X: THCI began looking for a director, and again as told time after time, that this can’t be done on a small budget…why don’t we do one song?

But I knew in my heart, that would be cheating the future. I now felt a responsibility to “make a difference”. To help inspire others who felt alienation and loneliness, and do this one good thing. I told myself that I would sacrifice myself, if it made making this world a better place. In more than one way, It became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Directors wanted a lot of money too, something I was running short of, so I took the advice of my niece, Cheyenne, an actor herself, who told me, “You know what you want – you should direct it.” But I had never directed before. How could I become a director overnight?

Taking it as another challenge, I began researching directors, looking at their films, and learning what makes them tick. I also began searching again… this time for a producer, eventually choosing Pedro Resto, who produced the award winning feature film, “CrossBronx”, as well as numerous music videos for Shaggy, Todd Terry, India, Little Louie Vega and others.

Pedro brought with him, the award winning cinematographer Scott Beardslee. Together, we would create X: The Human Condition. It was not until after the production was shot, that I learned that Pedro was also told by everyone that this could not be done on a small budget, but he took it on anyway.

Murphy’s Law

The production was difficult. Everything imaginable and unimaginable went wrong. The stress was getting to me. Throughout the process, I argued with Pedro about the budget, asking him to trim more and more from what we could do, as we waited for the crew and actors to avail themselves for shooting days. Dates were scheduled, and canceled, over and over again, for months. I felt like my life was on hold for over a year, in some purgatory, and losing conviction, but I was in too deep to quit.

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I only had a small amount of money saved up and that was it, but Pedro kept asking for more and more of it throughout the production and those precious dollars were whittling away down to nothing. Every day this began to wear on me, more and more. I had to take money out of my business to keep funding the project. One day I stopped by my bank to make another withdrawal and I was shocked to find out that my bank account was EMPTY.

It was then that it hit me that I was completely neglecting my business, because the film production had taken over my entire life. I was putting my business on hold while I was working on the project and spending less and less hours every day working so it was understandable that this would eventually happen, but I didn’t even notice until it was too late.

I lost ten pounds off my already slim frame, had no appetite and fell into a dark depression. I looked like a living, breathing skeleton, and I didn’t care.

One dark and cold winter night, after a difficult day shooting in stormy weather conditions, I stumbled home in a stupor, collapsing at what felt to be the lowest point in my life, ready to give up on the film, the project, and living. I stayed up all night, considering ending my life as the only way out of the painful reality that my dream was hopelessly beyond my means… but when the sun came up, I, and the project were both still alive.

Never Give Up

I borrowed money to keep going. The shooting days lasted over a year and I had no budget left for editing or post production. So I began searching, once again, as I had done so may times before, for an editor to help me finish this project on zero budget. Impossible task… but I had one more inspiration up my sleeve.

Realizing one editor could never take on a huge project like this for no money, I looked for ten editors to take on one song each, and eventually found ten, of which five dropped out within a few days as soon as they found a paying job. Perfectly understandable in a bad economy where people are desperate to pay the rent, which led me to my next revelation. I had messed around with editing on my PC and found it fun. After yet another agonizing decision to spend money I didn’t have, I decided to get hold of a cheap IMac, and try out editing the half of the songs that were dropped by the editors that quit.

The Machine Breaks Down

Now my life took an unexpected turn. After a few weeks of editing, and new energy, I suddenly developed three serious physical problems at the same time – Uveitis, an eye disease, coupled with pigmentary dispersion syndrome, and chronic kidney disease. I also found that I was now at high risk for heart disease, which took both my parents.

My health went down the tubes. I was originally misdiagnosed with conjunctivitis by the head of St. Vincent’s hospital’s eye specialist dept. and as a result, the delay caused my vision to deteriorate to photophobia, where even a sliver of light would cause me unbearable pain. It felt like knives were being stuck into my eyes.  I had to wear sunglasses indoors. Going outdoors into the sun was nearly impossible. I thought, “This must be what it’s like to be a vampire”…At least I kept my sense of humor.

I learned later that if I had not gotten a second opinion on the day that I did, I would have lost my vision permanently.

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As for editing, I continued, in my sorry state. I had to turn the brightness down to zero, and sit six inches from the screen monitor to see anything at all. Still, I persevered somehow,  taking potent prescription eye drops every hour of the day. In addition, it was a mystery to the doctors as to why the pigmentary dispersion was not reacting well to treatment. I had never considered that my normal vision could fail me.

My health was always fine, I rarely got sick, and I never wore glasses…but now, I tried to make sense of what was happening to me…to understand why everything in the world seemed to stand in the way of completing this project.

And in the back of my mind, I thought that there must be a reason for all of this…

(Read the final chapter here…)