Why I Picked Up the Camera and Started Filming

by Jennifer Jane

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.

I got on my flight, just as Eduardo was going into surgery with a plan to call the ground for updates from the inflight phone. This was before wifi and of course, the inflight phone was broken, I checked with the stewardess but there was simply no way for me to contact the ground. This set up for a long 8 hour flight from London to Chicago, wondering if he had survived the surgery.

 Jen with her camera in ICU

Jen with her camera in ICU

I didn’t watch any inflight movies and just hoped that the medical team would pull him through… my mind was just reeling with memories and everything we were working on. I had been filming him a lot for a new outdoor cooking show and I simply thought, if they manage to pull Eduardo through we should film - this could be an epic documentary.

When I landed in the USA, I learned that he was alive and I called by best friend Bex in England to tell her the good news. We had the usual supportive friend conversation, serious, sad, intense, but at the end of it I told her that I was going to film his hospital stay… with an idea to create a documentary called ‘Charged by a Bear’. She laughed and simply said ’now I know I don’t have to worry about you, you are still you’. My best friend is one of the most wonderful women I know, so with her approval for my filming idea, I felt more confident in it and thus the documentary began.

If you know the story of how Eduardo was injured, you will know why ‘Charged by a Bear’ is a fun play on words. I mean when we are out in the wilderness we always carry bear spray and are wary of being ‘Charged by a Bear’ but charged by electricity through a bear… it’s insane, but at least it set up for an easy title.

The idea was to capture what recovery looks like, and I feel that was achieved. The other reason I filmed is because you can always delete but you cannot capture content later… during these times it’s so intense and Eduardo was on so many drugs that I worried he would question decisions we made later, i.e. the decision to amputate his hand. Having photos and footage of what he was dealing with puts to rest any lingering questions, which always helps moving forward.

 Jen and her camera.

Jen and her camera.

My initial plan was to be on the documentary production team and be part of ‘making the film’ but that rapidly changed when Director Phill Baribeau saw how poignant the role of the caregiver is. I was in essence kicked off the team, but in the best way possible - my role then switched, I gave all of the footage I shot to the documentary, became uninvolved in the ‘making of the film’, signed away my creative rights, put everything in the trusted hands of Phill and became a subject of the film.

Now, when I look back, picking up the camera has so much more meaning… it’s not just an intriguing survival story, but a story that can be used as a roadmap to anyone going through mass trauma. The footage really shows the raw nature of recovery, it’s an arduous journey but the transition he has gone through is phenomenal and sharing this will hopefully show others that, with some serious perseverance, you can get back to a life you enjoy, a different life, but you can own it and make it pretty damn awesome.

We decided to shorten the name of the documentary from ‘Charged by a Bear’ to ‘Charged’ because although he was ‘Charged by a Bear’ the main take away is that he is still ‘Charged’ for life…  I truly hope this film inspires others to overcome whatever they are dealing with, ‘get charged’ and get back to this phenomenal thing we call life.