Supercells Documentary | Wrangling With Distribution

by Alex Roberts
(Barcelona Spain)

Hi, to whom it may concern, I had agreed to work with a German DP to help him and his crew film a documentary on a pioneer in Regenerative Medicine, his scheduling alone is insane as he flies the world saving lives.

Because of who the DP had done some indie work for and had a limited budget of 50k€ from the well respected Arte network from Germany we had many conversations about the timing, getting the right patient to agree to go on camera etc, then the cooperation of the hospital admin, doctors nurses etc etc.

Dr Paolo Macchiarini who is my partner in a foundation we specifically set up for Regenerative Medicine to support the patients met with financial difficulties including procedures not approved by the FDA in the USA which can take years when the patients sometimes have only a few weeks we knew this would grow beyond anybody's expectations. Well it has and there is no stopping in sight.

We have A list music industry and Film industry people willing to support us upon the right opportunity as long as it is an American patient to start with (understandably so).

The bottom line is after the German DP begged for a schedule and even had his assist DP who was even more relentless, (BTW I admire tenacious professionals as long as they respect our schedules) not the case. Well we went for it anyway. Upon the condition that myself and Dr Macchiarini had final cut to keep it true and real, after all we are dealing with peoples lives period.

Several weeks go by and we have a trailer, 3 months go by and we have an edited film of great quality, operating scenes, as real as t gets etc. The DP sends me the trailer link and everyone is excited, then comes the film telling me how pleased he is but must find distribution even though Arte the German Network agreed to air on prime time, which extends to France and ABC world news tonight with Diane Sawyer in Australia to start.

I asked the DP where our credits were and what happened to final cut. Well because they were so limited on budget if they mentioned our foundation in the credits it could bring the DP's indie film company problems because it would look like they took money from our foundation?

Insulted was the first thought, then his boss offered to add our foundation to their webpage and do a live chat, sure like a world renown doctor has time for phone calls etc.

The bottom line is I said first and last time. I posted the full length film on our site, Facebook, LinkedIn etc etc and people were absolutely blown away. Doctors from all over the world, patients and their families, it was fantastic.

Until the German DP said he has a very serious problem because he sold the film without our knowledge or approval to a Dutch distributor and was threatened legal action if the film was not removed.

My tech guy had the entire web cleared before the next whiny email. Of course the German DP started to take all of the credit, doctors were apologising to him etc etc.

I stepped up to the plate to defend my tech guy saying I told him to upload the film, an honest mistake it could have been yet there was never any mention of not to upload the film? There was no mention of credits, final cut, you name it I am sure you have heard it all.

I come from a very long music background in handling business affairs for a select group of International artists and major labels, I do have many great film connections.

I had my dear friend and partner Jimmy Stewart watch the film and talk his father-in-law into watching it, Jon Landau ( James Cameron's go-to DP). They both loved it and Jon said Alex, I want to do something real and different, getting patients to agree, worlds best doctors in this amazing new field and make a real movie with real heartwarming stories, it is the future and audiences of all ages will be blown away marketed the right way.

I agree. Jimmy is already writing a treatment and the world needs to know countless patients with inoperable diseases now have options to live a better quality of life. This is so cool.

So in the meantime I was thinking of just reposting the whole video only with a statement leading to...You have seen nothing yet, coming Summer 2014, the real heroes (doctors) and the courageous patients.

Any thoughts?

This is medical miracles gentlemen, I have witnessed it first hand in the operating room.

Getting nominated for a Grammy is awesome, being involved in saving someones life is the ultimate. I look forward to your feed back, maybe involvement?

Thanks for reading Alex...

