NEWS

Special Announcement

September 29, 2011 Greetings friends!

The reason why Marion was on the phone with the lovely people from the Michael J. Fox Foundation the other day, was because they want to do a segment about Sam for their annual benefit this spring! Furthermore, they are huge fans of Sam and our crew, and they have enlisted our services to shoot a segment for them! So TOMORROW, Michael J. Fox's son (yes that Michael J. Fox) and Nelle Fortenberrry, producer, member of the board of the Michael J. Fox Foundation, and close friend of MJF, are headed out West to meet up with the crew! MJF's son, whose name is also Sam Fox, will be interviewing the other Sam Fox about the Run While You Can project.

We've known about this arrangement for a while, but being constantly on the road, in addition to the relative uncertainty of Sam's location from day to day, have made it difficult to plan logistics. However, all the arrangements are finally final, and Nelle and Sam will be meeting up with us in the Lake Tahoe region, arguably one of the most beautiful parts of the PCT. We are so thrilled to meet Nelle and Sam and are really looking forward to the interview between Sam Fox and Sam Fox. We are so honored be able to help the Michael J. Fox Foundation, and we are grateful for the opportunity to do so.  And don't, worry we'll be sure to treat Nelle and Sam to all the finest luxuries that our RV has to offer! Would anyone care for beef jerky?

Yours truly,

Cecily "Crazy Legs" Mauran

Support Team Fox of the Michael J. Fox Foundation: http://www.michaeljfox.org/help.cfm

Worlds Collide on the PCT (Halfway Point)

September 28, 2011 Since we left the summit of Mount Etna, things have been a little different around here. With the addition of Jim Fox and his rental car to our RV caravan, things - sneakers, RVs, language - are a little bit cleaner, and we suddenly have to double the coffee we brew.

There are universal properties that all parents possess, and in times of need and desperation, those properties kick into high gear. The wonderful and supportive Judy Patneaude actually sent FOUR tupperware boxes of cookies to the nearest town for us to pick up (even gluten-free for Marion!). Ben's equally amazing mother Joelyn picked us up from the airport and dropped us at the RV rental with a bag full of food. My own mom and aunts tenaciously comment and "like" our updates as if feeding us emotional comfort food, and now we have our very own Dad on the trail.

But it's not just any dad, it's Jim Fox.

The new trio

After leaving Sam headed Southeast on PCT, we drove into Redding and made the Starbucks parking lot our home-base for the day. While I slaved away on a blog post for YOU PEOPLE, Marion had a conference call with people from the Michael J. Fox Foundation, who want to do segment on Sam and to use our crew to film it.  While Marion made the RV a makeshift office, Sam Coale, a friend of ours, met up with us- yes we're still in the parking lot. Sam, who is another Rhode Island local, but based out of LA has been hugely supportive of the film and volunteered to shoot some b-roll of the gorgeous Pacific Northwest for us. We basically showed him a map and some particular areas of interest, and he took off in his dusty Subaru. I believe he is currently filming shots of the wildfires in Oregon right now.

I used to disdain Starbucks for their overpriced coffee and mega-corporation status, but I am suddenly so grateful to be able to sit, unbothered, in our RV, and use their FREE wifi. Whenever we find internet, we gorge on it like starved Cheetahs, since there are always e-mails to send, bills to pay, blogs and photos to post, and research to be researched. But this is what life is like, filming a movie/fundraising on-the-go, and did I mention our subject is a moving target? So we graze whenever we find a spotty signal, and go crazy in a strip mall parking lot. So while my morals are questionable by supporting a chain enterprise voraciously, it seems like a fair trade for a few measly paragraphs.

After our day spent in a scenic Redding strip mall, we headed to the Scott Mountain Summit to meet Eric and Jim, and hopefully catch Sam coming in for the night.  In between slamming on the breaks for the hairpin turns and sudden deer crossings up to the summit, I wondered what Sam's condition would be like, as I inevitably do and assumed that he would be in bed by the time we reached him at 9 p.m. To my surprise, we found the trio sitting around a blazing campfire. Jim had treated the boys to filet mignon. Wrapped in bacon. What's more, Sam drank 11 liters of water that day, and seemed comfortable and happy. The next morning, Jim woke up in the dark and hiked the first 8 miles with Sam, providing morale and support during Sam's toughest time of the day.

Interviewing Jim

It became clear that Jim didn't just fly across the country to spend the night parked in an empty parking lot where an outhouse was a welcome luxury. Oh no no, Jim brought his A-game, as well as a couple tricks-namely bacon-wrapped filets-up his sleeve. Jim was a gust of East Coast wind that arrived just in time to push our momentum forward. As the halfway point of Sam and our journey approaches, we have physically and emotionally come so far, yet this only serves as a reminder of how much more is to come. I've learned in Christopher McDougall's amazing book about ultrarunning, called "Born to Run," that the true halfway point of an "ultra" (which range from 50 to 100 miles long) is when you have 20 miles to go. Fatigue and stress ultimately slow down the body, making each mile more difficult than the last. But Jim's military efficiency and no bullshit approach, tightened the midpoint slack. For the record though, John Bernhardt, if you're out there, you're irreplaceable, we miss you, and we want you to be healthy and back soon!

The next few days were filled with lots of ups and downs (pun intended!) The "ups" consisted of the footage we filmed of Sam in the Castle Crags region, and a delicious breakfast in Dunsmuir, thanks to Jim Fox. The "downs:" an extremely frustrating attempt to reach Sam at a forest road crossing that was thwarted by the road's condition and our unyielding RV suspension, as well Sam's mentality, whittled away by fatigue. We were, however, about to receive another uplift, by way of a man named Condor.

One of our "ups" was catching Sam in the Castle Crags region

 

I recommend the "Truck Stop" omelet at the Cornerstone Cafe

Sitting around the fire at Ash Camp, later that evening, we met Condor, a thru-hiker, who had stopped there for the night. Eric gave Condor some snacks and a beer, and I gave him some of our spaghetti. In exchange, Condor gave us his stories. A few months earlier, Condor had made some major life changes and decided to hike the PCT, and since then he'd lost 100 pounds, and grown an impressive beard. He was too late to make it to the Canadian border before the snow came, but he didn't care. Condor had made the decision somewhere in the Sierras to take his time to read and draw. Condor's enthusiasm for hiking- even months later- had us all mesmerized.  A few hours later, Sam came in, and we filmed the interaction between Sam and Condor, a collision of two PCT worlds; fast vs. slow; northbound vs. southbound; destination vs. the journey itself. One trail, two very different approaches. Neither was better than the other, but insight from the opposite perspective was an invaluable power for all of us, and we were all inspired by Condor.

Condor!

The next night we stayed at David Wilson's house in Burney. Wilson, a fan and follower of Sam, generously offered up his home and hospitality, and caught a glimpse of what it was like to film a man on the run. Sam was in by around 11 p.m. and we were up by 5 a.m. racing ahead of Sam to anticipate him on film. When Sam came in later that day, his interview was drastically different than those recently. He was chatty, upbeat, thankful, and even talked about the beauty and spirituality of the trail. It made me wonder if the recent conversation with Condor had cast a different light on his journey, and made him more appreciative of the trail. I'm sure that Jim's presence, the conversation with Condor, and the kindness of a stranger, David, had a positive effect on Sam's attitude, but unlike Condor, Sam is not stopping to read and draw, he's got a trail to finish.

