‘A-list’ actors are breathlessly awaiting confirmation of funding for My Good Side, a feature film produced by an independent production company of the same name. Its goal? TO SAVE LIVES.

My Good Side is about a woman diagnosed with breast cancer who must find the daughter she gave up for adoption before her time runs out.

Although fictional, the movie raises awareness of the reality of breast cancer, emphasising the life-saving importance of early detection and diagnosis.

With a £1 million crowdfunding target, filming is planned to take place in and around St Albans, Hertfordshire in April/May 2022. My Good Side will be shown online initially, in October 2022, followed by screenings at independent cinemas, with the premiere at BAFTA.

Action Time

Sharon Axcell, a former rocket scientist (yes, really!) and project manager, and now the producer of My Good Side, took time out of her hectic schedule to give this interview.

She says: ‘The crowdfunding route is a great way of raising awareness of the film’s underlying message. We’ve already had some fantastic pledges from supporters, which gives them access to an array of benefits including director’s screenings. They can even pay to appear in the movie. But we have a long way to go until we hit our target — early support is essential!’

 

So many are discovering this disease too late. Let’s support this worthy cause. Let’s make a difference and raise awareness on all levels.

You’ve got 11 days…

The KICKSTARTER campaign ends on 15 February at 8 p.m.

 

My Good Side fundraiser

Sharon, tell us where it all began.

Reaching my forties, breast cancer suddenly seemed very prevalent, with so many of my friends, and friends of friends, being diagnosed. Yet I still forget to check for cysts, lumps… All the things we’re supposed to do to ensure we’re not falling foul of the disease.

In 2018, with the devastating news of yet another friend’s diagnosis — and then another’s death in 2019 — I suddenly felt helpless.

There are so many things we take for granted, such as power, preservatives, convenience foods that potentially have an impact on the prevalence of this disease and others. I suspect we, the human race, are becoming more susceptible. And we don’t even know it. We must become more aware. We must take action by checking our health regularly.

I originally wrote My Good Side in order to portray this message in a way that was non-clinical and informational, but designed to be engaging, to touch people’s hearts and minds. People tend to take more action when they feel compelled to do something — make a difference — rather than just follow a rationalised instruction.

breast scan

YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Writers and Producers

How did My Good Side progress from there? 

The project was then developed by a team of us, all of whom attended a screenwriters’ ‘boot camp’ in 2018. We discovered that 90% of the attendees were affected either directly or indirectly by breast cancer. The day after the course ended, one of our team revealed she had also been diagnosed with the disease. In her words, ‘You couldn’t make this up!’

This encouraged us to make the film and reach as many people as possible. Through the power of screen drama, we’re aiming to encourage women (and men) to self-examine and get screened regularly — all of which will increase the likelihood of those affected surviving breast cancer. With 1 in 8 women diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime, and 11,500 people dying of breast cancer every year, this film is intended to have a huge impact and reach a large audience, with the aim of compelling viewers to take prompt action.

Now I know you studied aerospace engineering before moving over to project management… When did you embark on your filmmaking journey?

In 2005 I attended an ‘Unleash the Power Within (UPW)’ self-development workshop with Tony Robbins that kick-started the thought process around ‘What do I really want to do with my life?’ The answer came to me: I wanted to be a writer–director!

Following that, I quit my job and went to L.A. to train for a year with the best. What a ride! But the economic crash in 2008 forced the industry to go ‘on hold’; and so, to ensure survival, I reverted to my original training of Project Management.

Since then I’ve been slowly returning to the film industry, finding it challenging to gain a real foothold, as so many in our industry do. I focused on screenwriting while my family was young, and now I’m moving back into directing with two feature films on the cards to shoot this year.

DoP
DoP

Now I know you studied aerospace engineering before moving over to project management… When did you embark on your filmmaking journey?

In 2005 I attended an ‘Unleash the Power Within (UPW)’ self-development workshop with Tony Robbins that kick-started the thought process around ‘What do I really want to do with my life?’ The answer came to me: I wanted to be a writer–director!

Following that, I quit my job and went to L.A. to train for a year with the best. What a ride! But the economic crash in 2008 forced the industry to go ‘on hold’; and so, to ensure survival, I reverted to my original training of Project Management.

