QUEST TO FUND

BREAST CANCER FILM

Forces Screenplay Writer to

FACE THE SUN
By Ingrid Ricks

Maybe it all came too easy the first time around. Within months of completing FACE THE SUN, a screenplay about a young family navigating the rocky world of breast cancer, Mike Moroz – a high school film teacher from Vancouver Island – had managed to secure $2.5 million in private funding to get the movie made. He had generated significant awareness through a newly launched FACE THE SUN web site, had scored a top director and cast, and was set to begin filming in April of 2007. Then six weeks prior to launch, the primary investor suffered a financial loss from another project he had funded and announced he was pulling out. “Everything started to nose dive,” says Mike, the disappointment still fresh in his mind. “A lot of investors had said, `If he’s in, we’re in’ and as soon as he pulled out, they did, too. Just like that, we had to shut everything down.” The loss of the film was a crushing blow for Mike, who― along with watching his dream evaporate ― felt he had let down thousands of people who had lived the cancer journey he had written about in FACE THE SUN and had thrown their support behind the movie. Shortly after, his marriage ended and the emotional devastation of it all knocked him to the ground. It wasn’t until the summer of 2009, when Mike headed to Central Washington University to start a Master’s Degree in Theatre Production, that his psyche began to heal and the fog started to lift. He soon found himself talking about the screenplay with fellow classmates and newfound friends, who all urged him to pick up the pieces and keep pushing forward. Since then it’s been a lesson in resilience for Mike; about standing back up, brushing yourself off and going after what you believe in – no matter how tough the going gets or how insurmountable the challenges seem. It’s a lesson he’s learned in spades from the families who have found themselves forced to embark on the terrifying, uncertain journey of cancer. “It gets discouraging at times,” admits Mike, who has encountered countless rejections in his renewed quest to get the film made. “But it’s so humbling to hear from these families who have lived it every day for the entire journey. What they have endured and experienced is so compelling that I can’t quit. Not

now. Not when they tell me how much it means to them that this story be told. They are the ones who keep me going.” When Mike first set out to write FACE THE SUN in the summer of 2006, he wasn’t thinking about a feature film that could provide a voice to millions of individuals and families who have faced down a cancer diagnosis. Nor was he thinking about the opportunity to raise money and awareness for the frontline cancer organizations working around the clock to help families cope financially and emotionally with the devastating illness. He wrote it to pay tribute to Diane, a close family friend who had just lost her battle to breast cancer at the age of thirty-four. Five years earlier, Diane had detected what she thought were symptoms of the disease and had immediately headed to her family doctor to get checked out – only to be told that she was too young to concern herself with breast cancer. It wasn’t until a couple years later, when she was pregnant with her second child, that her breast cancer was finally diagnosed. But by then, it had already spread throughout her body and despite all the conventional and alternative treatments that Diane and her family desperately sought out, it was too late. As he watched from the sidelines, Mike was struck by the enormity of Diane’s loss, by how much her entire circle of family and friends was impacted by the disease, and by the huge financial toll that accompanied the emotional devastation. But he was also taken back by the strength that emerged in Diane and her husband during her cancer battle, and was amazed by their newfound focus on embracing life and experiencing each moment to the fullest. He knew he had to write something to celebrate Diane’s life, and to try to make sense of it all for her family. “I was teaching filmmaking and had been an actor for a long time but had never sat down to put pen to paper on a project of my own,” says Mike. “I wrote every day and finished it in six weeks. It’s hard to describe. I felt like Diane was there with me – almost like she was channeling it. It was an astonishing feeling to complete some of these scenes and say, `I’m done. I don’t have to write that again.’ At no point did I worry about rewrites. It just came.” Mike finished the screenplay in June of 2006. The power of what he had written surprised him, and recognizing that it was a story that might resonate with people who had experienced cancer, he decided to show the screenplay to a couple of friends in the Vancouver film industry. They, in turn, put him in touch with investors who agreed it was a film worth funding. A top director and cast signed on to the project soon after.

