CAREGIVING CANCER: THE SILENT HEROES
"Caregiving Cancer: The Silent Heroes" is a documentary film dedicated to the caregivers of cancer patients. It reveals the reality of cancer and caregiving, provides valuable resources and inspiration, and gives a voice to the often voiceless caregiver.
After an epic 2 year long cancer journey, we are back in production with all new projects!
Prior to our cancer diagnosis, our first short film, "Welcome to Where You've Always Been" toured 21 festivals, won 5 awards, and received distribution on the international cable network Shorts TV. (Airdates/channel listing: www.shorts.tv) The film is also available on Amazon Prime. Direct link: www.amazon.com/Welcome-Where-Youve-Always-Been/dp/B07C29BYGT
"Caregiving Cancer: The Silent Heroes" is very much inspired by our cancer journey. We have partnered with a 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor called From the Heart Productions and together we are seeking grants, corporate sponsorships, and donations of any size from companies or individuals. This is a slightly different type of fundraiser than you may be used to, as it is not for "perks." Instead, ALL donations are 100% tax deductible.
We are grateful for a contribution of any size from $5.00 and up.
We are also seeking Executive and Associate Producers as follows:
Executive Producer with solo screen credit and IMDB credit = $10,000 donor
Co-Executive Producer with shared screen credit and IMDB credit = $5,000 donor
Associate Producer with shared screen credit and IMDB credit = $1,000 donor
Learn more about our story and vision by viewing elements of our pitch deck below.
If you are a potential investor/sponsor and would like to view the full pitch deck .pdf, please send a request here and we will gladly email it to you.
If you are able to share this campaign with potential sponsors and/or donors, we would greatly appreciate it. Even a simple share on social media is worth so much! We are so passionate about making this film. Thank you in advance for any and all support of our mission.
Mary Lou and Justin Sandler
With over 1.7 million new cancer cases per year, friends and family assume the role of caregiver without any prior knowledge of how to do so. "Caregiving Cancer: The Silent Heroes" reveals the reality of cancer, provides valuable resources, and gives a voice to the often-voiceless caregiver.
There will be an estimated 1,762,450 new cancer cases and 606,880 cancer deaths in the United States in 2019 alone.
With each new cancer case, a loved one is often thrust into the role of a caregiver. Sometimes called informal caregivers, they are unpaid individuals (spouses, partners, family members, friends, or neighbors) involved in assisting others with activities of daily living and/or medical tasks.
These caregivers suddenly find themselves in this role without any prior knowledge or training. They're often overlooked and overworked, making sacrifices in their own lives, and remaining silent -- often leading to caregiver burnout -- as they are suddenly caring for someone other than themselves.
Sometimes, the patient survives. Other times, they do not. In either case, at some point, the caregiver's duties are no longer needed. When this happens, the caregivers are frequently left dealing with the aftermath of guilt, sadness, anger, and grief -- with no idea how to cope with those emotions. One of the hardest parts for both patient and caregiver is just returning to some kind of "normal" life.
CAREGIVING IS UNIVERSAL
"There are only four kinds of people in the world.
Those who have been caregivers.
Those who are currently caregivers.
Those who will be caregivers,
and those who will need a caregiver."
- Rosalyn Carter
My name is Mary Lou Sandler. I am the wife of a recent cancer survivor.
In May 2017, my husband, Justin Sandler, was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. We suddenly found ourselves in two very new and unexpected roles: Justin as the patient and myself as the caregiver. It has been an intense journey but one of tremendous growth.
I will now be using my own life experiences to seek the answers that will benefit people thrust into the role of caregiver for loved ones diagnosed with cancer. Throughout this film, caregivers, patients, and the surrounding community will gain new insights about what it means to be an informal caregiver and learn valuable resources to help everyone involved.
It will teach caregivers that they must also remember to care for themselves. It will also help the community around the patient understand that the caregiver is just as much "in it" as the patient, and needs just as much support during this very challenging time.
This film will offer guidance on how to personally cope with the challenges of suddenly becoming a caregiver and how to deal with a loved one's physical and mental changes as they go undergo treatment for cancer. It will also give a voice to the often-voiceless caregiver.
