“…people are dying waiting for a transplant when perfect organs end up being wasted”
Meet Richard Todd, the renowned director of the incredibly powerful feature documentary “Dying to Live”.
Diving deep into the world of organ and tissue donation “Dying to Live” reveals how Australia has fallen behind in rates of donation, with many patients caused immense suffering as they await new organs, while highlighting the inspirational stories of those who have given the ultimate gift of life.
Richards passion for complex and difficult concepts has allowed him to produce captivating and emotional documentaries, gaining him recognition for films such as “Frackman” which won Best Film and Best Environmental Film at BBFF2015.
We recently had the chance to interview Richard on his latest documentary “Dying to Live” here is what we learned.
Firstly, can you tell us a bit more about the film?
It’s about the waiting game of living on the organ transplant list and also how it affects not only recipient families but the donor families also. We get in pretty deep and personal as you can imagine and trying to work out why people are dying waiting for a transplant when perfect organs end up being wasted???
What was your biggest inspiration to make this film/how did you get involved or attached to the project?
I heard Zaidee turner’s story. A 7-year-old who suddenly tragically died and donated her organs to change the lives of 7 people. My daughter was 7 at the time and I couldn’t imagine what her parents, Al and Kim Turner and her brother Jazz went through. I felt instantly compelled to tell the story emotionally.
I then found out that even though 86% of Aussies say they would donate only 36.5% are registered, as well as 50% of people saying they wouldn’t give permission for their loved one’s organs to be donated if they didn’t know there wishes.
As a filmmaker there are many ups and downs in the process, what was your absolute favourite part of producing this film?
Watching the recipients fulfill their bucket list dreams once they successfully had transplants and weathered the storm of rejection and recovery.
What does a film festival like the Byron Bay Film Festival mean to you and your work?
I had the pleasure of showing Frackman at BBFF 2015. It’s the coolest town and the coolest festival. Jaimee, Ozzie, and volunteers just make you feel like part of the tribe. It’s so Northern Rivers. It’s really God’s country and as a rural festival it has to be the best in Australia, and it’s such an honor to be invited and receive a BBFF laurel for the film.
Byron Bay Film Festival showcases an array of entertaining, inspiring and thought-provoking films. Do you feel that your film helps people ‘open their aperture’? And if so how?
For sure. The motivation for the film is to evoke change. The stakes are high, and emotion is inherent- I hope that people feel compelled to sign up and have the chat once they see the lives of our stars.
What was the most challenging part of the filmmaking process?
Carrying the emotion and watching the waiting game- reassessing my first world problems vs their real problems of life and death and not knowing. It really makes an argument with Telstra seem quite petty.
If some or all of the team is coming to the festival at Byron Bay. Who is coming and what are you looking forward to?
Holly (lung transplant recipient) lives in Brunswick now so she’s going to be there in we hope. Tony (liver transplant recipient) from Brisbane will come down with his partner Peter.
My co-producer will be there Ben McNeil from Brisbane and Felicity Blake our impact producer. Woody (kidney recipient) from near my hometown of Margaret River is also threatening to jump on a plane, as is Kate (waiting on a pancreas and kidney) from Mt Martha in Victoria and her family!!
If you are based in the northern rivers what brought you to the region? In terms of filmmaking is there something distinct about the region that feeds into your work? Community? Landscape? Creative contacts?
I used to live on Skinners Shoot Rd and it’s the surf, the landscape, the community but most of all the thinking. I wish the Politicians thought like the Northern River crew-all our problems would fall away.
Anything interesting or unique about the filmmaking process for this film, any hiccups along the way, any happy coincidences that changed the film’s direction?
Omg, where do I start! I encourage everyone to come to the Q and A and hear about all the coincidences or the ‘Zaidee effect’ as Al Turner calls it, i.e. her pulling the strings.
Is anything else you would like to share?
I encourage everyone to come along and cry then laugh then sign up and have the chat.
Catch a screening of “Dying to Live” at Brunswick Picture House Sunday 14th or at the Byron Bay Community Centre Sunday 21st, both Screenings will be followed up by a Q & A with Richard Todd and crew.