How did you meet Dee Dee Ricks, a young, vibrant hedge-fund consultant who found herself fighting breast cancer in her late thirties?
Dee Dee and I share a mutual friend who knew of my interest in the issue of access to health care. Dee Dee had started documenting her battle with breast cancer because she feared if she didn’t survive that her two young boys wouldn’t have anything to remember her with. When the recession hit and Dee Dee became strapped financially, she stopped filming. That was when Dee Dee and I were introduced and Dee Dee showed me what was at the time about 250 hours of footage.
What was it like stepping into a project that had been underway for so long?
It was challenging because you don’t have control, obviously, over what’s been shot – it’s all done. And there’s no going back on her treatment. We could shoot more interviews, but there was just a lot that I couldn’t go back and redo. It was a lot like putting a puzzle together and trying to fill in the pieces.
How closely did you work with Dee Dee while you were fitting the story together?
After going through all these hours of footage and deciding there was a story there, the deal I made with Dee Dee was that she couldn’t be involved until I had something to show her. Coming from a news background, I felt that there needed to be a distance, where she couldn’t be calling the shots and deciding what went in and what came out. Dee Dee started this process documenting her personal experience and we both agreed that going forward she needed to take a step back which is difficult to do when you are someone who is used to being in control!