Undetectable: Facilitator Guides

A facilitator’s guide is available for the film “Undetectable.” The guide is designed to help you use this website, other material on the Internet, and the “Undetectable videos for a study of AIDS/HIV infection, prevention and treatment. These material are designed for use in high school classrooms (grades 9-12), although extension suggestions may help you modify them for younger students and/or use at home.

Each lesson plan provides objectives, standards correlations, background information, Web links, procedures, extension suggestions, and assessment recommendations. Each incorporates video clips from the “Undetectable” documentary, though the lessons also function as stand-alone activities.

What critics say about “Life and Death on the A-List”

Wrenching,…wryly humorous and unflinching.
Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times, Critics Choice

Absolutely enthralling.., leaves you breathless at the range and depth with which it tackles the power of the libido, issues of gay self-hatred, and the use of sex to conquer, degrade and compensate for rejection in other areas of life.
Ernest Hardy, LA Weekly, Critics Choice

Brilliant…an indelibly relevant portrait of-and commentary on-our culture’s exaggerated, often destructive emphasis on youth and beauty.
James Baker, POZ

A welcome addition to the growing genre of AIDS on celluloid. Corcoran’s knowing direction captures the plight of what it is to have been young, beautiful and worshipped, then to suddenly find yourself older, not so wiser, battling a not so pleasant disease. A truly absorbing documentary.
Brandon Judell, Critic’s Choice, America Online

LIFE AND DEATH ON THE A-LIST is one of the most vital and moving films to have been provoked by the AIDS epidemic. Its theme is not the disease itself but how illness and mortality make us rethink the body, being human. It pushes buttons we didn’t even know we had; entertains us and forces us to respond with intelligence and imagination. This is the sort of film that stays with you for years to come, that you can’t shake off, or slip away from. It is powerful, resonant, and in the end, it is beautiful.
Michael Bronski, Author of Culture Clash: The Making of Gay Sensibility and other works

Unsettling…Corcoran unflinchingly reveals what ultimately lies beneath a lifestyle based strictly on superficiality…shocking, humorous, macabre, sad and angering…this is real life.
Trenton Straube, HX Magazine

Buy the LIFE AND DEATH ON THE A-LIST DVD

What critics say about “Undetectable”

  • National Broadcast Independent Lens, PBS
  • Official Selection to the Los Angeles Film Festival
  • Shine Award-Best Documentary, LA, CA
  • Best Documentary: Council on Foundations Film and Video Festival
  • International Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Film Festival:
  • Best Documentary Jury Award

“A pungent social mosaic that in slicing across boundaries of sex, class and ethnicity has moments of heartbreaking intimacy… Besides being a powerful human document, the film is a reminder that AIDS miracle drugs are no quick fix and that the end of the epidemic is not in sight.”
Stephen Holden, New York Times

“Eloquent…gripping.”
Jon Matsumoto, Variety

“So moving and powerful because it reminds us how rarely we look into the human face of AIDS..The strength of the film is its simplicity.”
***1/2
Loren King, Boston Globe

Critic’s Choice
John Leonard, New York Magazine

“Poignant..”
Critic’s Choice, Boston Magazine

“Unflinching.”
Les Simpson, Time OUT New York

“Excellent, moving…compelling…unsettling look at the realities faced by those diagnosed as HIV-positive.”
Bob Longino, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Undetectable is without qualification one of the most important films of the year…remarkable.”
Brandon Judell, Popcorn Q

“Powerful, sobering film, a strong reminder that the crisis is anything but over…Indelible portraits.”
David Warner, Philadelphia City Paper

“The pain, spirit, and urgency come through in this reminder that AIDS… is still with us.”
Peter Keough, Boston Phoenix

“Through Corcoran’s compassionate lens we watch…an honest, gripping portrayal of the hearts and minds of six people with HIV.”
Sue Rochman, Advocate Magazine

“Important document about the evolution on HIV treatment.”
Folha de Sao Paulo, Brasil

“Unflinching, often surprising and even heartbreaking documentary.”
Lawrence Ferber, Frontiers Magazine

“Powerful…”
Gary Morris, (San Francisco) Bay Area Reporter

“Fine documentary…savvy depiction of the many contradictions of positive living.”
Shana Naomi Krochmal, POZ Magazine

“Corcoran refreshingly documents the changing demographics of AIDS.”
Mark J. Huisman, PlanetOut News

Festival Screenings:

  • Los Angeles Film Festival
  • New Festival, NYC
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
  • Brooklyn Academy of Music
  • Frameline San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
  • OutFest, LA
  • DocSide, San Antonio, Texas
  • MiX Brasil Festival da Diversidade Sexual, Sao Paulo, Brasil +Panel with their nation’s leading infectious disease specialists.
  • Fever In The Archive, Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
  • North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
  • Silverlake Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA
  • Woodstock Film Festival, Woodstock, NY
  • Silver Bear Film Festival, PA
  • Reel Affirmations, Washington, DC
  • OUTONFILM, Atlanta, GA
  • and many others…

Buy the UNDETECTABLE DVD

Press Coverage

Press

press

AIDS on Film: Jay Corcoran

A Scribe Media news segment containing excerpts from Corcoran’s AIDS trilogy: Life and Death on the A-List, Undetectable, and Rock Bottom. Reported and produced by John Mikytuck. TRT: 9:55

Creative at Columbia: Jay Corcoran, Documentary Filmmaker

By Simone Mailman, The Record, Columbia University
Jay Corcoran, assistant director at Columbia Business School’s Career Management Center, isn’t your typical career counselor, dispensing advice and encouragement to ambitious, job-hungry MBA s from behind a desk. You can often find him performing his job in a far more unusual setting—from behind a camera.

Channel Thirteen/WNET Interview on the making of NY Diary and 9/11

Channel Thirteen/WNET, The New York affiliate PBS station, interviews Corcoran on the making of New York Diary, his 9/11 short, broadcast on Reel New York.

LIFE AND DEATH ON THE A-LIST Reviews

Critics Choice: I’ll be your mirror

By Stephen Holden, New York Times
This intimate view of an unrepentant sexual adventurer raises tough questions about personal values, vanity and the emphasis on beauty in the fast lane of New York gay life.

More LIFE AND DEATH ON THE A-LIST reviews, awards, film festivals

UNDETECTABLE Reviews

CRITIC’S CHOICE/Undetectable review

By Stephen Holden, New York Times
It takes enormous courage for a filmmaker to choose a subject as cloaked in denial as the AIDS epidemic in the United States two decades after it burst into public consciousness. But that’s what the documentarian and sometime actor Jay Corcoran has done in his moving and important new film, ”Undetectable,” which examines the lives of six Boston residents taking various life-prolonging AIDS medications.