Had the funding not been lost the first time around, the movie would have been out for a couple of years now – raising awareness and funding to support organizations helping families battle all forms of cancer. But maybe the conviction that drives Mike now wouldn’t have been there, a conviction necessary to ensure that the messages in FACE THE SUN are heard around the globe. With his girlfriend, Carla, working tirelessly by his side and supporters who have stepped in along the way to volunteer their time, Mike now spends every free moment he has spreading the word about FACE THE SUN to anyone willing to listen. While he is still focused on pursuing large investors, he recently turned to social media and other grassroots efforts for help – realizing that maybe the answer lies in building support from the ground up. “What we’ve come to understand is that this is a marathon, not a sprint,” says Mike. “At this point, we will need about $3 million to get the movie made and our goal is to get large investors involved with that. But we need to raise development money to help us create the materials and messaging necessary to go after these investors so we launched our Indie Go Go Campaign, an online fundraising effort that enables people to contribute a few dollars at a time to help us achieve that.” The campaign includes a unique and lasting opportunity to commemorate loved ones lost to cancer. By participating in the ‘In Memoriam’ program through the FACE THE SUN web site, or by becoming an ‘Angel Supporter’ through the Indie Go Go campaign, people can have their loved ones’ name join a select few included in the end credits of the film. As far as film investors go, Mike isn’t just looking for people willing to put up the money. He’s looking for those who are willing to give a portion of their profits to cancer organizations of their choice. The model is simple: the first money that comes in from the movie will used to repay the complete investment costs for the movie. After that, the proceeds will be split 50-50 between Mike’s production company and the investors. All of the money Mike receives will be donated directly to frontline cancer organizations. Out of the fifty percent that goes to the investors, thirty-five percent will be delivered in cash, with the remaining fifteen percent delivered in the form of a tax-deductable donation to the cancer charity of their choice. Mike might still be in the beginning stages of the FACE THE SUN marathon, but he’s proving that he knows how to go the distance – a sentiment reflected in the movie itself, which celebrates the remarkable strength of families forced into the cancer journey.

FACE THE SUN, which was just shortlisted for the prestigious 2010 Gotham Screen Screenplay Contest, carries several powerful messages for viewers. First, it underscores how important it is for people to know and trust their own bodies and to be their own health advocate so they can ensure they receive the medical advice and care they deserve. Second, it serves as a reminder that cancer is not someone else’s illness. Mike, who points out that one in four families will experience cancer, hopes the movie will act as a catalyst that brings people together and moves them to do what they can to raise awareness and funding for the frontline cancer organizations that help families through this terrifying journey. But more than anything, Mike hopes that FACE THE SUN will cause people to rethink their priority list. “We only get to do this life once, and every day needs to be a celebration for what it is,” says Mike. “We spend so much time saying, `I’ll be happy when’ and we forget about how great today is. That’s one thing that really struck me as I watched Diane – how much she celebrated every day. She knew she had a finite number of days and she treasured every one of them. It’s the same thing I experience with the cancer survivors I meet – they don’t look at life the same way. It’s a lesson we all need.” ###

To view Mike Moroz talking about FACE THE SUN, click on this YouTube link.

To learn more about FACE THE SUN, please visit the movie web site: www.facethesunmovie.com To help raise development funding, please visit the FACE THE SUN Indie Go Go Campaign. An excerpt from FACE THE SUN, as well as other work by Mike Moroz , can be found on Scribd at http://www.scribd.com/mike_moroz Dream Blog Author Ingrid Ricks is currently pursuing her dream to publish Hippie Boy, her recently completed coming-of-age memoir. Read excerpts on Scribd, or at www.hippieboybook.com. And if you are a publisher interested in talking to Ingrid or her agent, please contact her at: ingridricks@comcast.net To read other Dream blog profiles, please visit: www.dreamitseekit.com

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