Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Extra Special Thank You!

Dear Fabulous Forms Of Identification Friends:


We want to extend a HUGE and HEARTFELT thank you to every single one of you for backing this project. We exceeded our fundraising goal by our deadline and are thrilled to report that we just submitted the work-in-progress version to our first festival!! With the support that you've provided we will be able to finish the film with panache!

For those of you who would like to receive a receipt for your charitable donation from our fiscal sponsor to use for tax purposes, please send us a message with your address and full name.

This successful campaign has added great joy to our holiday season and is expanding our vision for 2011. We couldn't have done it without you, and you will be in all of our year end celebrations.

In the spirit of art and creativity, we wish you all the best and will keep you posted with news about our upcoming screenings.

Kristin and Jessica

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Transform - Create - Inspire!

We have had such an amazing response of support for this project, especially from those who can relate to the struggle of loss brought on by a chronic illness.

Here is what some people are saying:

"I think there's something very magical about going beyond words to the more holistic realm - the truest images come to us almost like a dream - I believe I started the process [of imagery] by painting my feelings and getting the bleck down on paper - then began to search for a more positive image of myself and that's when the bird happened. I put it up on the wall of the room I was staying in - it was obvious to everyone it was like my totem image - that was in 1993 - it took 17 years before that bird could fly, so to speak."

"I am an artist whose Lyme, finally diagnosed in 2007, terminated the identity I had forged over 35 years of making and exhibiting my art. We are explorers of an unknown and unwelcome new existence in which there is no certainty, no prospects for a solution, no clear way of being, just like our lives before we were taken ill, but without the illusions... The only thing we know for sure is that the people we were before Lyme are now gone forever, just as much as our first date. The gift here is to lose all that we thought we were, leaving us as the naked observer, perhaps gaining greater access to the "God-flow" you reference in your writing."

"I just finished reading your story and am in tears. I too have had severe chronic Lyme symptoms for the last 6 years. I used to be an athlete, and have essentially gone through the exact same thing. Your words were touching. I just wanted to thank you for sharing your story. What you are doing is truly inspirational. Keep fighting. I hope your life gets easier."

"What a performance!! You are both dancer and poet. In my youth I did modern dance for a few years. It altered the way I see and feel the world forever. I wish my teacher, who was once a student of an Isadora Duncan protégé and who also taught English, were still alive to see your work. It is wonderful and a spectacular form through which to speak out for all of us. You have inspired me to start walking regularly as that is when I am most reminded not to feel my body as my enemy but as my vessel. Kinesthetically yours."

If you know of anyone else who may be inspired by the story and our film, please pass on the film and Kickstarter information to them. We have NINE MORE HOURS to continue receiving Kickstarter donations.


We are eternally grateful to all of you who have supported our efforts and this project so far – we literally couldn’t finish it and fulfill our dream without you.

Thanks again and we can’t wait to see you at our screening next year!

With warmth and gratitude,
Jessica and Kristin

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tibetan Buddhist Wisdom

Recently we've connected with a few other artists with Lyme as a result of our fundraising and consciousness raising efforts around our film. One man inflicted with Lyme sent us these wise words today which seem more than fitting for our project and I thought they belonged here on this blog.

What is our life but a dance of transient forms? Isn’t everything always changing? Doesn’t everything we have done in the past seem like a dream now? The friends we grew up with, the childhood haunts, those views and opinions we once held with such single-minded passion: We have left them all behind.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Updated Junkyard Scene

Thanks for following our filmmaking process! We've updated the whole film, including The Junkyard Scene with a few color and sound effects. By end of December 2010, our effects artist will have cleaned up the remaining scenes and our film will be COMPLETE.

Let us know what you think about this new clip.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Message from Co-Creator Jessica Ingersoll-Cope

Throughout the making of this film I have been reticent to talk much about my illness because I wanted the focus of the project to be about the life and identity altering effect of profound loss – any loss – something that everyone experiences at one point or another. But I’m realizing that my specific story about my specific illness is relevant and maybe even helpful. And people always ask about it anyway.

In October of 2003 I was dancing hard and reveling in the fact that I was living my passion. I was excited about opportunity and life and felt strong, resilient, independent, empowered, agile, enduring, physically precise and enchanted. I couldn’t imagine it any other way - until it all collapsed suddenly. It started with severe panic attacks and then prolonged anxiety and profound fatigue. Life as I knew it and the single most important aspect of it stopped – no more dancing or exercise of any kind for over a year. Many doctors’ appointments and vaguely comforting (though inaccurate) “diagnosis” and antidepressants ensued. I got somewhat better and started taking dance classes again, but would still experience sudden collapses of energy – like my puppet strings were suddenly cut. Something was still very wrong. So much grief, consternation and confusion (“it is not just depression or delusion or a lack of will power”) that I wanted to scream “something is REALLY wrong!” Feelings of hopelessness, inadequacy and failure began creeping in and taking a stronghold where there was once confidence and calm.