"Caregiving Cancer: The Silent Heroes" is a documentary film that will educate, honor, and empower the caregivers of cancer patients. I plan to continue my fact-finding mission for ways to truly become a compassionate caregiver for one's self, as well as for others.
I have compiled (and listed below) several confirmed and potential interviewees I feel may be good for the narrative of this film. In addition, we will be interviewing caregivers during different stages in their journeys.
WESPARK CANCER SUPPORT CENTER / LOS ANGELES, CA
weSPARK is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for cancer patients, their families, and friends. weSPARK provides, free of charge, multiple services designed to heal the mind, body and spirit of all those whose lives that have been affected by cancer.
THE CAREGIVER SPACE / NEW YORK, NY
Severe time and financial constrictions make it nearly impossible for the caregiver to get away to support groups. It is critical for caregivers to have a free and easily accessible space to foster relationships and connection in order to care for themselves. That's us, The Caregiver Space. We're a community of caregivers who understand.
DR. DAVID DURHAM / ALBUQUERQUE, NM
Specializes in neuropsychiatric disorders including traumatic brain injury, movement disorders, cognitive disorders, as well as mood, anxiety and psychotic disorders. His education includes: Ross Medical College (Doctor of Medicine), The University of Kansas Medical Center (Master of Science), The University of Virginia (Internship in Internal Medicine), The University of Virginia (Residency in Psychiatric Medicine), and Duke University Medical Center (Fellowship in Cognitive Neurophysiology).
BEAUTY BUS FOUNDATION / LOS ANGELES, CA
Beauty Bus was founded in 2009 in memory of Melissa Marantz Nealy, whose life was cut short at 28 by a degenerative neuromuscular disease. As her mobility became compromised, preventing Melissa from leaving home, her family arranged for in-home haircuts, manicures and facials. Melissa said these treatments made her feel "human again." Inspired by the dramatic impact of these services on her emotional wellbeing, Melissa's family founded Beauty Bus Foundation to bring this same dignity, hope and respite to other families when they need it most.
Dwayne Johnson - Celebrity Actor and Caregiver
Rob Lowe - Celebrity Actor and Caregiver
The Baldwin Brothers - Celebrity Actors and Caregivers
Christine Magnus Moore, R.N., B.S.N. - Caregiver, Cancer Survivor, and Author
Dr. K. Azlan - Physician, Cancer Caregiver, and Author of "Three Cancers in Ten Months"
Deborah J. Cornwall - Author of "Things I Wish I'd Known: Cancer Caregivers Speak Out"
John W. Anderson - Author of "Stand by Her: A Breast Cancer Guide for Men"
Gwendoline Smith - Author of "Couples Confronting Cancer"
Darryl Pendergrass - Author of "Suddenly a Caregiver"
Lorraine Kember - Author, Motivational Speaker, and Caregiver
Robert A. Duke - Author of "Waking Up Dying: Caregiving When There Is No Tomorrow"
Patrick Dempsey - Celebrity Actor, Caregiver, and Founder of The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing
Cappy Capossela - Author of "Share The Care: How to Organize a Group to Care for Someone Who Is Seriously Ill"
Marc Silver - Author of "Breast Cancer Husband: How to Help Your Wife (and Yourself) During Diagnosis, Treatment and Beyond"
Elise Babcock - Author of "When Life Becomes Precious: The Essential Guide for Patients, Loved Ones, and Friends of Those Facing Serious Illness"
There will be over 1,762,450 new cancer cases this year alone. Cancer cases are expected to surge 57% worldwide in the next 20 years. For almost every cancer patient, there is a caregiver, making this topic very timely and relevant as those numbers continue to rise. Providing care to a loved one with cancer is an overwhelming and intense experience.
Compared to non-cancer caregivers, cancer caregivers tend to provide care on a relatively short-term basis, approximately two years on average – possibly due to the care recipient passing away or their cancer going into remission.
Despite the shorter duration of cancer caregiving, the burden of caring for someone with cancer is high: 62% of cancer caregivers are in a high-burden situation. Cancer caregivers spend an average of 33 hours a week caring for their loved one, with many providing 41 or more hours of care weekly, the equivalent of a full-time job.
