During my time living in Manhattan I took several classes at Gotham Writers’ Workshop to teach me the craft of writing my novel. I was very fortunate to meet and read many people’s books. One of them was by the actress Connie Shulman who plays Yoga Jones in ‘Orange is the New Black’. She is a hilarious writer and fingers-crossed we see her in print very soon.
Recently I found out that aside from being an actress, mother, writer, daughter, wife etc. in her spare time Connie has produced a documentary called ‘Looks Like Laury, Sounds Like Laury’. Connie has worked on this very personal subject for nine years. The film intimately chronicles the stages in a close friend’s journey after being diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Her friend, Laury Sacks, a 46-year old actress/playwright and mom, for no apparent reason starts losing her language, and shows signs of emotional and behavioral changes. This documentary shares Laury’s experience with FTD.
‘Looks Like Laury, Sounds Like Laury…’ premieres March 10th at 8pm on the WORLD CHANNEL (the attached flyer above should lead you to station in your area or follow the instructions below.) It is part of the PBS series called America ReFramed that broadcasts personal journeys of individuals who have a story of unusual interest…
I got the opportunity to ask Connie some questions about the film and its effects on her life:
J: How did the process of filming the documentary make you feel about your own health and state of mind?
C: Terrified, neurotic, anxious. I felt like I couldn’t remember anything…words constantly at the tip of my tongue and unreachable. As Laury deteriorated, my anxiety increased.
J: What did you learn from watching Laury deteriorate?
C: I learned that the essence of a human being cannot be erased by dementia. The core of a person stands strong.
J: What was Laury’s best coping mechanism?
C: Being the diva in her own film. Making this film about Laury kept her engaged, stimulated and surrounded by friends. Keeping Laury as a participant in her own life!
J: What does FTD do to a family and children?
C: Brings them closer and makes them deeper human beings. Gives them an empathy…a deeper way of looking at the world. It also makes them (as children) embarrassed and self-sufficient. Embarrassed that their mother is acting so ridiculous and self-sufficient as she is not there to care for them.
J: Is there help out there? Where? There’s no cure so is it better not to know what your future holds seeing the disease is devastating and swift in it’s severity?
C: There is help for FTD as the disease becomes more widespread. There is a list of organizations that can be supportive of families going through this disease on our website: www.lookslikelaury.com No, there is no cure, but there are neurologists with great insight and hope.
J: Were there moments too difficult to reveal or even film? Is this a true portrayal of FTD or does it show it in a kinder light?
C: This is a very real portrait of a year in a woman’s life who is disappearing bit by bit. However, we were filmmakers and not her husband or caretaker so we did not see everything that went on in Laury’s day to day. Being with someone for a few hours a day, we can’t possibly know the depth of this disease and the toll it takes on a family. We had decided to stop filming when it became clear Laury was not aware – an old friend of hers told us Laury would not want half the story told but the whole story so we got the cameras rolling again and followed her to a living facility in Connecticut where she lived out the rest of her short life.
To find the channel go to the link: bit.ly/WC_localize
Just plug in your zip code. This will lead you to the channel/station in your area to watch my film. It can be streamed for the month by going to America ReFramed. Also go to our website for all the information and clips trailer/etc.