Thursday, June 12, 2014

Reviews from the Hope for Steve documentary

We've gotten some great responses from our documentary premiere, that I wanted to share with everyone.  Thank you to those who have reached out to give thoughts and feedback, we appreciate each kind word & suggestion we received.  

Garret Cockayne (Lululemon manager)
"Since attending the premiere of 'Hope For Steve' at the buckhead theatre, I've been asked by countless people my thoughts on the film. The only word that comes up for me is honest. We got to see the good, the the bad, and the ugly in a compassionate & non-exploitive way; which is, sadly, something that can be missing when telling the stories of individuals in situations that we may not fully understand. At its root it was a love story."

Matthew Moore (Producer/editor/writer) 
At the after-party, I shared a drink with a woman who didn't know anyone at the premiere. "Hey!" she said, offering her hand, bracelets dangling, "I gotta introduce myself to some people." 
I quickly learned that she had come to the premiere because her daughter had been diagnosed with ALS at the age of 34. "Except, my daughter's significant other didn't make the same choice that Hope did." 
For the first time I am watching our film on a giant theater screen with people I don't know. All of those encouraging YouTube comments and Facebook likes have showed up to see the cinematic manifestation of the story they've been following for months, some of them years. 
For the 349th time I listen to Steve make the joke about "this" not being an old man's disease, "I was 28 years old when I was diagnosed . . . at least that's what I told her." he says, slyly looking to his new wife for laughter. 
I can still wath the film anew as if I had nothing to do with making it. It's doesn't matter that I know everybody's line by heart. 
Just minutes in people are laughing. They seem relieved that there is joy and humor and that this story isn't just a tragedy, if it is one at all. And when it's silent, the audience is not restless. Maybe there are sniffles, maybe there are tears, but our audience is riveted. 
Perhaps the thesis of the film, a comment made spur of the moment by our costar in a spontaneous interview given nearly a year ago.
"That's when he was like, you know, you don't have to stay with me, I understand if you go. . . . and I just never understand why he said that? I guess he was looking out for me, but I never would have left him."

Charlotte Tate (Artist)
Words can hardly even describe how I feel after watching the premiere of The Hope for Steve documentary today. The story of Steve Dezember, 31, who has ALS, and his amazing love story with is beautiful wife, Hope. 
The tears started within the first minute and never stopped. There were tears of joy, tears of heartbreak and tears of complete laughter. This movie was so unbelievably moving, as I knew it would be, but what I actually saw today with so much more than that. I am mad as hell at this horrendous disease that is robbing this beautiful man's life, but then inspired and moved by the love and joy Hope brings to Steve's life each and everyday. Their love can move mountains and change the world.I'm mad as hell that research for this horrendous disease is so unbelievably underfunded, but then I am so hopeful that something can be done to change that. That something starts with this movie. This love story of Hope and Steve.
They truly exhibit “for better or worse, in sickness and in health” love; the overwhelming love that everyone hopes to find in their lifetime. The love that God designed for us to share, to really live. The love that He tells us about in 1 Corinthians 13:8, “Love… always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” That is Hope & Steve love.  While they depend on others for support, so many others look to them to for inspiration. They set the benchmark for living each day to the fullest. They live on very little but have so much. Despite his health and their financial situation, they are truly rich. We all have so much to learn from them. Those of us who were able to be at the premier walked away better than we were when we walked in. We witnessed a transparent tale of two people that fell in love and held on tight through the whirlwind of life. The Documentary: Hope for Steve… love, laughter, and standing ovations.

Betsy Pyle Armentrout (Follower/Supporter)
 I learned about your event in the AJC on Saturday. My family has battled a related degenerative neurological disease and the article grabbed my attention. I did not know Hope and Steve prior to watching the documentary. Having witnessed the disease and their relationship through the documentary, I feel like a part of their community and now a warrior in their fight. Their candidness, humor, and integrity throughout the movie imprinted in my heart. Thank you for being courageous. These diseases tend to have quiet voices. Thank you for shouting words of love, optimism, and pain. Your fight and your voice makes a difference

Amber Goodwin Cloy (Follower/Supporter)
The Documentary Hope for Steve premier was emotional… impactful… captivating! We were invited into the life of Hope & Steve, to share in their joy, and in their sorrow, to get a glimpse into their love story. 

