So Much So Fast

SO MUCH SO FAST

So Much So Fast film - Poster larger

What would you do if you were 29 and found you may only have a few years to live?

So Much So Fast is about the remarkable events set in motion when Stephen Heywood discovers he has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and his brother Jamie becomes obsessed with finding a cure.

From Oscar-nominated directors Steven Ascher and Jeanne Jordan comes a black-humored cliffhanger of romance, outsider science and the meaning of time.

SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL NOMINEE — Feature Documentary


2006, 88 min.
Produced in association with PBS Frontline, ZDF/ARTE, BBC Storyville & TV2/Danmark

So Much So Fast film - Ben, Stephen & Jamie Heywood

SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL Documentary Nominee
AUDIENCE AWARD
Independent Film Festival Boston
HOT DOCS TORONTO
FULL FRAME FILM FESTIVAL
DOCUWEEK
International Documentary Association
BEST OF FESTIVAL
Woods Hole Film Festival
VANCOUVER FILM FESTIVAL
MELBOURNE FILM FESTIVAL
NASHVILLE FILM FESTIVAL
Video Librarian Best Documentaries
So Much So Fast film - Wendy & Stephen Heywood

“Triumphant! A story that keeps expanding until it seems to fill the universe. Unforgettable.” Four starsTy Burr, Boston Globe

“Gripping, intimate, complex and dramatic.” Sundance Daily Insider

“The filmmakers sustain an atmosphere of relentless forward motion. A perceptive portrait of an entire family in revolt against fate.”
New York Times

“Humorous. Impressive. Effortlessly profound.” Slant Magazine

“Director-writers Steven Ascher and Jeanne Jordan have created a beautiful film that unfolds like a thriller. Profound questions sneak up on you almost without you realising it.”
Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)

“Elegantly presents both a critique and a celebration of American optimism.” Grade A-
Entertainment Weekly

So Much So Fast film - Stephen Heywood
Produced, written and directed by Jeanne Jordan & Steven Ascher
Cinematography by Steven Ascher.
Edited by Jeanne Jordan
Music by Sheldon Mirowitz.
So Much So Fast film - Wendy Heywood

REVIEWS – click to expand

“Triumphant! A story that keeps expanding until it seems to fill the universe. Unforgettable.” Four stars – Ty Burr, The Boston Globe

“Jaw-droppingly good. Oscar-worthy. You’ll be hearing a lot about So Much So Fast.” – Geoffrey Kleinman, Air America

“The filmmakers sustain an atmosphere of relentless forward motion. A perceptive portrait of an entire family in revolt against fate.” – Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times

“Director-writers Steven Ascher and Jeanne Jordan have created a beautiful film that unfolds like a thriller. Profound questions sneak up on you almost without you realising it.” – Clare Morgan, The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)

“Gripping, intimate, complex and dramatic.” – Claiborne Smith, Sundance Daily Insider

“Filmed with insight, tenderness and even a little black humour, the aptly titled So Much So Fast is concerned with the ‘intimacy of bad luck’, but is truly about love, courage and discovery.” – Simon Horsford, The Telegraph (London)

“Humorous. Impressive. Effortlessly profound.” – Nick Schager, Slant Magazine.

“Elegantly presents both a critique and a celebration of American optimism.” Grade A- Scott Brown, Entertainment Weekly

“Compelling.” – Michelle Archer, USA Today

“Amazing. A 2006 Sundance favorite in the documentary category. It makes the concept of fictional narrative drama seem just a little bit ridiculous.” Five Stars. – Tim Cogshell, Box Office Magazine

“As intimate a movie as one could imagine. Steve Ascher and Jeanne Jordan mine such fresh feelings from what might in other hands have been a predictable story. And the Heywoods, for all their trouble, are never objects of pity, but rather of an existential nobility.” – John Anderson, Variety

“A gloriously subversive sense of humor.” – Talha Burki , The Lancet

“Packed with a striking, full range of emotion. Completely, perfectly balanced in its approach. Grade A.” – Audrey Rock-Richardson, Tooele Transcript-Bulletin

“One of the most compelling, emotionally resonant films in years.” – David Walker, Willamette Week

The film is no maudlin pity-fest: It’s an absorbing account of fraternal love and obsession… Condensing years of filming down to 87 minutes makes every cut register with a pang of mortality: The temporal ellipses swipe away precious weeks and months in a flicker. Stephen makes a brave and candid subject—sometimes hilariously so. Asked what advice he’d give himself if he could go back in time before the diagnosis—the kind of question that begs a wet-eyed response—the nearly immobile Stephen murmurs, “Have more sex on film.” — Jim Ridley – The Village Voice

“Both deeply sad and profoundly joyous.” – Rebecca Alvin, The Cape Codder

“Moving and Funny! Dark humor is one of the strongest threads in ”So Much So Fast.” – Rhonda Stewart, Boston Globe