More UNDETECTABLE reviews, awards, film festivals

ROCK BOTTOM Reviews

Addiction, Magnified

By Stephen Holden, New York Times
“Rock Bottom,” filmed over two and a half years in digital video, is a ground-level examination of the crystal meth epidemic in gay New York. It follows seven men struggling with addiction, showing them high and sober.

Download ROCK BOTTOM press kit.

Crystal Meth Info

Crystal Meth & New York’s LGBT Community

 

What is Crystal Meth?

Methamphetamine, or Crystal Meth, is a powerfully addictive stimulant that has been sweeping through communities across the United States, including New York City’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community – specifically, among gay and bisexual men.

Crystal Meth users are of all races and ages, and they are drawn to the drug for a wide variety of reasons. Many gay and bisexual men use Crystal Meth to lower their social anxiety and to seek intimacy and connection with other gay men. Deep-seated feelings of isolation – often a result of cultural and political intolerance toward the LGBT community – can render gay and bisexual men particularly vulnerable to the drug’s euphoric, liberating effects.

How is Crystal Meth Affecting New York’s LGBT Community?

In a 2006 survey of gay and bisexual men in New York City, approximately one in four indicated the use of Crystal Meth in the period of six months prior to the assessment.1

A previous study estimated this figure to be 14 percent – making New York second only to San Francisco as the United States city with the greatest number of gay and bisexual men who use Crystal Meth.2

How is Crystal Meth Linked to the Transmission of HIV and Other STDs?

Studies show that HIV-positive men are more likely than HIV-negative men to use Crystal Meth.1 Coupled with the fact that Crystal Meth users are more likely than non-users to engage in unsafe sex, the link between Crystal Meth and the transmission of HIV becomes clear.

For HIV-positive users, Crystal Meth can accelerate the progression of HIV to AIDS. The drug interferes with HIV medication and can also make the user forget to take them at all. And because Crystal Meth can be injected, the risk for HIV infection increases not only through unsafe sex, but through needle sharing as well.

Crystal Meth is also associated with the spread of other sexually transmitted diseases among gay and bisexual men, including syphilis, Chlamydia, and gonorrhea. Because of its potent effect on sex drive, Crystal Meth users often have more sexual partners than non-users.2

What are the Long-Term Effects of Crystal Meth Abuse?

Chronic Crystal Meth users often embark on binges that last from a few days to two weeks; the user foregoes food and sleep with constant use of the drug. The behavior associated with such excessive abuse are intense paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and violently out-of-control behavior.

Of course, Crystal Meth affects not only the user, but the friends, family and coworkers of the user, as well. Users have a tendency to withdraw from their social network and isolate themselves from nonusers as their addiction grows. Counseling and support are needed at this level of addiction, which the Center is qualified to provide.

1 Halkitis, P.N., Schilinger. J, Moeller, R.W., Siconolfi, D.E. and Jerome, R.C. (2006) Methamphetamine and poly-drug use among health seeking gay and bisexual men in NYC. New York University Center for Health Identity, Behavior and Prevention Studies, NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (in press).

2 CDC National HIV Behavioral Surveillance Survey, 2004.

Local (NYC) Resources:

Download the Meth Factsheet (PDF). Provided by the The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center

  • CenterCARE
    The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center
    208 West 13th Street, New York City 10011
    212.620.7310
    www.gaycenter.org/Surveys/crystal
  • GMHC Substance Use Counseling & Education (SUCE)
    GMHC Hotline: 1.800.AIDS.NYC (1.800.243.7692)
    www.gmhc.org/programs/suce.html
  • Harlem United Community AIDS Center
    306 Lenox Avenue, 2nd Floor
    New York, NY 10027
    Ph: 212.803.2880 x896
    www.harlemunited.org/
  • New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
    Dial 311 or 1.800.LifeNet
  • Michael Callen-Audre Lorde Community Health Center
    356 West 18th Street, New York City 10011
    212.271.7200
  • New York City Crystal Meth Anonymous
    www.nycma.org

National Resources:

AIDS Information:

Undetectable: People

David
David

David Brudnoy, 57, a prominent Boston broadcaster and talk-show host, was near death from AIDS in 1994 when he gained national attention by revealing both his illness and his homosexuality to a vast radio audience. With the aid of the combination drug therapy, he has dramatically recovered and is now in good health with undetectable viral levels. He published the highly acclaimed memoir, “Life Is Not a Rehearsal.” David died December 9, 2004 from AIDS-related complications. He was 64.

 

 

Belind Dunn
Belind

Belind Dunn died on March 12, 2002, after two failed liver transplants. A mother of two and grandmother of three, she was infected with HIV since 1986. She was an active member in her Baptist church and opted for a more holistic approach to treatment consisting of prayer and green/blue algae. After a diagnosis of Hepatitis C, (infected 30 years ago during the birth of her son) she reluctantly started the drug “cocktail,” but severe side effects and surgery led her to eventually stop the treatment. Her heroic fight against Hepatitis C and HIV was an inspiration to everyone she touched. She is sorely missed.

 

Carol
Carol

Carole, 50, had classic symptoms for HIV for three years but was chronically misdiagnosed for anxiety and other related neurosis. She didn’t fit the stereotype, white, middle-class, married and no drug addiction. Her husband had an affair. Now, she has devoted herself to AIDS education, particularly for women. She and her husband Michael, after a couple of rough years in their marriage they have worked very hard and turned a corner in their relationship. They are more in love and devoted to each other than ever.

 

 

Anibal
Anibal

Anibal, was a recovering heroin addict from Nicaragua who battled HIV, addiction and chronic pain from arthritis. He ended his relationship with his HIV-negative fiance, Caryl Beth to pursue other women who were HIV-positive so he could have unsafe sex and not feel guilty. Due to complications between his addiction and AIDS, he died November 13, 1999.

 

 

Matilda
Matilda

Matilda, 34, from Puerto Rico, is a recovering heroin addict living with her family in a Boston housing project. Her husband, Armando, was hospitalized with AIDS in 1988. Pregnant with Simeon, her fourth child, she tested HIV-positive. Eight years ago her fifth child, Christoba, was born prematurely and HIV-positive. Matilda has been getting good results from combination therapy for almost three years, but experiences considerable pain. Neither her husband nor her son has been able so far to sustain the new medications. In addition to HIV, she and her family struggle with the “ordinary” difficulties of urban poverty.

 

Joe
Joe

Joe, 37, a nuclear medical technician, has been with his partner, Bill, for thirteen years. He tested positive in 1987, while Bill remains negative. Side effects and an unsatisfactory response have compelled Joe to change medications repeatedly. Diagnosed with the dreaded brain disease, PML, in June of 1999, Joe died, November 12, 1999.

