Filmmaker father puts a type 1 diagnosis on the big screen
It's the wee-hours routine of many parents of children with type 1 diabetes: getting up every night, sometimes more than once, to test the blood glucose of their sleeping child. They listen to their youngster's breathing and wish his or her life could be easier. For filmmaker Dan Masucci, though, it's not just a nightly ritual—it's also his movie.
When their son Nick was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes three years ago, Dan and Stacy Masucci weren't sure they were prepared to battle the disease for a lifetime. Dan Masucci believes other families feel the same way upon diagnosis, and that was the inspiration for his latest short film: Dx One.
The 20-minute movie, narrated by a father and son, explains the difficulties—and some of the triumphs—in coping with type 1 diabetes. It stars Nick, now 14, as a newly diagnosed boy with type 1, and Benjamin Busch, who played the narcotics officer Colicchio in the HBO series The Wire, as Nick's father. (Nick's 4-year-old brother, James, appears too.)
The film follows a family after diagnosis and expresses the wishes, fears, and day-to-day concerns of father and son. "It seemed like a logical choice for me to tell the story from the father and son's point of view," Dan Masucci says. "I'll never stop worrying—I'll never stop wondering how he's doing. For type 1 parents, it's a constant worry."
Masucci, a member of the American Diabetes Association, reached out to the diabetes online community for help in financing the movie. Using the fund-raising website Kickstarter, he offered to share the script with anyone who wanted to donate before shooting began. Almost everyone who gave wrote back and said, "This could be my life." Masucci says he always wrote back, "It is. And it's my life."
But Masucci makes it clear that the film is not a documentary: Dx One is a dramatic but realistic take on coping with diabetes. "Prior to this, nobody has made a film that centered on diabetes that wasn't a documentary. This is a narrative, a dramatic film," he says. "There've been movies where characters have had diabetes, and it's been grossly misrepresented in those movies. This is, I think, as true to the experience as a film has ever [been]."
Masucci plans to have the film for sale at dxonediabetes.com and in the iTunes store. The movie will also be available for bookings across the country, and he hopes to distribute it to hospitals, which might give copies to families receiving a type 1 diagnosis. People can't always sit down and read a book together in one sitting, he says, but they can watch a 20-minute movie and relate to it.
Actor Busch hopes the movie will reach people and comfort them at a time of uncertainty. After he and Masucci met at a film festival, the two vowed to work together someday. When Masucci called Busch with Dx One a few years later, the actor, a father of two, jumped at the chance to be involved. He says working on the movie educated him about the many aspects of diabetes. He believes audiences will connect with the story. "It depicts tremendous emotional strength, and at the end, of course, [the father is] very clearly hopeful, because love always prevails in a family," Busch says.
The strength of families, especially those facing difficult diagnoses, was a rallying point for the cast and crew of Dx One, but in particular for Nick, who says reliving his diagnosis was easier when it was for a movie. He hopes other kids will see the movie and know they're not alone. "When I was diagnosed, I would have loved to have seen a movie like this," he says. Diabetes is "not as bad as it sounds like. It does get easier and better. It's just a part of life now."
Dan Masucci plans to pass his movie on to those who need it most. "I hope that it's something that the type 1 community will use to remind themselves that they're not alone," he says, "and to help friends and family members who just don't get it [to] understand."