What is “The Astronaut’s Secret”?

“The Astronaut’s Secret” will be a 1 hour documentary about the life of Astronaut Rich Clifford. It will uncover how Rich and NASA kept his Parkinson’s disease a secret for 17 years, explore the impact of the end of the Shuttle Program on Rich’s life, and follow him as he speaks nationwide about Parkinson’s disease and inspires other with his positive message that ‘the sky is the limit’ as to what can be accomplished with the right attitude and determination.

Why are you doing this project?

This project came to me by way of my father, Dr. Joseph Jankovic. He’s the neurologist who diagnosed Rich in 1994 and has been crucial in Rich’s decision to go public about his disease and his story.

My interest in Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders was peaked by discussions with my father.  I knew I wanted to explore the use of film in developing awareness and telling the stories of patients and their struggle with their diseases and overcoming the stigma and pursuing dreams and goals.  To this end I followed my passion for film and studied documentary filmmaking at The University of Colorado at Boulder. 

Growing up in Houston, TX, NASA Astronauts were always considered the best of the best. So when I heard about Rich’s story I knew I had to go after it. I contacted Rich and went to dinner with him and his wife, Nancy. That night I told Rich what I wanted to do, he took a look at Nancy, looked back at me, and said, “You’re the man for the job.” And we were off and running

Where will I be able to see this?

It is my hope that this film will be selected for film festivals worldwide and will be screened on your local PBS Station (a letter of interest has already been received). And then finally the film will be made available in DVD/Blu-Ray and Digital Download.

The Overall Purpose of the Film?

Rich’s story will serve as inspiration to all the people out there that have been affected in one way or another by Parkinson’s. It is my hope that Rich will be seen along side Muhammad Ali and Michael J. Fox as a great spokesperson for Parkinson’s Awareness.

If you have any other questions

Contact Zach@CutToCreate.com

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