Undetectable: Diary

Undetectable, feature documentary by Jay Corcoran

Follow Jay Corcoran’s five-year journey in making of the film “Undetectable.”

Undetectable: The New Face of AIDS4/4/97
After 6 weeks of meeting people that answered my ad I tape my first interview with Peter Urban. In addition to Peter I have selected Matilde Garcia, Belynda Dunn, and John. I want a couple of others. I’m trying to get a white woman. I’ve met a few great white women but they are too scared to go in front of the camera. They are afraid of being ostracized by their families and neighbors in their suburban towns.

4/6/97
Interviewed Matilde Garcia and her children. Chris and Simon rode bikes. Carmen sang a song on a swing. Matilde had the house and herself spotless. She doesn’t stop. What a fighter!

4/27/97
After three shoots with John we decide to call it quits. I can’t beg someone to be in this movie. It has to be a partnership. I felt like he was treating me like an indifferent boyfriend. He was so withholding. No wonder he’s single. I had to coax him for an hour every time we did a shoot. This work is too hard for that kind of shit. After ten minutes of shooting today I shut the camera off and said, “I’m sorry this is wasting my time. You don’t want this and I don’t have the time”. He was shocked. I was elated.

5/9/97
Joe Pennell agrees to be my third subject. He’s really smart and articulate. He’s very normal which is a welcome relief.

5/24/97
Brad, a straight black man becomes my fourth person. He stares at the camera a lot and doesn’t say a whole lot that doesn’t sound like he’s said it one hundred times before. Sometimes that happens with people in recovery. They adopt a language until they can find one of their own. He came highly recommended from a respected doctor. It’s weird how you can feel it’s just not going to work out.

6/1/97
Was introduced to Paul an ex-porn star. He’s really cute but can’t look you in the eye or finish his sentences.

6/19/97
Three shoots with Paul and it’s over. Lovely guy but too far gone.. People keep telling me I need eye candy for the movie to be a hit. I have sworn off on eye candy.

7/24/97
Belynda is going on the Protease tomorrow. I taped her intake with Dr. Rind and went home and filmed her prayer circle.

8/23/97
After 36 hours it finally hits me there is nothing else Id rather be doing than being in Boston recording what I’m recording. Belynda gave a savage interview today about the effects of the protease inhibitors. Shit everywhere. She cut all her braids off. I turned a corner today. There is something here. Not everyone is doing well an no one is saying a word.

9/16/97
Shot Belynda having her gall bladder sucked out. They suited me up in a sterilized white suit that felt like a large paper condom and allowed me to shoot the entire operation. I had allergies and was afraid to make a sound. My jump suit was soaked with snot and sweat. I have such renewed respect for the medical profession. These doctors and their staff are amazing. I am stunned and have nightmares of Belynda’s organs and operation for three consecutive nights.

Belynda before surgery
Belynda before surgery

9/20/97
I told Brad I have enough footage of him for now. I can’t penetrate him.

10/01/97
Carmen was suspended today. She accompanied Matilde and Armando on their doctor visit. Matilde has to translate Armando’s appointment. According to the doctor, he’s taking too much atavan. Matilde is so stressed and is doing way too much. It was amazing watching the doctor go from Armando’s exam room to Matilde’s room and back again. It really brought home the gravity of their situation. No wonder Carmen was suspended.

10/03/97
A white woman agreed to be in the movie. She comes highly recommended. Upon meeting her she is tougher than I imagined. I was hoping for someone softer. We shoot. I like her.

10/06/97
David Brudnoy, the WBZ conservative (libertarian) controversial radio talk show host agrees to be in the film. I didn’t want anymore white gay men but whenever his name came up around white gay men or liberals, people vomited such hateful slurs about him that I had to see what all the fuss was about.

10/07/97
Peter is doing really well. He feels he doesn’t have AIDS. He feels great. His triglycerides are really high and he wants to get on with his photography business and not be identified with having AIDS.

10/9/97
Doris Lessing was on Brudnoy tonight. Met an actual “Angry Young Man.” She swears that none of the AYM knew each other and it was all a invention of the journalists. She said the Queen mother drinks champagne and eats petite fours every day. She would like to do the same.

10/16/97
I can’t think of a better way to spend my birthday. Belynda gives a wrenching speech at New England Medical Center stating why she is going off the protease. I tape another white woman, Carole, who is fantastic. I wish I didn’t ask Linda. Shit.

12/2/1997
There are moments in ones life when you are aware of the moment you are in and you know in your heart and soul that this is where you are supposed to be and you are so grateful for the awareness because it happens so rarely. Today I experienced one of those moments. I went with Matilde and Cristoba to Children’s Hospital this morning. In my initial clearance calls with his doctor, Kathryn Sample, I could feel she really didn’t want me there because she knew this session was going to be rough. Today she had to tell Chris he was starting on the protease inhibitors. He was his usual adorable exasperating self.

After three rounds of hide and seek with the camera and a 10 minute song and dance rif about Cruella DeVille that he performed as he slid up and down the hall on his back, stomach and head, he was asked to come into the office where Dr. Sample and Matilde were strategizing with a group of social workers on how to handle Chris’s treatment. No sooner was the door closed and the empathic Dr. Sample began her explanation of the drugs that Chris backed away from them and turned to the sink. To drown out her voice he turned on the water. Still able to hear her he opened the faucet full blast and the water gushed out of the sink and onto the floor. When asked to turn off the water he started screaming and argued with Matilde and Cathryn. He was not going to take the medicine. Especially at school. Then everyone would know he was sick.

I was trying not to breathe, trying not to bring any attention to my self. Waiting for the cue from Chris or Matilde to turn off the camera, that it was too much. The cue never came. I am knocked out at Matilde and her family’s courage as they continue to reveal themselves to me. It is one of the most amazing gifts I have ever received.

12/7/97
I could see the kleig lights slice the Boston skyline and hear the fans roar as the young celebrities arrived at their movie premiere as I walked to the subway to record Joe Pennell’s parent’s 25th anniversary party. The stars and writers were still in their teens. Trying not to veer into a my life is over self pity spiral, I succumb within seconds. Carrying my camera over my shoulder, my light kit, and tripod strapped to my back, I know I have been given the wrong script. I should really be working on a multimillion dollar thriller with Reese or Winona with an all star cast and crew of two thousand. Instead I am alone taking the subway to Somerville, to shoot a family party.