Comments for Supercells Documentary | Wrangling With Distribution

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Jan 28, 2024
by: Site Visitor

I have zero trust in the medical field and expect them to lie to us if it means they profit from it. But I expect better from someone making a documentary. A documentary should exist to show the truth....whatever that truth is. People actually value documentaries because there SHOULD be integrity involved in making it. I so wanted to give you guys the benefit of the doubt. I wanted to think you were just idiots that took him at his word without following up. But seeing the email exchange with Julia and knowing that you were fully aware that it DID NOT WORK, I have to say you're complicit. And you're maybe the worst part of it. There will always be sociopaths. There will always be money-grubbing heads of companies. They suck. But the people who are out here being their voices, their advocates--telling the general public that this person is a miracle worker when they know damn well he isn't--they are the worst people. My immediate assumption is that you went ahead and released it because you had a f*** ton of money put into it and you didn't want to lose it. The best case scenario is that you thought it really could work, and it just didn't for Julia. But that's a luxury that documentarians DO NOT GET. You do not get to operate on hope. Sorry. That's the choice you made. You operate on facts, and facts alone. So if you need to release it, you release it, and you scroll text at the end of the film, after everyone's thinking it's okay, that it did not work and Julia is dead now. And because you did not do that, other people are dead now too. Do better.

Jan 07, 2024
Where is the outcry?
by: Russ

Not only were you duped, you gave the audacity to defend your decision to air it after hearing from the patient how poorly she was doing but took the doctors "word" instead of investigating yourselves!!

Dec 07, 2023
Producers involved with the film should be in jail
by: Site Visitor


Dec 03, 2023
What about pieces of the film that show obvious problems with the plastic trachea
by: Site Visitor

So many people both medical and non-medical failed sweet Yulia. The editor of the film chose not to sound the alarm on the moments of the film that showed them placing a faulty plastic trachea and then watching it collapsing on the little camera aimed down her throat. She even wrote back to the producers saying her operation was a horrific failure and yet the film was given a positive spin. Many more could have died and all the those doctors in the room on film and producers would have been complicit.

Nov 30, 2023
by: Anonymous

that man is a criminal and everyone involved with this documentary, putting it out there after knowing what happened to Julia, should be ashamed of themselves and held accountable

Nov 29, 2023
shame on you!
by: Johan

you guys were so duped and conned by this charlatan imposter of a germans really have to let go of your submissive response to titles, like doctor, professor, scientist, we all know you have a title after leaving kindergarten, they mean nothing!

Nov 29, 2023
well ...
by: Ingo

That aged like milk as the patients didn't age at all. What a shitshow

Jan 26, 2020
by: Swedish

a medical miracle huh? All his patients died and he is in jail. What happened to your critical thinking?

Mar 07, 2013
by: Alex Roberts

Well this certainly wasn't expected as I wrote this information to share some experience more so out of frustration in being asked to remove the video after all of the fantastic reviews we received.

To clarify some questions DP stands for Director Producer, not director of photography. For the record Wolfram Giese has an outstanding reputation in his field, not everyone will see I to eye and agree on everything posted. The full length documentary was posted on line when I honestly thought we we had the green light to do so. I take responsibility for doing this, immediately I contacted our technical guy Ricardo and within 5 minutes the documentary was completely removed from the website obviously including all social network sites. This is how serious we take our work and are very proud of the level of information we share with the patients who are looking for help wherever it can give them hope regenerative medicine gives countless patients something to believe in, and that alone is a healing process that is priceless for the patients including their families supporting them and hope is sometimes all it takes when faced with the unimaginable.

The bottom line here is I posted this so people could get a better understanding for what they must go through when faced with such unexpected medical issues.

Mar 01, 2013
by: Scott

Did you sign an agreement with the DP at any point? What do you mean by DP? (Director of Photography?) It's very important to have signed agreements in place for just this reason. Why do you feel he has the right to tell you not to place the video on your website? Do you have the right to tell him to stop selling your video? In the end, it sounds like lawyers may need to get involved.

Mar 01, 2013
contracts and lawyers
by: Desktop Documentaries

Thanks Alex. Sounds like quite the wild ride!
You may want to consider getting advice from an entertainment lawyer.

Not sure it's the best idea to re-post the documentary after the DP got upset with you the first time. Again, a lawyer can guide you better on that. Did you have a contract with the DP?

I'd also like to recommend a fantastic resource that deals exactly with this kind of issue. Check it out here:

We wish you much luck and success!

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