More so than non-cancer caregivers, cancer caregivers often help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) like bathing, eating, and toileting; Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) like shopping, driving, and managing finances; and medical and nursing tasks. Alarmingly, 43% perform complex medical/nursing tasks without any prior preparation. Caring for a loved one with cancer carries substantial emotional and financial implications. Half of cancer caregivers feel high levels of emotional stress. 4 in 10 cancer caregivers want more help to manage their own emotional and physical stress.
In addition, 25% report high levels of financial strain from their caregiving responsibilities. Employed cancer caregivers report the need for work accommodations, like coming in late, leaving early, or taking time off to provide care (48%); going from full-time to part-time work or otherwise cutting back hours (24%); or taking a leave of absence to provide care (19%).
With my personal experience, I researched how to be a caregiver after Justin's diagnosis, as I had never cared for anyone with an illness before. I wanted to know how to deal with it emotionally, mentally, and physically. I wanted to know what to expect, how to deal with friends and family members, ward off unsolicited advice, and most of all, how to best care for my husband and myself, while living in the shock of it all.
During our cancer journey, Justin shared everything online. I didn't speak much, publicly or privately. In the beginning, I was searching for resources and felt lost and overwhelmed with papers and pamphlets. I simply couldn't find much out there covering what I was experiencing while I was experiencing it.
Then, when I was finally blessed with resources, I felt guilty for taking time for myself or even talking about my feelings because, in comparison, what I was experiencing was not "cancer." I also quickly learned that the caregiver is often overlooked.
But... I stuffed those feelings and kept riding the wave of adrenaline to ensure everything was okay for my love. We have learned so much from cancer, as our teacher and mentor, and have stayed positive throughout our journey. If I were to face this challenge again, I would make wiser and more informed choices.
While the role of caregiver was demanding and often required selflessness, it was also extremely rewarding. I learned how to be a better friend and family member; how to be more forgiving of others and myself; and that we are all only human, trying to survive and be loved.
This journey strengthened my beliefs in the magic of life and the blessings that surround us every day.
In the film, I am going to provide resources that I acquired along the way, as well as go on a fact-finding mission to discover new ways to help improve the lives of patients and caregivers. We have been working very closely with a remarkable cancer charity called weSPARK. In addition to using their healing services and support groups, we have also spoken before their board. We also utilized the services of Simms-Mann at UCLA.
Most recently, Justin and I have become members of the Patient Family Advisory Council (PFAC) at ULCA Hospital Santa Monica.
My heart and soul is in this film. I plan to give caregivers resources and information, a sense of community in knowing they are not alone, and most of all, inspiration to continue thriving before, during, and after cancer caregiving.
This film will include myself, Mary Lou Sandler, as an on-camera host and narrator, sharing my personal experiences and learning from the experiences of other caregivers. This may also include emotional healing practices with cancer coaches.
Interviews will include celebrity actors and authors, as well as a top neuropsychiatrist and other doctors, instructors, life coaches, and cancer support centers. The film will also include a variety of caregivers to learn how cancer has impacted their lives.
The interviews will be shot in a very artistic style, using multiple cameras while utilizing depth of field and unique backgrounds, to create interesting and powerful imagery while cinematically capturing captivating stories.
With a moving soundtrack, animation, and fair use footage, the film will deliver facts, statistics, educational information, and inspiration to the viewer. My goal is to create a film that will guide caregivers through a visually stunning and informational journey.
We are currently in the development / pre-production stage: raising funds, applying for grants, seeking sponsors, and contacting potential subjects. We will be shooting in Los Angeles beginning in December 2020.
We will also travel to select cities in order to interview additional experts, caregivers and cancer support centers. Our goal is to have the film completed by late 2021.
AUDIENCE AND DISTRIBUTION STRATEGIES
DISTRIBUTION AND MARKETING STRATEGY
We feel very strongly about the subject matter of this film, and plan on distributing and marketing it to a worldwide audience. We recently finished a successful festival tour with our first film "Welcome to Where You've Always Been" and received a distribution deal from the international cable network Shorts TV. We also released the film on Amazon Prime.