My delusions of grandeur thankfully erode when I turn the camera on the family and Joe’s favorite brother, Alan, who, surrounded by many screaming and laughing family members , asks Joe, “What’s this for?? meaning me, the camera. Everyone yelled out jokes trying to guess what I was shooting: dysfunctional families, alcoholism, Real World? –and Joe explained that I was making a documentary about people on the Protease Inhibitors, a stunning silence paralyzed the room. His brother who clearly loves him and is trying desperately to understand what is happening to Joe, hasn’t a clue what Joe is up against, falters. It takes a couple of minutes of awkward silence to allow the laughter and the shouts back in the room. Who needs Hollywood when you have Somerville.

12/8/97 Belynda looks fantastic. She dropped all the weight from the drugs and showed off her slim chin and neck. She also has a new boyfriend. I can’t wait to meet him! He treats her like gold, and calls her at least five times a day. I was there for an hour and he called twice.

12/9/97
Bruds went to the doctor and is doing great. He asked his doctor, Greg Robbins, if he was cured. Greg responded “Cured is a word we don’t use.”

12/15/97
Linda broke her wrist falling down the stairs of the “T” at Central Square in Cambridge. Needless to say she is bummed big time.

12/23/97
Brought the Garcia kids to the Planetarium at the Museum of Science. I brought them home and shot Chris taking his meds. His social worker/nurse was taking his vital signs. She asked Matilde if they received their Christmas gifts from the agency. They didn’t get anything, shoes, toothpaste, nothing.

12/24/97
I met Belynda’s daughter Hope, on vacation from the Army. What a pistol. Just like her Mom. Also met Derek, Belynda’s new boyfriend. Very sexy. No wonder Belynda’s so happy.

1/13/98
I shoot Joe at home with Bill’s mother and an 89 year old boarder that lives on their third floor. He feels like an old person at 37. After capturing many of their conversations on pills, aches and pains I realize their lives are frighteningly similar.

1/29/98
I followed Bruds around on his work day. I can’t keep up. Starting the day at his journalism class at BU I accompany him from Channel 56 to Fox to WBZ. He is the one everyone calls for a good sound bite. Today he was really in demand. It was revealed that Clinton had an affair with an intern. Brudnoy swears Bubba will resign within the next few months. I had a great interview with David in the backseat of his limo. The lights of Boston swirled behind him as one overhead car light provided his only illumination as he talked about sex and dating. He wants to have an affair. An intellectual with the looks of Brad Pitt.

2/1/98
Linda hasn’t returned a half dozen of my phone calls. I’m losing patience and interest.

2/6/98
Anibal Castaneda is the final person to join the mix. I shot him at his office at the Latino Housing Project where he works two days a week placing people with HIV into public housing. Often they are in shelters or halfway houses when he sees them. He’s getting married to the beautiful music therapist Caryl Beth. She runs a music therapy group at the Living Center. It was at her group that they met. They bought a house together in Hyde Park and are now getting married.

2/7/98
Matilde wins the AIDS Action Spirit Award. She looked beautiful in a new green dress from Marshalls. With Carmen and Armando at her side she gave a heartfelt speech thanking God and Belynda for all her help. Matilde was stunned that a coke from the cash bar was $2.50. We both got indignant that there weren’t drink tickets for her. Belynda was there looking like a movie star and so was Carole, the pretty red head. She’s everywhere I go.

2/23/98
I shoot Belynda and Carole shows up to take Belynda to lunch at Bertucci’s. I ask if I can tag along and tape. I record the entire 2 hours. They are on fire. I could make a movie of just their lunch. I ask Carole to join the project since she has been a part of it over the past four months, she agrees.

2/25/98
The drugs aren’t working for Joe. His viral load is way up. He tells his doctor he’s going off the drugs. They have an intense exchange. Joe seems to know more than his doctors. He’s so frustrated. He confesses to me in the waiting room how he feels he’s wasting time. It was such a weird framed shot but he was so honest and vulnerable I didn’t want to move him because I didn’t want to disturb the intensity of the moment. I just left the camera running as he is talked about the horror of his situation in a hushed frustrated tone, wanting, yet not wanting, anyone to hear his stifled scream.

2/26/98
“The shit’s working” for Carole. She went off the protease inhibitors and started on Sustiva and is having remarkable results. She and Lori her nurse practitioner scream and laugh that “the shit’s working!” It’s very sweet. I drive with Carole and her husband Michael to some of her appointments. He’s very closed off. Hat and sunglasses. Always looking away from the camera. He really doesn’t want me around.

3/7/98
I shot 4 hours of tape this weekend covering Belynda and the week of prayer. She is really breaking down the doors of the churches through her work in Who Touched Me Ministry. She is demanding that ministers get involved in their communities and address addiction and homosexuality and AIDS in their churches. Although many aren’t, some are. It’s really powerful witnessing some of the braver one ones that, “come out” and speak about AIDS and homosexuality from the pulpit. It’s what it’s all about. Belynda got so mad at me when I was shooting her leading the choir. The music was so loud I couldn’t hear anything and she kept yelling at me to get the camera and lights out of her face. I was smiling back and she was getting angrier and angrier. She didn’t even speak to me when I left. It wasn’t until I went back a logged the tape that I could hear her swearing at me! I called her to apologize and we both cracked up. It’s so funny, she’s leading the choir up near the altar and yelling, “Jay, get the fuck out of my face!!”

3/11/98
Went with Peter to the gym. He’s really doing well. He’s getting his photography career going and doesn’t feel sick at all.

3/23/98
Brudnoy is the host of the Academy Awards party at the Four Seasons. David shmoozes with the “acting” governor, Paul Cellucci, Donnie Walberg and his mother and a bevy of cute boys. They have figure skaters, Boston Bruins, and some local stars. No one works a room like Bruds, he’s seamless.

3/24/98
Armando and Matilde go in for their “marriage interview” at the JFK Building. Matilde is a citizen as are the children. Armando is a Cuban citizen, has AIDS, receives public benefits and has a prior criminal conviction that he already served time for 10 years before. The appointment was for 9:00am. The judge took Armando away in handcuffs and detained him on the 24th floor with no food and he could not take any of his medications. They released him at 5:00pm. Shooting the family reunited with their father in the JFK Plaza was wrenching. How much is one family supposed to deal with? Yes, it’s their previous actions that got them in the situation they are in but they have really committed to a life of recovery over the past decade. Rehabilitation is not what this country is about. There is talk of deportation proceedings against Armando.

4/1/98
Carole spoke before medical students in Worcester today. I’m seeing more of this state this year than in my first 18 years of being raised in Boston. She whispered, “How’d you get it”? into the mic. She did it a couple of times. It was so haunting. She later qualified it to her students that everyone when they first see her are dying to know how she “got it”. Pretty white women aren’t supposed to get AIDS. When white people see her it disturbs them on so many different levels.

