal in the wake of an illness.
But this story alone is far too harsh for what we generally expect an audience to endure—much less enjoy—so this story deals with it playfully.
As with the scripts of one my most enjoyed playwrights, Martin McDonough, it’s possible and cathartic to find humor in the most grave of subjects. The script follows this attempt to laugh-to-avoid-crying.
The most exciting aspect was the way Ken approached this tone in the writing (which I shouldn’t give the details of away before you watch it!) I knew Jay and David (J. Curtis - Little Women, Euphoria, Dexter) would pour all their best energies into this as an acting duo—who were buds in real life—so it was more than enough to be excited about devoting a lot of energy to bringing dignity & meaning to those who struggle with inadequate or confusing healthcare needs with such a tone in mind. And—more than I would have expected at that time—it brought a melancholic and bittersweet gratitude to my own struggle with medical challenges.
In the early morning last day of shooting this film, my mother also passed away peacefully in her sleep, and the final scenes of the film were shot without anyone on-set being awares. And while this meta-theatrical event would play no role in the story itself for audience members, this film-making experience spoke to me saying that if humor is worth pursuing as a way to cope with our suffering, then at the doorstep of death it can also be the source of great gratitude and meaning—and for how to ‘swallow the pill’ life throws your way. So may we forgot our sorrows and keep our humors. To that end, here’s a hearty toast (of Whiskey) and a whole-hearted thank you for your going on this medical misadventure with us.
Rob Douthat is a Director-DP in New York and Los Angeles. After getting his start in crew jobs for studio pictures in New Orleans, LA, he attended a 2-year acting Conservatory in New York. Since graduating, Rob has been in front of, and behind the camera in over 300 films, commercials, documentaries and music videos. He has worked on over a dozen award-winning micro-budget films and has had his astrophotography photos featured by the L.A. Astronomical Society at Griffith Observatory. His hobbies include astrophotography, camping, farming, nature, environmentalism, dogs, his best friends and Led Zeppelin. Rob lives in New York.