Monday, December 5, 2011

Post Production!

I know I know I know...where the heck have I been? Am I still working on the documentary? Is it finished? Will it ever be finished? What are my plans with the film? Well It is about time I give everyone an update so here goes.

In January of 2011 I found an editor who wanted to do the film but unfortunately by February that fell through, he told me that he simply had to take the better paying jobs that were coming his way. So in March I was connected with another editor who was deeply passionate about the film, and willing to work for the discounted rate I had warned him and my previous editor about. But sadly after two months of viewing the footage, this second editor needed to tend to personal issues and could no longer be a part of the film. So this left me with two failed editors, 5 months of wasted time, and still absolutely no progress had been made with post.

This was a rather dark time for the film and it was clear to me that I needed a break, I was burnt out. I work full-time in addition to the film, as well as have my own personal training business in Malibu, so I focused on my work, rock-climbing and on having fun!

As fall rolled around I started to interview editors once again, but I was unable to find anyone who could work for the price I could afford. In a desperate attempt to get in contact with some talented editors, I wrote my UCLA documentary filmmaking instructor Curtis Freilich and asked him if he knew any editors who might be interested in the job. He promptly responded that he was interested in editing the film. Below is our initial correspondence:

Dear Curtis,

I am writing to you in hopes that you might be able to recommend an editor for my documentary. If you recall, I started my documentary about modern oncology and my father's career, almost 3 years ago. I have completed production and I have been searching for an editor for a couple of months now. I have 80 hours of raw footage, logged manually, but not in final cut. I am desperate to find a good editor, not someone who toys around with final cut in their free time, but my budget is very limited so I am hoping they would take a discounted rate since the film is sponsored by a non-profit, they could get a tax write-off or I could give them a percentage of the profits if the film goes on to make money. I am sending you the links to my website and blog to get a better idea of what this film is about. If you have any ideas for me I would really appreciate it. Thank you for your time.


Hey Elizabeth,

I certainly remember you and your father's story. I think it's a strong and important subject. I might consider helping since I'm in between
work right now - hoping to start a full time teaching position at Santa Monica College this winter. I need to know a little more about
the project - what format it's in now, what is your time frame and where do you want to edit? Will you have an assistant editor?
I do have a full Final Cut or Avid set up and can cut here which I'd prefer. Also do you have any recent trailers or sizzle reels?
Good to hear from you and glad you're still working on the project.


These emails were sent at the end of August of this year and since then Curtis and myself have been pluggin' away, trying to get a rough cut of the film by the end of January. I am so thankful to have Curtis as a teammate and colleague, he is truly passionate about the subject, and wants to see this film succeed, he truly believes this film has the power to make a difference. I asked Curtis to write a short little biography for the blog:

A word from Curtis Freilich:
I’ve been an editor working in the Motion Picture & Television Industry for
more than 25 years . I’ve worked on many well known television shows like
“Moonlighting” and “The Wonder Years” as well as films like “Days of Heaven”
and “The Jacksons; An American Dream”. I’ve also worked on several animated
features and in 2007 made the documentary “Ghana @50”.
In 2004 I began teaching documentary video courses at UCLA Extension and
post production courses at Colombia College Hollywood.
It was in 2010 that I first met Elizabeth Simonton who was a student in my documentary
course at UCLA. I was moved and inspired when I first saw the documentary about her father. Some time later she asked me if I could recommend someone to help in the editing of the project. I said yes, me. This is a subject that resonates deeply with me and that I feel is important to the community of cancer patients world wide and to anyone who has an interest in navigating the perilous path of healthcare. It is a subject that is eminent and can make a difference.

So please feel free to call, write, and ask questions. It is my goal to update the blog as often as possible, but I don't have a lot of free time these days. Thank you for your interest in this film, and for your support for the past 3 years! We are almost THERE!!!!!!

For more information on how to support this film please visit:

Thursday, June 2, 2011


All truths are initially either ridiculed or violently opposed.

Schopenhauer (philosopher)

Friday, February 18, 2011

This is still news???

Study after study have been done year after year and we still consider this news? Let's learn from our studies, because what are we doing them for if not to learn and adapt??

Negative experiences can stop painkillers working

Pain killersNegative thoughts rendered painkillers ineffective

A patient's belief that a drug will not work can become a self fulfilling prophecy, according to researchers.

They showed the benefits of painkillers could be boosted or completely wiped out by manipulating expectations.

The study, published in Science Translational Medicine, also identifies the regions of the brain which are affected.

Experts said this could have important consequences for patient care and for testing new drugs.

Heat was applied to the legs of 22 patients, who were asked to report the level of pain on a scale of one to 100. They were also attached to an intravenous drip so drugs could be administered secretly.

The initial average pain rating was 66. Patients were then given a potent painkiller, remifentanil, without their knowledge and the pain score went down to 55.

They were then told they were being given a painkiller and the score went down to 39.

Then, without changing the dose, the patients were then told the painkiller had been withdrawn and to expect pain, and the score went up to 64.

So even though the patients were being given remifentanil, they were reporting the same level of pain as when they were getting no drugs at all.

Professor Irene Tracey, from Oxford University, told the BBC: "It's phenomenal, it's really cool. It's one of the best analgesics we have and the brain's influence can either vastly increase its effect, or completely remove it."

The study was conducted on healthy people who were subjected to pain for a short period of time. She said people with chronic conditions who had unsuccessfully tried many drugs for many years would have built up a much greater negative experience, which could impact on their future healthcare.

Professor Tracey said: "Doctors need more time for consultation and to investigate the cognitive side of illness, the focus is on physiology not the mind, which can be a real roadblock to treatment."

Brain scans during the experiment also showed which regions of the brain were affected.

The expectation of positive treatment was associated with activity in the cingulo-frontal and subcortical brain areas while the negative expectation led to increased activity in the hippocampus and the medial frontal cortex.

Researchers also say the study raises concerns about clinical trials used to determine the effectiveness of drugs.

George Lewith, professor of health research at the University of Southampton, said: "It's another piece of evidence that we get what we expect in life.

"It completely blows cold randomised clinical trials, which don't take into account expectation."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Money Talks

The Rutten Family
John and Elizabeth Grether
Barbara Andersen

The Cvitan Family
Cleveland and Joyce Bell
Jemma Eriksen
Kenyon Whetsell
Gail Pritchett
Chris Young
Veronica Barton

Helen Hening
Peggy Platner
Nick Van Beurden
Alee Negrete
Jenny Wilson
Sarah Finke
Natalie Hess
Brandon Zamel
Julie Carmen
Jamie Sharbak

Thank you.

A big THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to the All I want for Christmas Fundraising Campaign this past month. We were able to raise $2,600, enough to get us through the beginning stages of Post Production! January had flown by, and I am almost finished logging all of the footage for my editors. We will begin editing the first week of February.

Monday, December 13, 2010

What They want for Christmas!!

Deborah Ogg and Leslie Bachant emailed me their Christmas wish this year and showed their support for the "All I want for Christmas" Fundraising Campaign.

"It is my Christmas wish for people to understand how powerful the mind can be, particulary when dealing with a life threatening illness. Carl Simonton , an adventurer in the area of psychoneuroimmunology, was a critical, imploring voice acting as a guide to many, including me, exploring the terrain and possibility in this area. It is imperative for the film about Carl's work to be finished because his brilliance would finally be honored. But even more important, there are millions of people who might be exposed to the possibility of the powerful intervention of the mind on the body, of the possibility of control rather than helplessness, of living well again.
Thank you, Elizabeth, for your dedication, love, and hard work. Where can we send the checks!!"

- Deborah Ogg

"Dr. Simonton's work is a rare, comprehensive approach (mind, body & spirit) to dealing with the challenges, and gifts, of a cancer diagnosis. This work taught me how to prioritize what's most important in my life; provided the tools and skills needed to live in peace and joy; and help me create dreams for a happy future. It's made a tremendous difference in the quality of my life, and that of my husband's, who was diagnosed with throat cancer as I was on my 2nd round of chemo. We are happier, healthier and enjoy a calm and peaceful life as a result of this work. My Christmas wish is that this vitally important documentary get finished so that others can experience the powerful benefits of this work and have hope for a fully present life in joy, despite cancer!"

Leslie Bachant
Metastatic Breast Cancer patient

Monday, November 15, 2010

Production is Complete!

Dear Friends,
I apologize for the lull in my blog activity, my last post was in June and it has been an action packed past 5 months, so let me update you. In June I began a documentary filmmaking class at UCLA that ran for 12 weeks, it was a wonderful experience and I met many talented documentarians. In July I got the much anticipated interview with David Spiegel up at Stanford. In August I flew to Montana for my third and final interview with Paul, one of the cancer patients I have been following since 2008. At the end of August I hopped on a plane to see Barbara Andersen at Ohio State to discuss her research with breast cancer patients. In September I spoke with Stephanie Matthews-Simonton at her home in Little Rock, Arkansas to capture the story of how the Simonton Cancer Center got started. At the end of September I flew up to San Francisco to interview Marty Rossman, as well as film my third and final interview with Leslie, another one of the patients I have been following for the past two and a half years. And somehow it is already November. With production seemingly finished I have been hard at work on post production, trying to organize, log and time-code all of the footage (we have about 80 hours). And unfortunately post-production is the most expensive part of this documentary so I am going to be starting a fundraising campaign in the next few weeks, and fight to the finish line!!
Thank you all for your interest and most of all for your support. I will be posting information on the fundraiser in the next few days so please keep checking in!

As I mentioned earlier we have about 80 hours of footage to create a 90 minute movie. That means the majority of this footage might never be seen, so I decided to broadcast little clips from interviews over the past 2 years. I am going to try and do this every week if possible. I am starting it off with Ed Gilbert's interview shot this past May in Texas. Enjoy.