4/2/98
Joe’s not feeling well. He’s pissed because his doctor thinks some of his illness is anxiety and not physical. He feels dismissed.

4/13/98
I was the Brudnoy circus today. After teaching his class at BU I went back to his apartment, there was a photo shoot in the late morning, a TV crew in the afternoon, a pretty junior from Buckingham Brown and Nichols interviewing him for a class project and then 5 hours of his radio show. He then reads books until 1:00am. A constant swirl is always happening around him. This is what keeps him thriving, his constant engagement with others.

4/14/98
I went to Anibal and Caryl Beth’s house. I’m struck by her intelligence and Ivory Soap natural beauty. She is right out of those sixties commercials. She and Anibal are splitting for good. He had a heroin relapse last year. She made him move into a halfway house in Jamaica Plain. It’s his addiction, not AIDS, that gives her the most worry. She is really the best thing in his life right now and he’s throwing it away with the illusion of being “free”. He just doesn’t want to work on the relationship. She’s really torn up about it. I feel like I’m watching a slow motion car wreck where you know someone is about to get killed.

4/19/98
I was at the Garcia’s. Matilde was at work. I was with the kids and Armando. Armando just got back from dialysis. He is so-o-o sick! The kids are in and out of the house as kids do. They are playing ball and riding bikes with the other kids in the neighborhood. They get along pretty well. Carmen plays handball against the wall with one arm behind her back. It was so poignant. Emulating her mom. I have all these wonderful shots that speak volumes about the characters. It’s going to be such a challenge to get these little jewels into the final film.

4/21/98
I was at Belynda’s house at 9:00am. She was on her couch sporting a big black Shirley Temple type wig, smoking cigarettes, wearing a white night gown talking to Derek, her new boyfriend, from jail. He was arrested for delinquent child support payments. Where is her story going? I followed her walking into the jail. Cameras weren’t allowed inside. I waited two hours for her to come out. We had a great interview in her car. He asked her to “jump over the broom”, e.g., get married. She’s very excited. She looked great with her new wig and red pantsuit.

4/22/98
Carole spoke at Phillips Andover today. Kids ask better questions than adults. They have less screens. More honest. Carole is so good with people and great with crowds. The girls were all crying and hugging her at the end. Finally she had to back off and say, “Look, girls I’m all right! I really am!” I guess they transferred their anxieties and fears about their own mothers on to Carole.

5/6/98
I feel I had a breakthrough with Matilde today. I was at her house at 7:00am as she got her family and herself ready for the day. Normally she is dressed, the house spotless, today she met me at the door, disheveled, barely said hi and turned away and continued getting the kids ready for school. This was something I always wanted to see but she never allowed me to see. She never looked at the camera. She acted as if I wasn’t there. She was ironing, the kids were running all around her, she had to be at work in an hour, the kids all had to be out of the house in 45 minutes. Laurie, Chris’s social worker was pleading with her to make sure Chris takes his medications. “Yes, yes, I know, I know”, as she frantically finished her ironing. It was one of the most riveting scenes I have shot. This is going in the film. This is AIDS in America. This is life in America.

5/18/98
Was at WBZ with David today. He was taping a film review that he does with the WBZ Arts Critic, Joyce Kulhawik. Today they reviewed the Horse Whisperer. David called it the “Stables of Madison County”. They are a smart, talented and hard working group. David’s contract was renewed for another 3 years. He feels it’s a real testament to the drugs. He told me that as he was taking off his makeup in the bathroom.

5/20/98
I went with Peter to a work consultant. He’s doing so well that now he can begin his photography business. He is really excited to get it going, kind of anxious, but who wouldn’t be? He’s doing so well, except his triglycerides are off the chart.

5/25/98
The scene I shot today with Carole and her doctor, Lisa Hirshhorn, is the reason I am making this film. An unsuspecting Carole went to her appointment to get her viral load results. Understandably she was hoping there would be some good news. She was excited and nervous. When Lisa asked her who she was doing, Carole said, “C’mon just tell me what the numbers are. We’ll exchange hello’s later.” Lisa got right to it. “They were essentially unchanged.” Meaning the drugs aren’t working. She has to change regimens, again. Lisa took charge, explaining that the drugs weren’t strong enough and began with alternative therapies. Slowly it began to sink in. Carole, reached for a tissue. Bowed her head and said, “what am I going to do if these don’t work?” Then a flood broke. The rage. The tears. Why? She had been faithful with taking her drugs every day, on time. Carole said, “Do you know what it’s like going to a conference and hearing everyone doing so well?” Lisa held her hand as she tried to comfort Carole. “50% of the people on the drugs are having a lot of trouble” said Lisa. It went on and on. Later she went outside and she crumpled into Michael’s arms. “They failed on me, they failed.” There is nothing on this planet that I would rather be doing. This has been the greatest privilege of my life. I cannot believe how fortunate I am to bear witness to these intimate moments. I am amazed that most people won’t go near an AIDS story. It’s done, over. Shattering moments like today make me realize it is so far from over.

5/27/98
Joe and Bill were celebrating their 14th anniversary in Newport, RI. He started feeling intense pain radiating up his legs, and knew right off it was neuropathy. Sure enough it was. He said it was the most debilitating thing that has ever happened to him. John Mazzulo was devastated because his viral load and t-cells were the lowest and highest, respectively, they had ever been. Later that day I go to Jordan’s Furniture in Natick where Brudnoy is doing his show from the mobile studio in the store’s parking lot. He’s a big celebrity in the suburbs, particularly with women. One attractive woman in her forties asked me, “But AIDS doesn’t exist anymore does it? I mean look at David Brudnoy, he beat it.” Still shell shocked from the previous days of shooting, I had to stifle a scream. I just said, “you should have been with me over the past 2 days and then you tell me AIDS is over. I was just with a woman and a man in the last 48 hours who the drugs don’t work for.” “Women can get this”? she asked.

06/01/98
I get a hold of an old editing system and hire David Young to start helping me sifting through the 200 hours of footage. We start putting the people next to one another and start sketching the stories. Daunting, but very exciting. We are also moving back to New York because Mike just became the executive director of PEN, the writer’s organization.

6/11/98
Anibal had what I thought was going to be a routine doctor’s appointment today. I spent all morning with him at his halfway house shooting him as he meditated, had breakfast, made his bed. Nothing was really going on in his life according to him. We get to Lisa Hirschhorn’s office, who is also Carole’s doctor and he tells the nurse that he thinks he might have been exposed to hepatitis. I didn’t give it much thought. When Lisa meets with him she asks if he is having sex. He is no longer with Caryl Beth. I know they are broken up for good. He reveals to me that he really lost a good thing. I don’t disagree. Anibal says yes, he has had sex. “Using a condom?” Lisa asks. “Yes and no.” The woman he had sex with had a break out of hepatitis and he was afraid he was exposed. He didn’t use a condom. I wanted to stop the camera and shout at him but I took the cue from Lisa. She kept asking questions in a firm non-judgmental way. After their session I kept following him around asking him, why? I wanted to understand. He had been in chronic pain for years with no physical satisfaction and here was an HIV positive woman that wanted to have sex with him without any barriers. Because of his medications he has trouble maintaining an erection and condoms make it even harder.