But I maintained what looked like a normal, productive life for a while, still working full time. And then I got worse – a lot worse – and stopped working. I knew that I had to figure this thing out. Woozy spells, neuropathic pain and pressure in my face, mouth and throat, disabling headaches, “inner” trembling and weakness, circulation problems, continuing profound, deep fatigue and panic attacks that would take over my whole body. The worst part was the unpredictability of the symptomatic spells, making some days manageable and almost normal, and other days hell. I had always thought of myself as an extremely reliable person.

After a lot of researching and more doctors’ appointments, I finally found a diagnosis that seemed accurate: Lyme Disease. But what did that mean and what would happen next? Having an accurate diagnosis is a crucial first step, but it was only the beginning of what has been a very long and hard road. This discovery incited a whole new wave of some hope mixed with more loss and devastation. Was getting better really possible, or was I going to just limp along living a half life and die early? Was it possible to effectively treat a serious infection that had gone undiagnosed for two years? How would I be able to pay for any of the costly treatments? Would I ever be able to dance and move – an experience I considered a sacred savior - and soar like I had before? Would anybody love and want me now that I was so limited, damaged and unreliable? Would I be able to have spontaneous, carefree good ol’ fun or would I always have to be cautious and say “Sorry, I can’t do that?” Would I ever be able to work a normal job again, get a master’s degree, have kids, travel, be adventurous, be accomplished? The questions went on and on.

Lyme disease can be acute or chronic but the term “Chronic Lyme Disease” is extremely controversial and is refuted by much of mainstream medicine. Just another maddening political aspect to an already maddening experience of illness and self-doubt. However, those who have it know how impactful, real and complex it is. Once Lyme is chronic, it is no longer a single stealth bacterial infection, but a constellation of infections, hormonal imbalances, toxicities, autoimmune reactions, neurological problems, etc. Basically, your whole body goes out of whack, though it affects every person differently. It is so overwhelming that it can be hard to know what to treat first, and you often feel much worse before you feel any better. The process of treatment is truly like peeling away the layers of an onion and can take many years. It requires incredible persistence and patience and a strong network of loving supporters - something not everyone is lucky enough to have. Losing your faith entirely and only glimpsing the fleeting light of redemption is a cycle that is guaranteed. It requires that you be a warrior.

Here it is almost 2011 and I still supposedly have Lyme Disease and my life looks very different than it did eight years ago. I’ve been through many ups and downs, gains and losses, steps forward and steps backward. I have lost relationships and friendships. I had to move back in with my parents in order to afford my treatment. I have been through dozens of natural treatment protocols and 14 months of intravenous antibiotics. I have been in deep dark holes.

But now I am happy to say that I am doing relatively well. I live in my own apartment and am completing graduate school. I am working on creative projects like this film. I spend time with my loving friends and family. I am learning Argentine Tango and have become reacquainted with the joyful experience of God-flow that dance brings to me. And I feel gratitude for this difficult and wonderful life.

I am still somewhat fragile and operate at about 70%. If I get less than seven hours of sleep I cannot function properly. My threshold for over-stimulating environments, stress and crisis is much lower. Anxiety is never too far away. I don’t have the energy or stamina to go hiking or take long bike rides. For exercise, I go for short walks, short bike rides, and jump on my mini-trampoline instead. I still get bad headaches. Escalators, elevators and airplanes make me feel woozy. I can’t tolerate alcohol or other mood altering substances. I have food allergies and digestive ails. I still get waves of profound unable-to-walk–up-the-stairs fatigue. I feel neuropathic tingles in my mouth and pressure in my face. Despite all this, I easily pass as perfectly healthy. I am far from symptom free, but I am beginning to trust myself and my body again.

Although I sometimes introduce myself as a “former” dancer, I still feel attached to my archetypal identity of A Dancer. Will I ever be OK with NOT labeling myself with that title at all? Is being a kinesthetically aware mover part of my very essence, inseparable from my very basic identity? I’m not sure, but more importantly, I have truly come to know myself – my authentic, deeply inward self – better than I ever have. I can feel a quiet surrendering in the places that have been wounded and have gained back some confidence in my self-worth and ability. Crisis and loss often do just that – force us to grow in ways we wouldn’t have otherwise. That is what this film, Forms of Identification, is about - facing crisis and losing everything outward that we comfortably grasp onto, compelling us to plunge deep into the mystery, mayhem and majesty of our genuine, pure self.

- by Dancer/Choreographer Jessica Ingersoll-Cope

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Only $1,095 to go and 13 more days!

We are feeling and loving the momentum of our Kickstarter funding campaign! Many thanks to our new and continued supporters:

John Rogers
Michael Fogelman
Stephani Regalia
Greg Haldan
Amy Stock
Brooke Grabrian
Laura Didier
Jim Martinez
Sheila McCann
Diana Ingersoll-Cope

It's so amazing to have the support of our community, friends and family who believe in the transformative powers of art and creativity!

We are on track to finishing and by the end of December, our fundraising efforts will not only be complete, but validated with the completion of our film and entering it into our first film festivals.

Please stay tuned for details about a private screening party held at a venue here in San Francisco for all our supporters.