Since then I’ve been slowly returning to the film industry, finding it challenging to gain a real foothold, as so many in our industry do. I focused on screenwriting while my family was young, and now I’m moving back into directing with two feature films on the cards to shoot this year.

camerawork

How did COVID-19 affect the movie’s pre-production timeline?

We actually launched our original crowdfunding campaign in 2020. Two days later, the first UK lockdown was issued.

We decided to pull the campaign at that time and I ended up working for the NHS, recruiting nurses and other health workers from other industries to help on the frontline. So the movie had to take a back seat for a while. 

The pandemic essentially delayed the movie for two years. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing! It gave us a chance to revisit the script — again. And now it’s even better than before. In addition, the experience gained through the second film I’m directing has been employed on My Good Side, and we’re much further ahead than we were last time.

Do any highlights come to mind?

My biggest highlight is working with my writing team. I devised a way in which we could all continue learning while on the job, with me in the lead and the others following a structured rewriting process I devised. It was entertaining and fun — certainly the best and most fun part of the process to date. 

When we filmed the promo video, just before the first lockdown, it was so nice to be together, working towards something as a team. The socially distant working hasn’t changed that, although we are an international group. But we’ve been sharing each others’ highs and lows throughout the process. It’s a great team!

teamwork
teamwork

Do any highlights come to mind?

My biggest highlight is working with my writing team. I devised a way in which we could all continue learning while on the job, with me in the lead and the others following a structured rewriting process I devised. It was entertaining and fun — certainly the best and most fun part of the process to date. 

When we filmed the promo video, just before the first lockdown, it was so nice to be together, working towards something as a team. The socially distant working hasn’t changed that, although we are an international group. But we’ve been sharing each others’ highs and lows throughout the process. It’s a great team!

diagnosis

Any lightbulb moments during the writing of the screenplay?

The main lightbulb moment came from honing in on what we were trying to say. The movie could easily expand to a TV series with all the character development we did and the storylines that evolved from the core story. But we needed to make sure we were getting our core points across.

The scariest moment came immediately after our first meeting, when one of our team revealed she had just been diagnosed with the disease. That was the moment we knew we had to make this movie.

 

What’s been your biggest disappointment so far?  

The delay in people donating to the Kickstarter campaign. People verbally promise they’ll support us, but inevitably wait until later in the campaign. Whereas an earlier contribution would help us no end.

Best nugget of advice you’ve been given?

That’s a tricky one, because the best advice may also turn out to be the worst!

The advice was: Just start. And it made such a difference. Starting enabled conversations which then brought people on board with the project, even without a guarantee of it getting off the ground successfully. Or the promise of payment (immediately, at least).

Where it might turn out to be the ‘worst’ advice is where the plan we devised for fundraising may not be enough. Even with the thousands we expect to reach, there are still so many things that have to go our way, including the timing, the level of interest from the public, and the competition with other news going on. But we still feel good about doing, making progress. And with the universe at our backs, who knows what can happen? It’s amazing who steps up to help out!

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring filmmakers?

Get clear on your story. Enlist the help of a professional screenwriter. It won’t go anywhere without it, because that’s the thing that makes the project. (But then I would say that — I’m a screenwriter!)

Use the Nudge Method

breast cancer awareness
breast cancer awareness

Best nugget of advice you’ve been given?

That’s a tricky one, because the best advice may also turn out to be the worst!

The advice was: Just start. And it made such a difference. Starting enabled conversations which then brought people on board with the project, even without a guarantee of it getting off the ground successfully. Or the promise of payment (immediately, at least).

Where it might turn out to be the ‘worst’ advice is where the plan we devised for fundraising may not be enough. Even with the thousands we expect to reach, there are still so many things that have to go our way, including the timing, the level of interest from the public, and the competition with other news going on. But we still feel good about doing, making progress. And with the universe at our backs, who knows what can happen? It’s amazing who steps up to help out!

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring filmmakers?

Get clear on your story. Enlist the help of a professional screenwriter. It won’t go anywhere without it, because that’s the thing that makes the project. (But then I would say that — I’m a screenwriter!)

Use the Nudge Method

women unite

What would you have done differently?

Used the seed funding we managed to obtain in a different way: we would have purchased a quality PR/marketing service to help with the fundraising; got the professionals to help out. But we can still do this again. We’re learning from our mistakes, and we may achieve our fundraising goals yet! 