6/12/98
As I am putting the movie together I fear that I have too many people. I have three white gay men, two doing well, one not. I’m terrified I might have to drop one. I can’t. I love everyone and they all add a specific dimension. I’m leaving it.

6/18/98
The movie is leaden. I tried many configurations and I am afraid Peter is going to be cut. Three gay men, 2 doing well, one not, Augh! I need to do this before everyone meets each other on the David Brudnoy’s radio show tomorrow. We are doing the final shoot tomorrow. I called him and went over to his house. I would have loved to have left him a voicemail bit I knew I had to do it to his face. It was really tough. We cried and hugged but I had to do it. I swore I would leave a line in the credits, To Peter Urban and his invaluable contribution to the making of Undetectable.

6/19/98
They all met without a hitch. It was so touching to see them all together. I was so thrilled. At first, Matilde was really late and I thought she wasn’t going to show. The women thought Anibal was on cocaine because he wouldn’t stop talking and was all over the place. Belynda pulled me into the kitchen and told me to “get him to shut up.” But everyone pulled through and did a great show and were very articulate and honest. I am so proud of all of us!

6/19/1998
Principal photography with a surplus of 200 hours of footage was completed on June 19, 1998.

7/8/98-9/16/98
George O’Donnell (editor) and I work around the clock to get a twenty-five minute work in progress together for the Independent Feature Film Market (IFFM)

9/20/98
Sunday morning at 10:00am. The screening went well. I got a lot of people to follow with.

9/30/98
It’s a bust. Nothing from the IFFM except a lot of cards and phone numbers. People say that is the point of the market. Planting seeds. Harvest later. Spare me. I spent my last $15,000 on the work-in-progress and now I have nothing to move me forward. I guess I put my expectations too high. I really thought something would come of this. Shit.

11/13/98
I got this e-mail today from Donna Wade, one of Joe Pennell’s best friends. Dear Jay, Joe passed away peacefully at about 10:05pm on Friday evening, November 12. He was surrounded by his family and a multitude of friends. Memorial arrangements will be made Saturday afternoon, so we’re guessing that it will probably be held on Monday or maybe even Tuesday. Joe fought harder than most ever would, and the doctor said he sustained more medical abuse than most people could have tolerated. We all lost a strong, brave, amazing friend tonight. Take care and I’ll keep you posted on the details.

11/16/98
Called in sick today (must have been the fish) and took a bus to Boston. I’m so glad I went to the wake. Broke down at the coffin. Devastated. Got a slice of pizza in Davis Square, took the “T” to South Station and got back on the bus. Was home at 2:00am.

1/15/99
Nothing has budged with my movie and I’m back at my old supplemental acting job that I did one day a week four years ago when I was performing Off-Broadway, getting coffee for Calvin Klein. The agony is, I’m working here full-time. Thank God the windows are sealed.

2/7/99
Three weeks playing a bailiff on Guiding Light. Thank God. It’s a re-occuring role I’ve done for three years. It’s money and I don’t have to worry for a month. I’ve really hit a wall on Undetectable. No one returns my calls, letters unanswered. I’m so frustrated and don’t know what to do. I’m told sometimes it’s better to do nothing. I don’t believe it.

3/18/99
After being rejected from eight foundations I’m feeling really desperate. I call the digital guru, Bob Doyle, in Cambridge, MA. I’ve heard about him for years but never met him. He suggest I buy a G-3 and get radius edit-dv software and edit myself. The whole system is less than $5,000. I drive to see him. While in Boston I meet with an initial contributor, and show him the work-in-progress. He pulls out his pen and checkbook and writes out a check to pay for the system. I collapse on his rug and roll around speaking in tongues of inane gratitude. He tells me that my next project has to be writing a screenplay. It’s much cheaper, he says.

4/5/99
I start my first corporate job 9-5. Human resources in an investment firm. I cannot believe how glad I am not getting Calvin’s coffee. DocuClub is screening my work in progress at MOMA. It also screened in Sydney and London at their gay and lesbian film festivals. It has also been used as an educational tool for the Family Center in Manhattan that provides services and research for families with life threatening diseases, and at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis public school in New York City. I even made fifty dollars from the school’s library.

5/15/99
The editing system is finally set up right outside the upstairs bathroom. I’m working in a 8″X 2″ space. I’m in heaven. I can finally start to edit on my own. If I can only figure out how to turn it on.

10/01/99
Been working with a volunteer editor, Mauricio Lizcano two nights a week, for the past two months. Belynda took 4 months. Not because of volume or story, I spent too much time trying to make it perfect, titles, fades, etc. I realized I could spend 5 years working this way so I committed to just finding the story. No effects, titles. Just the story.

10/01/99 – 11/13/99
I got this e-mail today from Donna Wade, one of Joe Pennell’s best friends. Dear Jay, Joe passed away peacefully at about 10:05pm on Friday evening, November 12. He was surrounded by his family and a multitude of friends. Memorial arrangements will be made Saturday afternoon, so we’re guessing that it will probably be held on Monday or maybe even Tuesday. Joe fought harder than most ever would, and the doctor said he sustained more medical abuse than most people could have tolerated. We all lost a strong, brave, amazing friend tonight. Take care and I’ll keep you posted on the details.

10/01/99
Called in sick today (must have been the fish) and took a bus to Boston. I’m so glad I went to the wake. Broke down at the coffin. Devasted. Got a slice of pizza in Davis Square, took the “T” to South Station and got back on the bus. Was home at 2:00am.

11/23/99
Travel to Brazil as guest of the minister of health to screen the 25 minute work-in-progress of Undetectable and participate in a panel with Brazil’s leading infectious disease specialists. I was so proud. Who knew when I started making this that it would take me to another country and connect to people that I couldn’t speak one word of their language. It gave me renewed hope that there is interest in this subject. It was the boost I needed. After a two month introduction to Jonathan Demme’s people by a close friend of his, I sent the tape and materials and was blown off quite horribly. It’s par for the course. Thank god I was an actor for twelve years and have developed a healthy resiliency for rejection. I bum out for half an hour then move on.