Gareth Asher (musician)
The movie is an inspiration for the world to wake up and pay attention to how precious each moment truly is.  Hoe and Steve want us to live our lives full of greatness.  They want us to hug the ones we love and not ake a single minute for granted.  Time is a gift.  We will laugh, we will cry, but we will preserve together, all in opes of awakening the mind that can rid our world of this horrible disease.  

Jeremy Brown (owner of Love is Art/Artist/co-directer of the drive product) 
The film was absolutely amazing.  It was a perfect blend of information & heartache, yet extremely uplifting and inspirational. The film gave me a glimpse into the disease, while providing the powerful message of hope & living every moment to the fullest.  I knew I would shed some tears of sadness throughout the film, but was pleased to also shed many tears of joy and laughter.  The film's ability to touch on so many heartbreaking  emotions, while at the same so many heartwarming emotions.  I left the film with a warmth in my heath and an outlook of cherishing every breath.  Two thumbs up.  

Kristen Wolf (Follower/Supporter)
I have always been a fan of love stories. What girl isn't? Last winter I went to see my friend Gareth Asher perform at Steve's Live Music in Sandy Springs. It was a beautiful Christmas show and the band all wore Santa hats and even sang some carols. In a little side room off to the left there were beautiful paintings set up with the name "DRIVE" in bold. There, I first heard the story of Hope and Steve Dezember, and although they were at the show that evening, we had not yet been introduced. Atlanta is a small town, and it seems that Hope and Steve attract the same kinds of people I love into their lives as well. Over the year I kept hearing bits of their story and seeing different friends working with the couple to create artwork, awareness, and concert benefits for the couple. The time came for the Buckhead Theatre Premiere and I had friends taking pictures for the event, singing at the even, and donating artwork for the event. Everyone was so excited and eager to see a film that would inspire a lovesick generation and culture to believe once more that love does indeed conquer all. At least, after the insane lack of healthy and successful relationships I've endured, and consoling multiple friends with aching hearts over too new breakups, that is why I went and what I needed that particular Sunday afternoon. I remember going with Adelaide Tai and hearing her say "I think this will be good for our spirits!" 
The film was beautiful. It captured the spirit of the couple so deeply. You watched laughing and weeping, feeling like it was your best friends going through this terrible disease with such grace and love. For some, that was the case, but I'd never actually met Hope or Steve, but in a weird way-- I knew them. The film captured how terrible ALS is while allowing the light of Hope and Steve to radiate through to the audience. What was captured by the lens made you care and made you pay attention to this couple who refuse to let ALS have the last word in their lives and in their love.
If you want something nice and easy, do not watch. If you want to go about your life unchanged, avoid this film. If you're looking to be inspired and moved, not only watch this film- but share it with others. Ask what you can do to help, and think about how much greater life is when the stakes are raised and love is on the line. This film is a call to action against ALS- you cannot watch and sit idly by.

Remember you can purchase your DVD now here

Lots of love! 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Hope for Steve the documentary Premiere

I never like to use the word 'perfect'.  It's usually a false word, nothing really is perfect.  However, I have no other word for Sunday, June 1st, our documentary premiere.  It was the perfect day.  

For starters Steve being able to attend this event is reason to celebrate alone.  For those who have followed our journey and are familiar with ALS, it's day to day.  The week leading up to the event there were 4 of the 7 days where he would NOT have been in the right condition to attend.  So it's a true blessing, and one I want to shout to the world, that Steve was healthy enough!  

Now something most don't know is that I enjoy planning things, so I was very hands on when planning our premiere.  It was fun meeting with our group of amazing volunteers and our team to discuss all the exciting things planned for the day.  It was an amazing feeling each new person who contacted me with a sponsorship, silent auction item, or donated piece for the event.  It's amazing to watch people come together with such passion for us.  

So we had some great visitors come in town for the premiere, from childhood friends to family.  It's always nice to have visitors but even more so when it's group of visitors! :D 

Steve & I love a reason to get dressed up, especially when that reason is going to a theater to watch the documentary we have been working on for close to 3 years on the big screen surrounded by some of our closest friends, family, & supporters.  The day blew all my expectations out of the water.

We get dressed up, gather up the troops, and head on the way.  I had been on the phone straight for a full week before working out details with all of our team & the day of all the texts and calls were calm & encouraging.  Saying things were going great & that the place was already full!  We arrive around 3:35, time to let some of the crowd get inside, but still time to take photos on the red carpet.  We were greeted by a beautiful crowd upon pulling up to the venue.  After snapping photos and a quick news interview we walk through the crowd to our seats.  I get chills when I see the amount of love others show Steve & I and this day was no exception.  Cheers and clapping as we walk through the crowd to the theater and so much love you can feel it.  As we find our seats we continue to try to say hello to everyone, we realize that it's a packed house, close to 700 people came!

Anxiously awaiting the movie we all get settled into our seats.  Now Steve & I have only seen a rough version of the movie before this day, so we were very ready to finally see the finished project we have all worked so hard on.  From the moment it starts, I have butterflies in my stomach and cannot sit back. I hold tight to Steve with a handful of tissues ready.  The tears start right away, and as I find myself focusing on wiping Steve's tears away I am able to catch glimpses at the audience wiping away their own.  Hearing the audience cry, cheer, laugh, and chant with our documentary is a feeling unlike anything I've ever felt.  It was a moment that I will replay in my mind over and over.  That kind of feedback is what you want from your audience.  The film goes on for about an hour & 10 minutes.  I clean Steve & myself up & get ready to get on stage.  

I was surprised that I had no nerves of the idea of getting on stage; I was so happy with the movie, felt like it showed our story so well, I was excited to hear the audience's thoughts, & for Steve to be able to see just how many people were in attendance.  Watching his face as I wheeled him out to the standing ovation filled my heart with so much joy I had to choke the tears back.  That moment right there made the stress of making sure the film is just as we want it, the stress of planning an event, the stress of getting Steve out of the house, the stress of every thing very well worth it.  

::SIDE NOTE:: I know that there may have been more feedback and questions from the audience and we are truly thankful for the response we have gotten thus far.  If you were in attendance and have any further questions or thoughts about the film, please do not hesitate to contact any of us; via Facebook, email, text, whichever. 

My review on the movie. :)  I have to say that I loved being able to see Steve & my personality shown so accurately.  We really are just a bunch of goofs that are wide open books.  Steve has such a sense of humor that shines bright & you can see that I have no shame. :)  You get a very intimate look into our relationship even some of the dark sides.  We of course aren't "dark" people and didn't want a "dark" movie, however, ALS has some real life "dark" moments that have to be shown.  I believe by us showing these hard to watch moments and us overcoming them together is part of what will help inspire others.  I am proud of our team for us all having such strong ideas and opinions for being able to come together and make this happen. I believe we can change the course of the disease through this as we do show accurately what ALS has done to Steve.  You see him being athletic to him being stuck in the bed to me lifting him out.  It shows the melt downs, it shows the tears, and it shows the fun!  :)  We have some friends and family say some very powerful thoughts and messages also.  Oh and can we talk about the sound track!  Michael Franti, Gareth Asher, Dave Matthews, Nahko & Medicine for the People, Zara Sky, Sam Sniper---hello! PS look up the Hope for Steve playlist on spotify.  I am pleased that we were able to show the full story of Steve & I between the medical side, the love story, & our adventures.  

