Cancer journey co-pilot's log star date 11.14.23...
Thanks to LK for informing me that November is National Family Caregivers Month! By coincidence, it is also the month that I won an award for my caregiver-themed short film, A History of Worry, at the ninth Oregon Short Film Festival in The Dalles in 2021.
To be clear... I am not a professional filmmaker. But thanks to Kara, I have watched three short films I made in collaboration with friends and family play on the big screen.
The first began as a mock arthouse movie that I shot with a childhood friend as we tried to make the best of our annual summer camping trip in the shadow of Kara's recent cancer diagnosis. The second emerged from a trip to Rome, Italy, where I attended the second screening of the same movie (all 35 seconds of it!) in a giant amusement park.
While exploring the city, I amassed some footage of me walking through places I had seen in the 1953 Audrey Hepburn film, Roman Holiday. On the plane ride back, I wondered to do with that footage, and wrote the poem that would become the narration for my four-minute short film about a caregiving spouse on the brink of self-destruction.
From there, it was just a matter of finding the right people to help transform my poem and walking shots into a visual story. So, following Kara's advice--for pretty much everything in life--I turned to the talent and resources closest to me. (She liked to say, "You have what you need all around you.") Naturally, this meant hitting up a World Air Guitar champion:
And a real guitarist who opened for Alice In Chains:
To complete the emotional landscape originally shot by my cinematographer:
And deliver a story that truly evoked the strength of my love for a woman who taught me to pursue my own vision and no one else's:
I screened the film in my living room to a tearful audience of one. Kara loved it, and got to watch it again five months later on the side of a building at the Sunshine Mill Winery eight-three miles outside Portland on a chilly Saturday night.
She also got to watch me win an award for Best Experimental Micro Film and give my astounded acceptance speech in a packed barroom. Toward the end, you can hear people cheering when they realize Kara is in the audience. At first, she flinches, taken aback by such enthusiasm... but then she rises, gives an elaborate curtsy, and brings the house down.
A History of Worry was shot with an iPhone 7 and edited with iMovie. Narration by Rob Messel. Music by Edward Bowley Jr. Visuals by James J. Butler. Inspiration by Kara Picante Muir.
Thank you, baby. For supporting me. For nurturing my creative spirit.
And for letting me take care of you when you needed it most.
Here's to the caregivers.
The city of worry is a tough, tough place.
But it's worth it, isn't it? It was for me.
Until next time.
--Charles Austin Muir
Photos courtesy of Lenny Gotter and the Oregon Short Film Festival