Big Sky Documentary Film Festival - Montana premiere

For a few weeks now, I have been asking myself, “Why was screening the film here in Montana so much more emotional for me?”

Charged made its world premiere in front of 2,200+ people at the Historic Arlington Theatre in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, Ca. on the third of February, 2017.  It truly was a night that will live in my memory for as long as I live. A red carpet walk up, dozens of cameras snapping away, lights streaming through the night sky, with a line of ticket holders stretched down the block. I will never forget the calm and collective chill that was deeply anchored in my core that night. 

 CHARGED Film Team! (from left to right) Doug Ellin, Teri Weinberg, Dennis Aig, Jennifer Jane, Eduardo Garcia, Phillip Baribeau, Peter Hochfelder, Scott Ballew 

CHARGED Film Team! (from left to right) Doug Ellin, Teri Weinberg, Dennis Aig, Jennifer Jane, Eduardo Garcia, Phillip Baribeau, Peter Hochfelder, Scott Ballew 

Only a few weeks later in Missoula, Montana, Charged was set to make it’s Montana premiere. A smaller theatre, a hometown crowd. Heck, I even drove my own truck to the screening. My entire family showed up and dozens upon dozens of friends were in attendance.  Outside of the Wilma Theatre, the crowd stood bundled up in a light falling snow. Through rosy cheeks, these Montanans smiled supportively as I walked by.  Some raised their fists to the air victoriously affirming their hearty desire to shoulder the cold, to wait in line. It was as if the perceived burden of waiting was the unspoken price of admission and a token sign of solidarity saying, “We are happy to be here for you, for this.”

 Pre-screening interview with Fox News outside of the historic Wilma Theatre. 

Pre-screening interview with Fox News outside of the historic Wilma Theatre. 

Inside, we took our seats. The film rolled and organically, the atmosphere changed immediately. I could easily define the ensuing 86 minutes as a raucous, expressive town hall meeting. The film was the topic for discussion and everyone’s voice was heard. The hoots of laughter, hoorahs and moments of pin-drop silence added to what I already considered a darn good score. A double standing ovation carried the evening to closure.

With so much support and with the geographic familiarity — why was I so darn nervous? I’m not quite at a definitive answer, but if I had to put my finger on it, I’d say it would have to do with this state we Montanans call home. Montana becomes its own character in this film. As a non-fictional tale, I feel a responsibility to this place I love so deeply and to those that also call it home. 

When Life Gives You Lemons... Make Lemonade

by Jennifer Jane

When I look back at my life the world premiere of Charged will stand out as one of the very special moments.

We arrived at the historic and beautiful Arlington Theatre for the opening night of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2017. They had literally rolled out the red carpet and we were welcomed by a wall of photographers and reporters waiting to interview the team. It was rather surreal. Fortunately the festival allowed all of our family and friends to join us on the red carpet which made it even more of a memorable moment, and everyone got to take photos and feel the buzz as we watched the long line of 2200 cinema goers gradually move into the theatre.

A photo was taken of Eduardo and I on the red carpet that I will cherish forever. As we stood there posing all I could think about was a photo taken of us in 2011 when I arrived at his bedside in the hospital. He was surrounded by medical equipment as he flirted with the boundary of life and death and through the tears I forced a smile for the camera, and now here we were all dolled up on the red carpet at the opening night of our film. No forced smiles, very real, very full smiles. Those two photos mark quite the journey.

 Jennfer Jane & Eduardo Garcia, Charged

Jennfer Jane & Eduardo Garcia, Charged

Once in the theatre, I said to Eduardo ‘enjoy the movie’ and the show began. Firstly, Roger Durling the Festival Director spoke about why he chose Charged to be the opening film and shared a vulnerable story about how the film spoke to him. Next, our outstanding Director Phillip Baribeau and our awesome Producer Dennis Aig took to the stage to share their appreciation for Charged being chosen as the opening night film.

The lights dimmed.  Roll film…

I'd already watched the final edit of the film once before at home, and all I can say is that watching it in a theatre is an entirely different experience. You can feel the focus that everyone has on the story, at a startling moment 2200 people jumped in their seats, the whole theater cried and laughed together. That is something that I will remember forever.

Many of the people who supported us are featured in the film but it goes without saying there were many many more people who have helped us get to this place. From the people who responded to the emergency call when he was first injured, to the people that got him on the med flight, to everyone who looked after us in ICU. Furthermore to the wonderful people who researched, designed and made all of the medical equipment and techniques that kept him alive and to every single person who offered support throughout this ordeal.  

When you think of the core team who made the film, how could you ask for more. Knowing that most of the team were in the theater watching the premiere was very very special, everyone had been such an integral part of making this film. As the film ended the theatre erupted with enormous applause and the audience joined in a standing ovation as Eduardo walked out onto the stage. Eduardo shared his perspective and what the night meant to him and he asked all of the crew to stand up, I turned around and waved to a theatre full to the brim with people, close by was the wonderful Assistant Editor/Audio technician Will Springstead, Editor Tony Hale, DP George Potter and our lovely social media lady Louise Rainone. I cannot describe the amount of appreciation I had for the team as we stood among this sea of cheering people.  As far as life moments go, this was exceptional. What a moment.

As we left the theatre we got a sneak peek at what it is like to be celebrities, Eduardo and I were hot commodities and we were mobbed, in the best way ever. It was so wonderful to meet everyone, hear their thoughts of the film, and, most notably, share their stories. None of the interactions were surface level, they were all such beautiful moments of people sharing deep and personal stories with someone they had just met. It was intense in a wonderful way and to my absolute delight it was clear that the film had connected with the audience.  

