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So Much So Fast Press Notes
SO MUCH SO FAST
a film by
Steven Ascher & Jeanne Jordan
A West City Films production
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).