1/5/00
I begin work on Matilde. As exhausted as I get when I come home from my day job I am so grateful for the privilege to be invited in these people’s lives. It’s amazing how revealing some of the scenes they allowed me to shoot. Although I’m always physically exhausted I’m never weary of this movie. It’s the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done.

2/27/00
Matilde’s finally done. I made a copy and sent it to her. It’s always nerve-wracking sending it to them for approval. What if they hate it? By editing each story and finding the natural arc we will then weave it all together into one story.

3/1/00
Carole started today. I fall in love with all these people all over again. Spending nearly every night with them I re-live it all again and again. The sadness, joy, hope and frustration. I talk back at the monitor.

4/10/00
Carole’s done. She liked it, thank god. That scene always gets me when she is getting her viral load results and she realizes the drugs aren’t working. That scene always makes me cry. It’s so primal and tragic. Greek

4/20/00
Been working on Joe. This is by far the hardest, emotionally. Because of his death, even the smallest most mundane gesture, expression or comment takes on such significance. It’s so brutal. I keep hoping there will be a scene that will divert the impending collision but I keep building segment into segment that leads to his death. His hope and courage are inspiring yet wrenching. Things just don’t work out the way we planned. What is so special about Joe is that he constantly adjusts and accepts his diminishing choices up to the end with such grace and dignity.

6/10/00
Gearing up for a final on-line edit beginning July 17 An Angel, Arthur Williams from TapeHouse Editorial, has descended from heaven.. I actually applied for a job at this man’s company. Wasn’t hired but I left him my work-in-progress of Undetectable and Life and Death on the A-list. A few months later I did a spot on the Barry Z show begging for money. I think he saw it. Six months ago I ran into him at the opera, my first, and he told me to call him when I had a rough cut. I called him last week. I’m nearing a rough cut but still have another two months. I called him anyway. He asked me what I needed. An on-line and an editor. Fine call me. I almost started crying. One year and a half, thousands of phone calls, hundreds of letters, forty three grant proposal and foundation rejections. Finally. God Bless this man!

6/19/00
Currently racing against the clock editing each person’s storyline. Finished Joe’s today. Transcribing the rough cut is the most time-consuming. Every word and the in/out of the shots. I need an intern, desperately! I’ve put up a couple of signs at film schools but no takers. $8.00 and hour. We-e-e! Just been promoted to a new job in my 9-5 world. More stress and hours. Perfect timing.

6/20/00
Renting a car to shoot Belynda, Brudnoy, Matilde, Anibal’s family and Carole over the July 4th weekend. I’ll shoot, Belynda, Matilde and Brudnoy Saturday. I’ll stop by and see Anibal’s family to offer my condolences and find out what happened. Sunday, July, 2, I’ll pick the car up in Boston, drive to the Cape for Carole. Drive on to Truro to pick up Mike and visit Christian. Try to rest for one day. Then drive back to New York on the fourth. After Budget, Avis, Enterprise, NATIONAL will do it. It took one hour just to make the car arrangements. I need two interns!

6/22/00
Got an intern. Left a desperate message for Rebecca Levy at Joe Lovett’s, Lovett Productions. This company is another godsend to me. They are such a strong source of support. Larrison is currently transcribing Joe Pennell’s script. That’s 10 hours to work on other things.

6/25/00
Worked eight hours on Brudnoy’s story. Digitizing, digitizing, digitizing. I’m nowhere near completed. Sifting through 30 HOURS! There is no arc. How to tell a story where nothing happens. He starts healthy and ends healthy and works constantly. Thank God for David. AIDS doesn’t affect his life in the way it does the others. This is part of the story and I’m glad to have this reprieve in the film but it is confounding to find a structure. I’ll find it.

6/30/00
The first of leg of the journey is finished. Back in Boston. Work was hellishly busy. This new job is so stressful and difficult. How am I going to finish my movie? Often I leave at 7pm. I edit from 9-12am, then back up again at 5:30 am. Crazy. It’s midnight and I need to get to bed. Matilde, 8am, dear Belynda, Brudnoy and Anibal’s family and Carole on Sunday. How am I going to do all that?

7/1/00
Eating toothbreaking corn chips and watery salsa on Centre St. in Jamaica Plain, one block east of Anibal’s. Before I went to the Castaneda’s I was so exhausted I didn’t think I would make it to their house from the “T” stop with all my equipment strapped to every body part. Some day I’m going to work with a crew, even if it’s one sound person. I was ten minutes late getting to Matilde. 8:10am. With Matilde that’s a lot. I promised donuts for the kids and could not find a Dunkin Donut’s near where I was staying on Beacon Hill. I had to go to Park Street. However it was sheer delight when I got there. Matilde looks beautiful! She has these very chic yellow lensed sun glasses. I’ve never seen her look so good. The kids are big and beautiful. Christoba is doing fantastic. He was on his way to camp. Carmen is a peer educator in the latin community. She goes to schools and talks with kids her own age about std’s, AIDS and addiction. Simone still wants to be a wrestler. I’m so proud of them! Their house feels lighter and brighter. The air doesn’t feel so heavy. They are in a great period and I felt a real privilege being able to witness it.

However, Belynda is not in a good period. She is clearly dying and she knows it and she is enraged. Yet, she still keeps her spirit and God is ever present in her life. She’s lost 60 pounds and is extremely weak. Although her arms and legs are very skinny her belly is distended because of the failing liver. Derek left her and he is doing crack again. She is waiting for a liver transplant. If she doesn’t get a new one within the year, she will die. She is making peace with her family, friends, God and her work. Who Touched Me Ministry will survive her and she is deeply gratified by that. She’s angry that Brudnoy and the others are doing well. I played down Matilde and Carole. She’s really irritable, uncomfortable and weak and really hates this phase of her life. Who can blame her? She works very hard at finding the silver lining in this situation. Her strong faith is really carrying her.

Meeting with the Castaneda’s was really amazing. Anibal has been using heroin since his break up with Caryl Beth. I remember during the Brudnoy radio show he kept talking and talking. Everyone was pulling me aside to get him to shut up and that he was high. “No way,” I said, “he’s in recovery”. His last year he was up to 30 bags of heroin a day. His poor mother, who looks just like him, was crying, as she does every day. Now for Brudnoy. What an extraordinary journey. Just witnessing Matilde, how she was for those years and how she is now, the same with Belynda. How hard Joe fought and watching him fight and fight each day in his quiet focused way. It’s amazing what human’s are capable of when it comes to day to day survival. The ups and downs of life is really all about God. You really see God working in all these people’s lives as He is in mine. Whatever this turns out to be it has been one of the most profound experiences of my life.
7/2/2000 Bruds is fine. He looks exactly the same and is doing exactly the same. I worry that his story is not dramatic because there is no arc, nothing happens. But then again the audience will be so relieved that nothing happens it will be a pleasure to watch or it will be suspenseful because the audience will be always braced for something terrible to happen, but it never does. What I find quite interesting is that both Belynda and Brudnoy commented that they feel less resentful toward others. That’s the one change they feel over the last year that has occurred. A softness for Brudnoy and a resolution/acceptance for Belynda.