We made incredible contacts from our experiences both in the festival circuit and with distribution whom we believe will be instrumental in helping us get our new films world-wide distribution.
We will be entering "Caregiving Cancer: The Silent Heroes" into targeted film festivals that include the more prestigious festivals as well as smaller festivals that promote social change and awareness.
We will pitch the film to streaming and cable platforms like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO, Showtime, and IFC/Sundance. We also have our own Amazon Prime studio account and can distribute there as well. We have already secured the website and social media handles for the film and plan to build a strong social media following on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
We will be using our established internet presence, in combination with outreach marketing and press releases, to acquire media coverage and grow our social media following. We will also launch an interactive website with important information and resources for caregivers.
The film appeals to a broad audience including caregivers, cancer patients, medical staff, social workers, students, and educators. It is a film for anyone who has been touched by cancer.
AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT AND SOCIAL IMPACT
This film will benefit society by helping both cancer patients and their caregivers to cope with their illness and better understand each other. It will help their family and friends understand the best way to offer help, as well as know what not to say or do.
It will provide much needed resources for those going through the caregiver experience, many of which doctors never tell you about. It will be a source of comfort, inspiration, and hope for all those touched by cancer.
After seeing this film, it is our wish that the audience feels a sense of lightness, understanding, and a deeper compassion. We aim to explore all of the sides of cancer and caregiving -- even the sides no one talks about. We intend to uncover truths to educate the public about the reality of cancer and caregiving. Through all of this, we hope to spark deeper levels of communication between caregivers, their patients, and their community.
We are planning on a multi-platform approach through both social media as well as our relationships with select organizations, to spread this message far and wide.
We hope to create valuable partnerships with those individuals and organizations who can help take what we are doing here and continue to develop social change campaigns that will improve the lives of caregivers and patients alike.
We are in the development and pre-production stage on this film and have begun our fundraising. We intend to apply for every grant that is in alignment with our cause and seek help from those who, in turn, want to help filmmakers deliver very important and inspirational messages to help humankind.
We are also reaching out to companies to obtain sponsors in the way of donations or products. We have already secured our first 3 sponsors, Tofurkey, Mighty-O Donuts, and Authenticity 50!
We also have past working relationships with VitaCoco, Perfect Bar, and Veggie Grill, and we will be contacting several more companies aligned with our vegan lifestyle and missions.
Lastly, we are crowdfunding through Network for Good and our fiscal sponsor, From the Heart Productions. Our last film raised nearly $10,000 through crowdfunding within 30 days and an additional $10,000+ for post production through executive producers. Several of our executive producers and donors from that film are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to support our newest projects.
We are running a crowdfunding campaign through our fiscal sponsor, From the Heart Productions, as well as submitting to every grant that aligns with our philosophy. After the success of our first short film, we realized just how much community support we had and what we could do with those resources.
However, stepping up to a feature-length documentary requires some very important additional elements. A grant or donation would be greatly appreciated to help with our production and travel as well as post-production needs, including animation, soundtrack, deliverables, marketing, film festivals, and distribution.
While we have a desired budget for expenses and crew, we do own a small production studio and equipment and are dedicated to making this film with whatever resources we have, if need be.
The funds we raise will help improve the overall production value in many areas, as well as allow us to successfully bring this film to the largest audience possible.
Cinematography by Mary Lou Sandler
Mary Lou Sandler is a photographer, cinematographer, producer, director and owner of 3 cubed studios LLC (2016 Outstanding Small Business of the Year by the United Chambers of Commerce) with husband Justin Sandler.
Their award winning film, "Welcome to Where You've Always Been" (cinematographer/co-director/producer) appeared in 21 festivals, won 5 awards (including Best Short and the 2018 IIFC Inspirational Filmmaker Award), and is now available on Shorts TV (cable/satellite) and Amazon Prime USA & UK.
Once a working actress, video game stuntwoman, and fitness cover model, her focus now is to inspire and empower women to heal through the arts.