What was your steepest learning curve?

Fundraising — as a producer. It’s interesting…. I’ve been working as a project manager for 25+ years. Hence I can deliver (produce) projects easily. And I can write and direct. But enticing people to invest is a totally different talent. I still have so much to learn. And with the industry changing so quickly, inevitably it feels like two steps forward, one step back. 

Keep on keeping on’ is so important. And as film producer Eric Fellner suggests: use the nudge method. (This is where you nudge each project forward just a tiny bit each day until one finally takes.) I find it difficult to work that way: I’m very much a ‘Do it now!’ kinda person. Forage the energy and get it done. So that’s been a challenge, too!

Movie Premiere
Movie Premiere

What was your steepest learning curve?

Fundraising — as a producer. It’s interesting…. I’ve been working as a project manager for 25+ years. Hence I can deliver (produce) projects easily. And I can write and direct. But enticing people to invest is a totally different talent. I still have so much to learn. And with the industry changing so quickly, inevitably it feels like two steps forward, one step back. 

Keep on keeping on’ is so important. And as film producer Eric Fellner suggests: use the nudge method. (This is where you nudge each project forward just a tiny bit each day until one finally takes.) I find it difficult to work that way: I’m very much a ‘Do it now!’ kinda person. Forage the energy and get it done. So that’s been a challenge, too!

typed words

Words of wisdom for anyone struggling with that same aspect? 

When it comes to crowdfunding, don’t start until you already have 60% of your funds verbally committed.

Be clear and strong in your pitch. Why you’re doing it. You will find people who want to get involved. Just keep on keeping on. And do it in volumes, with urgent intent. It makes a difference. 

What are your hopes for My Good Side ?

Our intention is that many thousands of people will see the movie and be motivated to take action in the form of self-checking and screening for breast cancer. This will, in turn, save lives through earlier detection and diagnosis.

What’s interesting is the number of men who are supporting us, keen for their partners to be safe.

cancer check
cancer check

What are your hopes for My Good Side ?

Our intention is that many thousands of people will see the movie and be motivated to take action in the form of self-checking and screening for breast cancer. This will, in turn, save lives through earlier detection and diagnosis.

What’s interesting is the number of men who are supporting us, keen for their partners to be safe.

Call To Action

How does the Kickstarter campaign fit into this plan? 

Kickstarter helps spread the word earlier, as part of our marketing campaign, with its exposure. Each person will effectively pre-purchase a copy of the movie as well as, we hope, talk about their involvement and share on social media. It means that we will achieve our distribution targets a lot quicker and more easily, without large sums of money being given to other distribution companies when it could go to better use.

People and businesses can support the project by donating to the crowdfunding campaign or by sponsoring film production elements such as locations and equipment.

 

Sharon, thank you so much for your time. We wish you & your team all the best with what I believe is an exceptionally worthy cause!

 

READERS: Check out My Good Side — and sign up for regular updates. You can also follow the movie’s progress on Facebook and Twitter.  And if you want to make a difference by supporting their Kickstarter Campaign, better hurry. It ends on 15 February!

For further information and to arrange interviews, please contact Sharon Axcell at:  sharon.axcell@mygoodside.org  or on tel: +44 7808 078395.

 

By the way, I’d love to hear from you: Do you check your breasts regularly? If not, what’s stopping you? Fear? Can’t be bothered? No judgement here. I just really want to know! Add your comments below.

Tweetable TAKEAWAYS:

MAKING A DIFFERENCE IS EASIER THAN YOU THINK.

JUST START. THE NUDGE METHOD WILL GET YOU THERE.

CHECK YOUR BREASTS! IT COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE.

KEEP ON KEEPING ON.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TRY & TRIUMPH… IS JUST A LITTLE UMPH!

 

FYI…

I don’t receive any reward/commission for promoting any of the people, businesses or charities on my blog. I just want to inspire & motivate as many people as possible to fulfil their purpose & potential.

 

If any other key points stood out for you, or you just want to let me know what you thought about this interview, feel free to comment below.

NEXT WEEK on The Hopeaholic blog. . .

A life-changing Sanctuary for the Homeless…

Inspiration. Motivation. Hope. You’ll find it all here.

If you subscribe to my weekly news blurb (it’s brief, honest!) you’ll be in the know. wink

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