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Men's Breast Cancer: New Canaan Man Seeks to Crowdfund Documentary

It started with the desire to document the stories of breast cancer sufferers and survivors in their own words, and it grew into a Kickstarter campaign seeking funding to help finish reach that goal to highlight two unlikely stories. 

"It all began with my son, Cooper. His best friend in the first grade lost his grandmother to breast cancer three years ago and his parents were involved in a lot of fundraising efforts for women's breast cancer," said documentarian Nick Sadler. "I was looking to do something to help them, and I wanted to film survivor stories. I wanted to film these women and their families and start a dialogue. I was filming these spots when I met Bob and Bill."

Sadler, a New Canaanite with a background in television and filmmaking who was involved in projects like the filming of Ray Romano's 95 Miles to Go, met Bill Becker, suffering from terminal Stage IV cancer, and Bob DeVito, one year cancer free, while searching for breast cancer survivor stories to film as vignettes. He learned the pair hadn't known each other prior to both being diagnosed one year apart with breast cancer, but were now "as close as brothers," he said.  

"They formed an immediate brotherhood," Sadler said. "I had no idea men could even get breast cancer or that it was so often fatal. The more I learned about Bob and Bill, the deeper I followed their story, the more generous they were toward me, letting me into their lives, into their families' lives, the more I got to know them as I followed them around, I knew theirs was a story I could tell to a wider audience."

So in working to find stories about battling breast cancer, Sadler turned the lens toward two men. With mortality rates at more than 25-percent in Stage III and more than 80-percent in Stage IV and "little going into funding" for a gender-specific way to combat it, Sadler said he saw a situation that "needed to change."
He brought on producer David Didato, a "well-respected commercial producer" he'd met through a mutual friend while Sadler was looking for someone "to give of their time," towards the initial survivor stories project. 

"David was touched and moved by the story of Bill and Bob and wanted to be a part of this," he said. "David and I have been funding this project so far by ourselves, going out-of-pocket to do this. I was talking to David about trying for a larger, full-length feature and, without hesitation, he said, 'Absolutely.' We really dove into this last May, when this all started."

With the idea of a feature-length film in front of them, continuing to produce the documentary on their own was untenable. They began doing their homework and settled on trying to crowd-fund the project. 

They turned to Kickstarter, seeking out a goal of $80,000 on the site to help fund the project. Sadler said an ideal goal would be closer to $179,000, which would take the documentary through every stage of production and polish and give them a work print that was ready to go, but said the current goal would allow for filming and producing a few specific scenes and walk away with a completed product that could be shown at film festivals and shopped around to distributors. 

"It would get us a finished film that needs maybe one more coat of polish," he said. "With avenues like Kickstarter, we have to build into our budget the amount Kickstarter takes away from the final amount raised and the cost of the rewards offered, so we're taking about 10-percent off the top, really. We're asking for $80,000 to get about $70,000."

On Wednesday, October 23, the Kickstarter campaign had 16 days left to reach its goal and was at just over $20,000 of the $80,000 goal. 

"I'm still incredibly hopeful. This is my first experience actually using the community of Kickstarter to fund a project," Sadler said. "It's important to stay with it. A great percentage of products get their funding in the last 48 hours."

Sadler said every little bit helped, but even if the fundraising goal fell short of the requested amount, it wouldn't keep Bob and Bill from having their story told. He said making the film allows men's breast cancer to find the framing around the human face that it deserves and he said the funding allows for the timeline of that story being told to be expedited. 

"We have a strong chance, a very good shot at making our fundraising goal," he said. "But we will find a way to make this film regardless. If I have to film this on my iPhone, I will. These funds let us tell the story more quickly, rather than asking for favors and begging for equipment and crew. And these men battling breast cancer are spread all across the country, hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles away from each other. These funds would help us get them all into the same room, let them shake hands and give each other hugs. We hope to do that sooner rather than later."

Sadler said there's been a severe lack of funding for men's breast cancer or clinical trials specifically aimed at battling it in males. He said, often times, treatment is "lifted wholesale" from treatment available to women.

"When people see the small amount of footage we've been able to put together, we hope they understand this is something we all need to act on," he said. "Frankly, a small amount of money can make a huge difference. Here's an chance to be a part of a project like this that would be such a wonderful, educational opportunity. Kickstarter lets people benefit from being a part of something like this from the ground up and stay with it through the life of the project. I think it's pretty cool."

The film is being produced through BarrelMaker Films. To donate to the cause, visit the Kickstarter campaign right here. The trailer for the film can be seen above. 

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