Her commitment to empowering women inspired her to establish FemaleFilmmakers.org (a female filmmaker group to "Empower and Employ Each Other"), and her empathy and infertility moved her to the documentary film "The Empty Womb," as cinematographer/co-producer. She has also published a photography book called, "The Beard Book," with proceeds benefiting breast and testicular cancer charities.
Mary Lou is the director, producer, cinematographer, writer, and host for the upcoming documentary, "Caregiving Cancer: The Silent Heroes" as well as the producer, co-director, co-writer, and cinematographer for the upcoming documentary, "MANtimacy."
Justin Sandler is a director, actor, drummer, writer, speaker, and cancer survivor. He and wife Mary Lou Sandler own 3 cubed studios LLC (2016 Outstanding Small Business of the Year by the United Chambers of Commerce).
A graduate of Indiana University, he has directed and produced cable TV in Chicago; wrote, directed, and produced commercials for ABC & FOX in Palm Springs; and has been in Los Angeles working as a professional TV, film, and commercial actor, as well as a recording and touring musician.
His film, "Welcome to Where You've Always Been" (writer, director, actor, editor, producer) appeared in 21 festivals, won 5 awards (including his award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Short, and the 2018 IIFC Inspirational Filmmaker Award), and is now available on Shorts TV and Amazon Prime USA & UK.
Justin is the producer, co-director, co-writer, and editor for the upcoming documentary, "Caregiving Cancer: The Silent Heroes" as well as the director, producer, writer, editor, and host for the upcoming documentary, "MANtimacy." He is currently performing his one-man show "Embrace Love Free" in Los Angeles as well as inspirationally speaking about his cancer journey, including an upcoming TEDx appearance.
ABOUT 3 CUBED STUDIOS LLC
Established in 2011 by award-winning filmmakers Mary Lou Sandler and Justin Sandler, 3 cubed studios, LLC is a full service film and photography studio. Their films have toured several festivals around the world and can be seen on cable and Amazon Prime. Their photography has appeared in magazines, books, on television, and in Times Square.
3 cubed studios creates original, heart-felt, and inspiring content while delivering passionate and powerful results for their clients. Their philanthropic mission is to develop, advocate and give to charity projects that activate, elevate, and heal through the arts.
LAURA FUDULI / MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST, ANSWER FINANCIAL
We can always count on Justin and Mary Lou Sandler for our corporate headshots, whether in their studio or here in our Encino office. 3 cubed studios is flexible, easy to work with and are able to make any subject feel comfortable and relaxed during a photoshoot. We will continue to use 3 cubed studios for all of our corporate headshots and any other photoshoots that come up along the way.
DIANA DUENAS / CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, ENCINO CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Mary Lou and Justin have been the official photographers of the Encino Chamber of Commerce for the past few years now. Their professionalism, easy going spirit and beautiful photographs have made them a favorite among our members. From headshots to event photography we have no hesitation recommending 3 cubed studios – Mary Lou and Justin for any photography needs.
DIANA SANCHEZ / PUBLIC & COMMUNITY RELATIONS DIRECTOR VAN NUYS AIRPORT
Mary Lou and Justin Sandler at 3 cubed studios have worked with Van Nuys Airport on a number of community events and have always provided exceptional service. 3 cubed studios combines technical expertise and skill with an enthusiasm for their craft that has made them a pleasure to work with. They approached our photography needs with positive energy and an attention to detail that is reflected in the quality of their product. 3 cubed studios were able and prepared to photograph in an array of our environments, whether indoors at a ceremony or out near our busy airfield. We would happily recommend 3 cubed studios, and would hire them again for our future photography needs!
JENNIFER GAYNOR-YAKER / CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, CONSCIOUS LIFE COACHING
I have done a few different projects with 3 cubed studios - videos, head shots, etc. Not only are they super professional, they are very fun to work with. I immediately felt I could be myself around them. Mary Lou is very skilled at bringing out the best in you and capturing it on film; she also has a true artist's eye. I felt very comfortable from the get go working with them, and the results were also excellent ; I've gotten a great response from my potential clients and on social media etc; in fact I got new consultations coming in the very same day my husband and I posted some new pics on Facebook! Overall, the experience has been very positive, from the "who" to the "what". I would not hesitate to recommend 3 cubed studios for your next project.