“Smart and probing. A must-see favorite!” – starred review, Baltimore City Paper

“The humble people doing extraordinary things portrayed in So Much So Fast awed me. As I watched them move their mountains, the superb storytelling sparked new perspectives on my own life, which is a grand feat for a film.” – Agnes Varnum, RealScreen /Agnes Varnum.com

FESTIVALS AND SCREENINGS

WORLDWIDE BROADCASTS
United States – FRONTLINE, PBS
United Kingdom – BBC STORYVILLE
Germany – ZDF
France – ARTE
Denmark – TV 2
Australia – SBS
Belgium – VRT
Canada – CBC
Israel – YES
Sweden – SVT

THEATRICAL SCREENINGS

MINNEAPOLIS, MN
Riverview Theater

AMHERST, MA
Amherst Cinema

SAN JOSE, CA
Camera 12
CAMBRIDGE, MA
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

COLUMBUS, OH
Wexner Center for the Arts

THESSALONIKI DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL
Greece

IOWA CITY, IA
Bijou Theater

WORCESTER, MA
Cinema 320

PORTLAND, OR
Hollywood Theater

BOSTON, MA
Coolidge Corner Theater

SALT LAKE CITY
Tower Theater

PARK CITY, UT
Sundance Screening Series

BOSTON
West Newton Cinema
On screen for 9 weeks!

CHICAGO
Gene Siskel Film Center

SAN FRANCISCO
Roxie Cinema

ELDORA, IA
Grand Theater

AUSTIN, TX
Drafthouse Cinemas Lake Creek

CUCALORIS FILM FESTIVAL
Wilmington, NC
FT. WAYNE, IN
Fort Wayne Cinema Center

SALEM, OR
The Salem Cinema

NEW YORK
Village East Theater

FORT WORTH, TX
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

SILVER SPRING, MD
AFI Silver Theater

INDIANAPOLIS, IN
Key Cinemas

AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL IN MOSCOW

VANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

ROCHESTER, NY
The Little Theater

HOT SPRINGS, AR
Behind the Mall Cinema

KANSAS CITY, MO
Screenland Theater

LOS ANGELES – IDA DOCUWEEK – HOLLYWOOD

MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

WOODS HOLE FILM FESTIVAL
Winner – Best of Festival!

PROVINCETOWN FILM FESTIVAL

CAMDEN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

LAKE PLACID FILM FORUM
HOT DOCS – TORONTO

MARYLAND FILM FESTVAL
FULL FRAME FILM FESTIVAL

INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL BOSTON
Audience Award Winner!

NASHVILLE FILM FESTIVAL

FLORIDA FILM FESTIVAL

WORLD PREMIERE – SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL
Documentary Competition

DIRECTORS’ STATEMENT

The first film we collaborated on was Troublesome Creek, released in 1996, about Jeannie’s family and their struggle to hold onto their Iowa farm. It was the most personal of subjects, but our hope was that the very specific details of the Jordans’ lives could be made to resonate with universal themes about family, American history, economics, impermanence. We set out to overturn audience expectations about the cliches of Rural Americana, and tell a story people anywhere could see as their own.

As bad luck would have it, So Much So Fast is a logical extension of Troublesome Creek. It begins with Jeannie’s mother, Mary Jane Jordan, who was diagnosed with ALS just as we were finishing the editing of Troublesome Creek. At that time there were no drugs or treatments for ALS, and no reason to harbor even a shred of hope. The fact that ALS (one of many orphan diseases) is still fatal represents one of the deepest failures of the profit-driven pharmaceutical industry.

We had been looking for a way to express the jaw-dropping impossibility of ALS through film, and in 2000 we came across the Heywoods’ story in a New Yorker profile by Pulitzer Prize winner Jon Weiner (Jon recently published My Brother’s Keeper, a full length book about the Heywoods and their foundation.)

In the Heywoods we saw another chance to explicate universals in the particulars of one family’s story. There is tremendous vitality in the multiple threads of their experience. Robert Warshow’s essays on the gangster and the westerner capture something of the duality between Jamie and Stephen. Jamie is a provocateur, whose enormous ambition and in-your-face style make it possible create his organization from thin air and build it to the small empire it becomes. But he pays a price for it. Meanwhile Stephen’s artistic, self-contained charisma gives him an acceptance of his situation and a kind of moral force reminiscent of a reluctant gunslinger. In Troublesome Creek, westerns were a kind of touchstone for Russ Jordan. For the Heywood brothers, the constant in their lives is video games – like Diablo II and Starcraft.

For us, one of the most powerful aspects of documentary filmmaking is the ability to capture the passage of time, and reveal how real life plays out in its complexity over a span of years. We look for the layers of meaning in big moments and everyday events.

