Leonel Oliva, real life nurse, stars in upcoming THE SHIFT M.A.D. Elephant, Inc. and Oliva Productions, Inc. are pleased to announce the completion of motion picture "The Shift." Written by newcomer Leonel Oliva, a real-life nurse, the film explores life and death issues based upon Oliva's emotional and sometimes shattering experiences in the emergency room, where the wrong decision under pressure can result in a horrific outcome.
Directed by Lee Cipolla and co-starring acclaimed actor Danny Glover, Casey Fitzgerald, Genesis Ochoa and Sara Castro, the goal of "The Shift" is to entertain, educate and inspire its audience by taking them on a roller coaster of emotions as the nurses care for each patient they receive in the emergency room.
Eye Spy was able to get a one on one with creator and writer, Leonel Oliva, a real-life nurse and producer Melanie DiPietro for a more in depth story behind how the film was created
Leo: 6 Years worth of nursing. 6 Years worth of bedside patient care and holding the hands of patients, families and children during times of need. Seeing the look of despair in the eyes of patients who are suffering and asking for a help that we cannot give. Then on top of that, seeing and knowing first hand the despair of Nurses when we wish we could have done more. It's a story about the untold intimate moments that as families and as nurses, we never share. I felt an overwhelming need to give a voice to these moments and feelings that, for so many of us, frighten us.
2. What made you want to tell your story?
Leo:Truth. Hollywood has been making a lot of movies lately that are remakes, adaptations, spinn-offs or sequels to other movies. It's very difficult to go and see something original and I think that stems from a fear of writers, actors, producers and mainly studios to make movies and tell stories that are true to our lives for a fear that they may not be profitable. I believe that we are thirsting as a society for honesty. I wanted to put a story out there that approaches one of the most difficult topics in life, death, from a very honest and truthfull angle.
3. How did the cast come about?
Melanie: For an independent feature film we actually had a very large cast. We auditioned hundreds of actors/actresses but for each role some one just "clicked".Casey Fitzgerald stars in THE SHIFT
Casey Fitzgerald - Leo maybe you want to tell the story of how casey almost missed her audition and how she wasn't what you pictured at all. When I wrote the role of Amanda, I did what most men do when writing women, not a very good job. But as an actor, I'm a firm believer that if we trust great acting, we will get magnificent performances. Amanda was written to be cold, calculated and methodical. Watching a lot of girls audition for the role highlighted that. When Casey walked in for her audition, having just come from her first skydiving experience, she brought a sense of life to the role that we hadn't seen anyone else bring. She was immediately put into the "callback" pile. Come the date of callbacks, she came in right at the end of the day when we were packing up getting ready to leave. We had just about made up our minds on who our top picks were until Casey sat down for her audition. She brought such a level of honesty and truth to her portrayal of the role that it was undeniably memorable. Casey's caring personality and innocence shone through the mechanical nature of Amanda and brought a whole 'nother layer that was definitely necessary to make her character a lovable one. I remember asking her as she was about to walk out, "What's your availability in the months to come." She smiled and replied, "Free."
Genesis Ochoa - Genesis was cast as Emily, a six year old girl dying of cancer. For the role of Emily we knew we needed to find the right little girl who had the sense of maturity to understand the scenes, yet still have the innocence of a child. Genesis did not actually submit to audition for our film. We were holding our casting sessions at CAZT in hollywood and our director spotted Genesis in the lobby waiting for another audition. As soon as he saw her, he walked into the room and said to Leo and me "See that girl in the pink boots. I want her to read for Emily." The director was right, she was perfect.Danny Glover stars in upcoming feature film THE SHIFT
Danny Glover - The question I have been asked the most is "How did you get Danny Glover for your film?". The simple answer is that we got extremely lucky. After I read the script, I felt a very strong connection to the Floyd character. Floyd serves as the mentor in the story and I knew that if we could get the right person in that role, the story would truly come to life as it deserved. I went to the other producers and the director and explained that I wanted to go after a "named" actor for Floyd. I knew it was a long shot, but I believe so strongly in the power if this story that I felt someone would want to take the role. I asked them to make a list of all the actors they would love to see play Floyd. I encouraged them to dream big. At the top of everyone's list was Danny Glover. Danny is a childhood hero of the director (our director is obsessed with the movie Grand Canyon) and as a huge fan myself I had to at least give it a shot. When Danny agreed to do the project, our dream had come true. Even though I had been preaching us to dream big, somewhere inside of me I doubted us getting someone we all admired and who we believed would be perfect for the role. The script is what persuaded Danny to do the film. When his agent told me that, I was in the clouds. Not only had he agreed to take the role, he wanted to take the role because the script was so powerful. As a producer I really cannot ask for a greater feeling than that. I felt very blessed to have found Leo and his project, blessed to just be a part of it, and blessed to have Danny come on board and support a project I believe in so strongly.