We then headed to the after party, which was indeed a very cool party! I spoke to people endlessly and at about 1.30am it was time to dance and we all rocked out with the dj who just happened to be dressed as a bear with electrical energy bolts all over him, if you’ve seen the trailer or the film you will know why this is absurd - apparently it was not planned - although I am not sure I believe that. We raved with the electric bear, it was a perfect way to end the Charged World Premiere.

At 3am we got back to the hotel but none of us were tired, and as odd as it may sound the evening ended with my mum, brother, boyfriend and I sat laughing, sharing stories of the night, drinking a ton of water and stuffing our faces with organic bananas.

Overall the World Premiere of Charged was a showcase of perseverance, love and what’s possible when you have an outstanding team to implement a vision.  The injury was the lemon, Charged is the lemonade.

A Mother's Perspective

by Kathie Garcia 

I can remember vividly, the second day in the hospital (as soon as the tube was out of Eduardo’s throat and he could speak) he said to me, "I left the shell of the man I was on that forest floor and I took up the man I am and I am becoming, and I am an honest man. And I will beat this thing and I will live to motivate others.”

This was the turning point in Eduardo's life we are all still witnessing unfold. A moment of great challenge and of grace, to be given such an opportunity, He needed to muster all his will to meet it! I am still awed by the wonder of it all!

 What makes Charged so universally relevant is that each one of us has a unique life plan, our reason for being, a destiny we may embrace and realize, even perhaps go beyond. But so much would detour us, trip us up, blur our inner sense of who we are and how we can make a difference.  You see this in Charged, in Eduardo’s young life, you see him getting into trouble, getting kicked out of so many schools, but somehow returning over and over again. To what?  To his inner sense of truth. Eduardo always had a strong will, if at times misdirected! And so much love! But he also was at the top of his game before touching that dead bear and being shocked out of his senses by the electrical charge. He knew what it is to excel, to love –he excelled as a chef and through his travels had touched hearts around the world.

So you feel his heart beating, this is who you are, the past is prologue! Keep walking and don’t look back! Eduardo continues to teach me to listen to my own heartbeat, to be grateful for the breath of life, to make the most of the opportunity to live, to love, to make a difference in this world, daily!

 

 

 

 

Why I Picked Up the Camera and Started Filming

I was in England when I heard of Eduardo’s injury, I booked onto the first available flight out of London and rushed to Heathrow airport. Once at the airport I spoke to the surgeon who was about to perform Eduardo’s first surgery, he told me that it was an extremely risky surgery and that I should say to Eduardo ‘anything that I needed to say’ because it might be the last time I would speak with him. I leant against a pillar, with tears streaming down my face, among a scene of bustling travelers I somehow held my voice together for what could have been our very last conversation.

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Combating Sadness with Humor

 Beauty care.

Beauty care.

by Jennifer Jane

I feel a lot of the time we conform to the emotional state that we perceive we should be in, for example, when at a party we act happy, when in a hospital we act sad.  The truth is that sometimes when at a party, despite the fact that we are surrounded by friends, good food and dancing, we are sad, we just are, but our outward behavior is that we are happy! Similarly, if we are in a hospital we behave sullen, even if we are not… I think the key to combatting sadness is that if we feel happiness we should simply embrace it, regardless of our surroundings.

I am often told that I laugh a lot, initially I thought to laugh in a hospital was unacceptable and could be insulting.  Everyone is struggling so much, should I hold back the laughter?  I now know that it is, indeed, ok to laugh - laughing makes you feel better and if you are incredibly sad hearing someone else laugh is the most wonderful sound, as it makes you remember that there are good things around you.

When we were living in the hospital I actively sought out humor because I felt that even if you are dealing with hell your favorite joke is still funny and embracing that feeling momentarily relieves your stress and I think that goes a long way.  

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying to gloss over hard times with humor, I am saying embrace the truly hard times, feel them and process.  But, when there are happy times, embrace them and enjoy them - don't let the tough times affect every element of your life.

 After hand amputation.

After hand amputation.

If you notice something funny don’t be afraid to laugh, dance or smile… it brings you happiness and I bet that if anyone is watching you, seeing your happiness will help them too, as it will be a nice reminder that there are still good things in the world.

Laughter is positively contagious, and as they say, 'laughter is the best medicine', I wholeheartedly agree with this!

Looking Back In Time, Reflections of An Injured Man

After a week of wishing, working, treatments and hoping it is clear my left hand does not look great. I have had a fever for days now because of the infection in my wrist and hand. The stench in the room is now noticeable and smells like the early stages of death. Horrible. A meeting of all the top surgeons on my case including Jay Agarwal from the Plastic surgery clinic was held in my room.

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Who Cares for the Caregiver?

“In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. Place the mask firmly over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band behind your head, and breathe normally.  If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask first, and then assist the other person.”

We’ve all heard it, the safety speech we half listen to on the plane before take-off.  At its core is a valuable life lesson, take care of yourself first, then, and only then, can you effectively can help others.  

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Why We Need To Share This Story Of Survival

If you are reading this you have probably already watched the trailer. There's only so much you can put into a trailer but the story is so much deeper and more complex.  It is a story of love, friendship, life and a struggle that will never truly go away. Much of the footage is extraordinarily tough to watch, it will make you cry, it will make you wonder… how did he survive? What kind of hunger for life does a person have to have to make it through such intense injuries? You will feel Eduardo’s profound sense of loss and, maybe, for your own. 

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Sharing My Story of Survival

I was described as “a bag of bones with a heart beat” by the team on call at the Burn Trauma Intensive Care Unit at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. It was late in the afternoon on October 9, 2011 and I had just been airlifted from Livingston Montana with severe electrical injuries. I was dying; every moment was precious as life slipped out of me. This was what Dr. William Morris the surgeon on call had on his hands. 

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