 

Until next time,

Cecily "Crazy Legs" Mauran

 

FUNDRAISING UPDATE

Dear friends,

While Sam’s team works to reach its $250,000 goal for the Michael J. Fox Foundation, ours works to cobble together donations from fans and generous patrons for a feature film budget. But it is not easy for any of us to be diligent fundraisers while out on the trail. Each day the crew is faced with the challenge of locating Sam in the midst of the Pacific wilderness to film him like some kind of rare species in its fall migration. I remember watching BBC’s Planet Earth series and being totally impressed and mildly horrified with a particular “behind-the-scenes” feature, in which one patient cameraman had camped out in a make-shift duck-blind in the jungles of New Guinea for weeks on end just for one 20 second shot of a very rare bird of paradise. We wait for hours, not weeks, but the glimpses of Sam are comparably brief, and by the time he blows past us we’re already contemplating our next location and how to get there on foot, several hours ahead of him, once again. This daily ritual, and all its critical preparation, does not give us much free time to return emails and make phone calls to politely beg for the money that we desperately need to finish the film. We’re living in the moment, and considering the future only so far as to when we anticipate Sam’s next appearance.

We set out to document Sam’s incredible challenge, and we’re doing it, but we are spread thin. Our two-week shoot in Washington was a trial-by-fire, in which we learned how to orchestrate logistically complex shoots, work as a unit, and live together peaceably in an RV, (the secret is hot showers, hot food, and cold beer.) But the majesty of the Pacific wilderness, and the sheer gutsiness of Sam’s endeavor deserve more attention than we are able to give with just one camera and 30 days. Friend and saintly volunteer, Sam Coale, has offered his energy and his camera to help us get more of the shots we need, and in my brief time-off from the trail in LA, I have reached out to a number of photographer friends to try to enlist some more help. Not only do we need more cameras, however, we need more time. I budgeted our shoot for 30 out of 60 days, but given the unpredictability of many key factors, including the weather, Sam’s pace, and daily condition, it seems ludicrous not to spend as much time as we can on the trail filming.

This is all to say that our fundraising campaign is ongoing. We need to spend the next five weeks on the trail filming, which means adding another 20-25 days of shooting, effectively doubling our $50,000 budget. With our fiscal sponsorship from the International Documentary Association in place, we are a tax-exempt operation, and any donations to the film from this time on are 100% tax-deductible. I am confident that between the generosity of our growing fan-base and an crucial offer of support from the Michael J. Fox Foundation, we can raise the money to get the shots we need to tell this story in all its depth.

Many of you have already given to our cause through our successful Kickstarter campaign, which was an overwhelming-127% funded! You can see the fruits of your donations at work on the film’s blog, where we have been posting photos and stories about our adventures in this hot pursuit. For those of you who have been meaning to contribute but haven’t yet – your procrastination has paid off! Now is a better time than ever to give, because your donation will be tax-deductible. Simply go to our IDA web-page, pay online, and we will send you a tax-receipt. And for everybody who wants to help – whether you’re unable to give monetarily, or have given already and want to do more – just tell your friends! Spread the word, stoke the fire, stir the beans…

It has been three weeks since we began filming, and we’ve got another five to go. Despite some persistent pain in his ankle, Sam is in fighting shape and is charging through Oregon to the California border where we’ll be waiting for him, cameras primed. Please check in with us often, and THANK YOU for everything you’ve done already.

 

Best wishes for the fall and many, many thanks,

Marion

KICKSTARTER 127% FUNDED

 

It's been a (busy) week since the Kickstarter campaign came to a close, so we've barely had time to announce that we successfully reached our goal and WENT OVER the $12,000 to a final total of $15,325! We are so excited, and grateful for all your support. Your donations will be put to work almost immediately - buying Jack Daniels for Ben - and other kinds of fuel, like gasoline. We spent $100 gassing up the RV yesterday to get to from Stevens Pass to Seattle (the blog update is forthcoming), so we really appreciate your generosity in funding the film. Now that your pledges have been cashed in, we're getting to work on your making your rewards. I can assure you that there will be some heated discussions over the selection of songs for the crew mix-CD.

Much love and many thanks from the road,

 

Marion