So what now?  This is what : Buy a DVD $19.99 & 2 dollars from each DVD sale goes to ALS TDI.  Share this blog, share the trailer, share the documentary Facebook page, share the website, the HOPEforSteve page, share the link to buy DVD's, etc. :) 

Special thanks to: First of all to everyone who helped us financially make this happen.  Between the kickstarter and the sponsors, you all made it possible for us to make this film come to life.  Thank you too all who came to the premiere, you all helped make the night perfect.  Thank you to the crew (Matthew Moore, Sarah Spicer, Taylor Graves, & Eric Fraser) for all of their hard work in getting our story out to the masses and presenting it so well.  Thank you to all of our volunteers at the event.  My dear friend Stephanie Cottle from SCC presents took charge of making sure the day of went great, plus friends Erica Adams, Jennifer Soule, Daniel Friedgood, Sean Canavan, Travis Nolan, Stephanie Johnson, Ashley Shepps, Laurie Moletta, Ben Ritter, Marc Hewlett, Jeremy Brown, Nicole Higgins, Abby Franklin, Jared Lee, All about props, Visual Lab, Lori Prince, & Kaylin Prince.  Our photographers Raymond Adams, Deelite Photography, & John Ramspott; & our amazing cinematographer Jeff Kaplan. Our musicians who played during the opening hour: Gareth Asher & Zara Sky. Thank you to our families for supporting us and traveling to the event.  Thank you to our friends who all donated to the silent auction: Kristen Matalski-Rand, Garret Cockayne, Amy Bridges Spivia, Sara Lua Designs, Soul Makes Jewlery, Cold Georgia Clay, Lux Divine Jewlery, Skyline Fever, Roots and Feathers, Whispered truths, and many more.  

To see more photos from the event go like the Hope for Steve documentary Facebook page where all the photos have been uploaded.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

So that happened. :)

Steve & I have been having a lot of, "So that happened..." moments & I wanted to share them with y'all.  

May was a busy month that started out with a fun photo shoot with the free people bloggers.  For those who know me, know I love clothes.  Seems half the time I get the strict, "Please do not spend this gift on bills, buy something fun," order I tend to get a free people item.  But most of my clothes were actually Steve using his "fun" money buying me a gift.  (Yes he is amazing. :)) Well,  I am a fan of all free people not just their clothes.  Their blog gives lots of natural beauty tips, inspirations, & lots of encouragement for women to follow their dreams.  They teach women to find their freedom & what makes them happy.  My friend Kylie and I used to always pretend we were shooting for free people at our photo shoots---we would find loads of inspiration from every catalog and blog.  So shooting with them was an amazing experience. Not just because I'm a fashion junky who loves their clothes but also because it was a day to just me, doing what I love.  I don't get many of those these days---was hard to fully set my worry about Steve away but I did enjoy the day & the chance to meet so many great girls.  Check the blog here.  (Disclaimer: I'm sure this goes without saying I love taking care of Steve also :)) 

Aside from our normal busy visits we have weekly, May also included planning the premiere for our documentary, a lot of publicity/news/papers/interviews, & Dave Matthews.  

So after missing the chance to meet Dave Matthews last summer due to Steve being hospitalized we had our chance to go again May 25th as Dave came to Lakewood.  We had things planned when Steve suddenly got sick 2 days before.  After asking everyone on Facebook to pray & send good vibes Steve mustered the energy to go! (It works).  It was not only great to get out to a show, but it was an amazing show.  Steve, myself, Danny, & Jen drove down & met the crew & Stephanie out and enjoyed lots of dancing and laughs.  After the show, the 4 of us went backstage.  It was a surreal moment when Dave came out & he said to us, "I'm saving you all for last so I have a little more time," as he worked his way through the group of people waiting to meet him.  Carrying on conversations, each one being cut short to move to the next.  The first thing he said to Steve was, "I'm so humbled you made it out to see me & feel so honored seeing you!"  He then proceeded to tell us he was in awe of our spirits and love & that he was following us closely, thank you Jim! :)  It was a moment Steve & I will never forget & the genuine care & love that we received from Dave in those 8 minutes still seems like a dream.  Steve couldn't stop smiling to the whole night.  :)  Thanks to Dave's with hand man, Jim for helping make this night so perfect! :) 

We did several huge news interviews leading up to the premiere also.  We hope with each of these stories we reach more people to help get our story out to the masses.  
Yahoo Health

Tomorrow's blog is going to be all on the premiere! So excited to share thoughts of the night & movie with y'all as well as photos from the event.  Wanted to touch on these 2 big moments and some of the news we've gotten before the event. :) Check back tomorrow afternoon. 

Love & light!