As filmmakers we share a love for the inherent drama of documentary and the lucid, documentary-like moments in dramas. So Much So Fast is a documentary, but we hope audiences will experience it in some ways as a nonfiction novel.

— Steven Ascher & Jeanne Jordan

PRESS NOTES & PEOPLE APPEARING IN THE FILM

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD PDF OF PRESS NOTES
So Much So Fast Press Notes

SO MUCH SO FAST

a film by

Steven Ascher & Jeanne Jordan

87 minutes

A West City Films production


SYNOPSIS

From Oscar-nominated directors Steven Ascher & Jeanne Jordan (Troublesome Creek) comes a black-humored cliffhanger of romance, guerrilla science and the redefinition of time.

So Much So Fast is about the remarkable events set in motion when Stephen Heywood discovers he has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and his brother Jamie becomes obsessed with finding a cure.


When asked what he would do differently in the five years since his ALS diagnosis, Stephen Heywood replied, “Have more sex on film.”

What would you do if you were 29 and found you may only have a few years to live? So Much So Fast is about the remarkable events set in motion when Stephen Heywood discovered he had the paralyzing neural disorder ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Made over 5 years, So Much So Fast tracks one family’s ferocious response to an orphan disease: the kind of disease drug companies ignore because not there’s not enough profit in curing it.

In reaction, and with no medical background, Stephen’s brother Jamie creates a guerilla-science research group and in two years builds it from three people in a basement to a multi-million dollar ALS mouse facility, the largest anywhere. Finding a drug in time becomes Jamie’s all-consuming obsession.

Stephen’s position is you can’t live every day like it’s your last (since you’d be hung over every morning). Instead, he gets married, has a son and rebuilds two houses. He and his wife Wendy’s laser-like observations of the world and their predicament go to the heart of the fragility of being alive.

Oscar-nominated filmmakers Ascher and Jordan were inducted into the stunning world of ALS when Jeanne’s mother, who is featured in their film Troublesome Creek, came down with the disease. Like the Jordan family of Troublesome Creek, the Heywoods are smart, acerbic and capable of upending the cliches of their situation with black humor and real insight.

So Much So Fast makes tangible the bonds between parents and children, husbands and wives, and siblings who are also best friends. We watch as some of these bonds withstand unimaginable pressure and others break. Audiences get an inside view of scientific discovery and what happens when a group of researchers goes up against the scientific establishment.

In So Much So Fast, there’s a lot going on under the surface. It’s about the biggest questions of life. The answers are never what you’d expect.


Appearing in the film:

STEPHEN HEYWOOD
A designer-builder and video game fanatic once described as “a hunky, poet-carpenter guy.” Diagnosed with ALS at 29. Moved back to his hometown near Boston ( Newton, MA), married Wendy and became father of Alex at 30.

JAMIE HEYWOOD
Stephen’s two-year older brother. Entrepreneur with no training in biology who quit his job to start the ALS Therapy Development Foundation. Married to Melinda and father of Zoe.

BEN HEYWOOD
Youngest and tallest Heywood brother. Built a house with Stephen and then went to Los Angeles to be a producer. Torn between his west-coast life and being with Stephen back in Boston. Marries Sherie Yearton during the making of the film.

WENDY STACY HEYWOOD
Stephen’s wife and mother of Alex. Born and raised in Missouri, she had her first date with Stephen after his early symptoms had appeared. A great mimic who can find the humor in almost anything.

MELINDA MARSH HEYWOOD
Jamie’s wife and mother of Zoe. A belly dancer and circus performer with a doctorate in medieval French literature. Star of the Heywood’s annual Bellydance Fundraiser.

PEGGY HEYWOOD
Mother of the Heywood boys. Works with Stephen on construction projects and keeps things running with childcare and anything that needs doing. Queen of multi-tasking and power naps.

JOHN HEYWOOD
Father, born in England. Teaches automotive engineering at MIT and passed down a love of engineering to his sons. Takes on all the work he can to pay for things insurance doesn’t.

ROBERT BONAZOLI
He and Stephen were friends in high school and, as co-founder, he signed on to build the Foundation up from zero. As Deputy Director, Robert manages the people side of the Foundation.

KEN THOMPSON
Lab manager. Stephen’s best friend from childhood who came to work in the mouse lab when Stephen got sick. Ken’s a key part of video game night. He and Stephen regularly go out to the movies and raise their kids together.

THE STAFF OF THE ALS THERAPY DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE
ALS TDI began with a bold attempt at using gene therapy to cure ALS. Remaining focused on ALS patients alive today (and the time pressure implied by that) they created a streamlined process to test potential ALS drugs in mice on a large scale, and a public information program on cutting-edge therapies. Their drug testing has focused primarily on FDA approved drugs (that can be given to patients immediately if found to be effective) and they remain committed to an open science model of sharing results directly though the web with patients and researchers. In 2006, they began a new research initiative with the MDA.. More information can be found at www.ALS.net.

ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
Also known as Motor Neuron Disease (MND). A neurodegenerative disease that causes paralysis by killing the nerves cells that control motion and movement. A few hundred thousand people worldwide have it at any time (including Stephen Hawking). Average life expectancy after diagnosis is 2-5 years, which may be extended for patients choosing to go on a respirator. Stephen, like 90% of people with ALS, has the sporadic form, for which no cause or cure is known (this form is not inheritable).

FULL CREDITS AND FUNDERS

Produced, directed and written by
STEVEN ASCHER & JEANNE JORDAN
Cinematography
STEVEN ASCHER

Editing
JEANNE JORDAN

Music
SHELDON MIROWITZ

Guitar
DUKE LEVINE

Vocals
ARDYS FLAVELLE

Composer’s Assistant
ANDREAS BJORCK

Best Boy
JORDAN ASCHER

Family Photographs
JOHN HEYWOOD

Family Movies
WENDY HEYWOOD, WENDY WILSON

Sound at first belly dance
JOHN OSBORNE

Scientific Illustration
JENNIFER FAIRMAN

Transcripts
MULBERRY STUDIO, JANICE STEVENS

Title Design
DONNA MEGQUIER, PATRICK GASPAR

Color Correction & Online
MICHAEL AMUNDSON

Online Edit
THE OUTPOST

Re-recording Mixer
RICHARD BOCK

Digital-to-35mm Transfer
ALPHA CINE LAB

Producers’ Representative
LOUISE ROSEN

Legal Counsel
SANDRA FORMAN

Fiscal Agent
CALLIOPE FILM RESOURCES

SPECIAL THANKS:
Dan Algrant
Bill and Cat Anderson
Alexandra Anthony
Dick Bartlett
Donita Boddie
Joan Brooks
Robert Brown, M.D., D.Phil.
Christina Cahill
David Carbone
Peter Carey
Peggy and Stanley Charren
Stephanie Clipper
Randall Conrad
Merit Cudkowicz, M.D., M.Sc.
Christine Dall
Tory Davis
Victoria Garvin Davis
Fran & Jan Delaney
David & Melody Dorfman
Christopher Eckman
Jan Egleson
Natatcha Estebanez
Gaiam
Ardys Flavelle
Rev. Miriam Gelfer
Jim Garrels
Alexa Goldstein
Steven Gullans, Ph.D.
Grace Episcopal Church
Ruth Hammell
Rick & Marlene Guttenberg
Chantal Kovach
Bob Hawk
Lyda Kuth
Liz Kramer
Donna Langman
Charles Ladlow
Steve & Martha Lewis
Paola Leone, Ph.D.
Ian MacConnell
Christopher Lydon
Brian McCarthy
Massachusetts General Hospital
Patrick C. McCarthy
Patrick M. McCarthy
Peter & Hilary McGhee
Carolyn McGoldrick
Rob Misasi
Duncan Moss
Robb Moss
Peter Mueller
Bill & Jennifer Nichols
John Osborne
Elise Pettus
Charles and Lucille Plotz
Robert Rodnitsky, M.D.
Jeffrey Rothstein, M.D., Ph.D.
Martin Schoeller
Kim Schmidt
Jonathan Schwartz
Susanne Simpson
Brad Snodgrass
Robert & Kristina Snyder
Society for Neuroscience
Lisa Stewart
Charles and Sarah Stuart
Talamas Company
Shaleen Tethal
Jim & Susan Tobey
Ken Thompson
Underworld : Karl Hyde, Rick Smith & Darren Emerson
Geoff Jukes, V2 Music, Sherlock Holmes, BMG, Chrysalis
Andria Winther
Jonathan Weiner
Rodney Yee

The staff of the ALS Therapy Development Institute

For WGBH:
PETER MCGHEE
JOHN WILLIS
MARGARET DRAIN
DAVID FANNING
MICHAEL SULLIVAN

For ZDF/ ARTE:
ANNE EVEN

For BBC Storyville:
NICOLAS FRASER

Produced with support from:
MICHAEL W. MCCARTHY FOUNDATION

RADCLIFFE INSTITUTE FOR ADVANCED STUDY

LEF FOUNDATION

SHELBY CULLOM DAVIS FOUNDATION

WELLSPRING FOUNDATION

A production of
WEST CITY FILMS

In association with
WGBH/FRONTLINE, ZDF, ARTE, BBC
with support from
TV2/Danmark

Released theatrically by
BALCONY RELEASING

SO MUCH SO FAST
©MMVI, West City Films, Inc.

So Much So Fast film - Stephen Heywood

SEE THE FILM

“Watching this video makes you proud to be human.” – Amazon purchaser