4. What is the message behind this and what are the steps needed to acquire them in real life.
Leo: The main message, because granted there are many mixed into this story as well as this journey, is actually a question: Where do we draw the line between being alive or actually living our lives? It's a question that I as a nurse, along with my colleagues face every day when dealing with family members of ailing patients and the patients themselves. We wanted to pose this question to the general public and ask them: Where do you draw the line?
Melanie: The secondary message is about the importance of DNRs. DNR stands for Do Not Resuscitate. Basically it is a waiver you can sign to stop a hospital from performing CPR and "coding" you when your heart stops. For a healthy person it might be hard to comprehend why you would want to sign such a thing but to understand it you need to think of it as an order to "allow natural death" which is a term that is starting to be accepted in the medical community. Talking about how you want to be treated when you are dying is important, but people are afraid to discuss it. If you have signed a DNR and God forbid end up in a coma, your family knows that you don't want to be kept on life support. They know that you want to be allowed to die naturally. This is a very complex topic and hard to address in a few sentences but I recommend that if someone wants to know more they should do some research and educate themselves about DNRs. At the very least families should talk about what to do if something were to happen. End of life care is a hot topic in the ethical and medical world. Just look at the case of Terri Shiavo. DNRs are meant to give the patient a choice while they are still able to do so.
5. What is the status of the film?
Melanie: We are currently in post production. We recently released our teaser on youtube and have gotten a pretty good response. We have a cut of the film and are in the process of planning some pickups and getting ready to head into the rest of post. The quality of the film so far is incredible, even with our ultra low budget. We are currently looking for some finishing funds to help us finish out this project the way it deserves.
*** If you interested in helping donate funds, visit http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/olivaproinc/the-shift-post-production
6. Tell us more behind your overall message behind this and what you want your viewers to learn.
Melanie: We want the audience to be left asking themselves "What would I do in that situation?" The great thing about THE SHIFT is that it presents several case studies through which we can examine the ethical dilemmas involved in end of life care. And with each case study we are provided with different viewpoints on how end of life care should be handled. On one end of the spectrum you have Kayle(Leonel Oliva), the main character, who believes in the patients rights to die. On the other end of the spectrum, Amanda(Casey Fitzgerald), the new nurse Kayle is training, believes that we should always do whatever we can to save the patient no matter the circumstance. To represent the midpoint on that spectrum we have Floyd(Danny Glover), the charge nurse who trained Kayle, and Carmen(Sara Castro), a mother who is watching her young daughter Emily(Genesis Ochoa) die of cancer. Floyd represents the medical authorities and how conflicted medical professionals and ethicist feel about end of life care. Carmen represents every family member who has watched a loved one suffer, not being able to bring themselves to make a choice about the patient's end of life care. Every viewer should find themselves somewhere in this spectrum, and the film should help them figure out where they land. What is important to understand is that the film does not provide an answer, it merely posses the question and lets the audience decide what they would choose. This film highlights the fact that making that choice of how to handle end of life care, is something very real and very difficult to deal with, but its even harder when making that choice is ignored.
7. Tell us about one of the real life inspiring stories behind the film.
Leo: So...real life story: My first patient ever, this goes all the way back to nursing school, was a 55 year old male who had a TBI(Traumatic Brain Injury) that had lead to his paralysis and vegetative state two years prior to me caring for him. I remember psyching myself up for the task of caring for what we call a 'total care' patient(one who needs everything done for them).
All pumped and ready to go, I began my "Nursing Duties": Changing his dressings, cleaning his Tracheostomy, Medicating him, etc. During my process I began thinking, "Wow. This guy is about my dad's age." and as I went to reach for something, medicine, bandage, pillow...I caught a glimpse of what would change my approach to nursing forever. On his bedside table was a picture of his family. A small 4x3 picture with his wife and two children ages approximately 4 and 6. My heart sank as questions came to me: Who am I helping? Am I making his life better? Am I making their lives better to grow up visiting a shell of what used to be their father? How would I feel had I grown up with my father under these circumstances? What if I was a father under these circumstances? What would I want? What did he want?
I was overwhelmed by these questions, by this awakening to the fact that my patients, the case studies and examples we learned from in school to care for, were actual people. Fathers, brothers, sons, people. More questions came: What are my duties as a nurse? To care for people. But what is caring? And in this scenario, who am I caring for? This patient? His family? I felt like there wasn't enough that I could do to make this man's life, or his family's, better. At home, talking to my father(also a nurse) I asked him, "How do you do this? How do you deal with feeling like you can't do enough?"
As I have cared for every person from then on, I have brought my father's philosophy to each bedside: Do everything you can, while you can. And I do. The film industry is my new bedside, and I'm doing everything I can for my audiences.
CREDITS, SOCIAL MEDIA AND TRAILER: