FUNDED! Kickstarter project “Be Here Now” - The Andy Whitfield Story heads into post production. Film shows an intimate portrait of the star’s battle against cancer
It’s a good day. 5,265 backers raised $302,810 on Kickstarter, far exceeding the originally pledged $200k.
“Be Here Now” documents the last 18 months of Spartacus star Andy Whitfield in an honest, intimate portrait as he undergoes cancer treatment. — At the prime of his burgeoning success, the engineer turned actor was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins lymphoma, just after finishing season 1 of the hit show. A first round of instant treatment seemed to prove successful and the cancer was gone - but Andy relapsed, just as shooting for “Blood & Sand” was about to kick off for season 2.
Early relapse after chemotherapy often indicates resistant cancer cells that are likely to grow. When even the best medical treatment could only guarantee a 25% chance of survival, the actor and his wife Vashti decided to take healing into their own hands and tried every method available, including aggressive chemo- and radiotherapy as well as Eastern healing options.
In a preview clip from the film, Whitfield himself explains the meaning of ‘Be Here Now’ - which he and his wife eternalized on their arms with matching tattoos. “In my heart, I am convinced that this is all meant to be,” he says. “‘Be here now’ is all about being present and not fearing what you don’t know.”
During his first round of treatment, Whitfield experienced how lonely and scared the uncertainty leaves patient and family. Deciding on treatment options with limited medical understanding while running out of time can be terrifyingly overwhelming. Andy and Vashti invited documentary film maker Lilibet Foster to follow the actor’s treatment programme. “When we decided to do this, we felt that if we’re going to go through something like this, let’s see what we can learn and share,” says Vashti Whitfield. “Otherwise, it’s just another wasted journey.”
But as Lilibet Foster tells me in below interview from June, we should not expect a sad film. “This is a universal love story. Andy and his wife were this incredible force.” Foster’s previous award-winning films include Soul In the Hole and Academy Award Nominated Speaking in Strings.
After an outpouring of sadness from fans on the internet following the actors death in September 2011, the film team decided to let them participate in finishing the film and took to Kickstarter for funding of post production. The international response from fans and the press has been overwhelming and the additional funding beyond $200k will now go into international distribution and outreach programs with cancer organizations like Stand Up for Cancer to reach as many people as possible.
It is great to see Kickstarter’s value in building such strong and supportive communities that will carry the projects well beyond the fundraising stage.