I have to record my taxi conversation to the airport car rental this morning. I flagged down a taxi, quite hard in Boston. There just aren’t any. I was in my usual packed mule state with all my equipment. The driver was obese and didn’t lift a finger to help me. I instantly hated him and made all these assumptions on his ignorant life. We started talking about the Cape. I told him I was picking up a rental car to drive to the Cape. As things progressed I told him I was working on a documentary on AIDS and one of the women in my film lives there.

“Did she shake the wrong hand?”

“No. Her husband cheated on her.”

“Really, I know nothing about this. I used to cheat on my wife but we have four kids. I love them and I love her. She’s skinny, beautiful, never cheats on me. She doesn’t give me any affection. As soon as I put the ring on, affection went out the window. It’s still that way. 28 years of marriage, no affection. That’s why I’m so fat. I use food. I wouldn’t leave her, I just want oral sex. With her there’s only one way of doing it. I started going to other housewives in the neighborhood. They would do oral sex. I’d give them money and I’d be done. I’d have what I wanted and go back to bed with my wife and sleep.”

“You have to wear a condom when you’re having sex with prostitutes.”

“Oh, I never do it with prostitutes. I just do it with housewives for money.”

“If you’re going to fuck around wear a condom.”

We pulled up to the car rental and he got out of the car and helped me unload my luggage.

“I’m too fucking scared.”

“Don’t be scared, just wear a condom.”

Carole’s husband Michael greeted me with a hug and without sunglasses. I thought I was going to keel over. What happened!?! He was never too excited to have me around but like the other spouses I think he saw that it meant something to Carole so he obliged. He and Carole have really been through the wringer and have come out on the other side, quite beautifully.

7/12/00
Work is so stressful. I come home and work on the film, religiously. Brud’s is coming along oh, so slow. I get up at 5:30 am, run, get to work by 8-8:30am and work until 6 or 7. I get home, eat and start editing by 9 until midnight. I feel like I’m going to crack. I don’t think I have ever worked so hard in my life.

7/22/00
Brud’s is finished. I think it’s interesting. It’s not all flattering. I think he’s going to freak about the inclusion of his dating escapades. Oh well. Now I have to transcribe the piece word for word, shot for shot. This is when I need a full-time intern. At least I have someone to type my transcripts into the computer.

7/29/00
I worked last night until 12:30am. When I started to work on the film this morning, Saturday, I found a three-minute clip on my timeline that I have no recollection of putting there. This movie is getting made in a sleep deprived black out.

7/30/00
Anibal’s skeleton has been set. 25 minutes. I have to cut, cut. He is too much fun to work on and I find it all so fascinating.

8/15/00
I have all the new footage added and all the six stories. Hooking VCR to VCR and stop and start I have a very rough 2 hour movie with a lot of garbage in-between cuts. I write out a script and keep honing.

9/11/00
Feeling like I have a good rough cut with every in and out clearly logged and marked I call Arthur Williams at Tapehouse to tell him I’m ready for my on-line. I bring up my 200 tapes and a crate full of notes and other tapes and meet with Arthur and Mark Poloycon. They are aghast at my “off-line”. But look here are all the shots, the tapes. It’s all here. I felt like I just took a big dump on their floor. “Where’s your OMF, EDL, Beta Master?” I made my first documentary, Life and Death on the A-List like this. Why can’t I do Undetectable like this? I have reached a new level of humiliation. I really hate doing everything by myself. I learn a lot but the process is excruciating. They very politely told me to hire an editor and do a real off-line. Not my version of an off-line. They are not talking weeks and weeks with me sitting next to an editor and trying things. They are talking days. Guess what? No Sundance.

10/15/00
Trying to raise more money for my off-line I went back to Dan Algrant at the Wellspring Foundation. He couldn’t have been more encouraging to me. I can re-submit. Bless him.

11/08/00
I’ve called about ten editors and they are all unavailable or too expensive. I think I might go with an intern. Maybe he would be really good. He’s been an assistant on a couple of films. He has to start somewhere and I’m desperate to get this finished. I have a screening at the Guggenheim in December 1. They want 15 minutes. I’ll have him do it and see how it works out.

12/03/00
It doesn’t work with the assistant editor. A nice kid but way too green. George, my original editor can do it. He has five weeks. I take it. He says it can’t be done. I tell him it can. I spent a year editing it down to 2 hours. He just has to add his magic touches to give it a shape. I have no money but we start editing at Lovett Productions on the 17th.

12/10/00
My friend Grant Schneider offers his penthouse apartment to throw me a fund-raiser. The stress between the job, the movie, the holidays, and this fund-raiser has me so tightly wound I could snap and break into a thousand pieces if the wind was strong enough.

12/20/00
My friend Bernard Olstein cooked a delicious party and my friends Richard Stegman and Hal Simons served. What would I do without these guys. The party was sparsely attended but it served it’s purposes. I sent out invitations to people that I knew would not be able to attend but they graciously sent in checks. People are always looking to give away money at the end of the year. I make the first two weeks payment. We are editing. I’m so glad to have George.

12/23/00
Jim McNabb, takes Mike and me to the King Cole bar at the St. Regis for Brunch. He writes out a check that will cover all George’s editing expenses. I can’t hold it in anymore and break down into a puddle of tears. God Bless Him!

12/29/00
Scott Killian signs on to do my music. He’s done a lot of theater and I know his boyfriend, Ron Bagden, the actor. It’s funny, before I even met him I knew I wanted to him to do the music for this. He’s phenomenal. Really talented and hard working. He really adds a lot to the film.

1/05/01
I get a call from Dan Algrant at the Wellspring Foundation. They have awarded me another grant that will cover my off-line rental and the on-line expenses that I agreed to pay Arthur. I was at work so I didn’t cry. But I did a little “touchdown” dance in my cubicle.

1/09/01
The film is really coming along. It will get done. Thank God I did all that pre-edit. George tells me his new job that was supposed to start the first of February is starting next week and he has to be there. It’s more money. It’s a film for IFC about sex in independent movies. I hate these people. I’m sure they are really nice people but I still hate them and their stupid sex projects that add nothing to the world except minor distraction and titillation for 60 minutes, yet people throw thousands and thousands of dollars at them to make this crap. My next project is going to be about big-breasted 18 year old blonde girls who spit. I’ll get millions to make it, I’m sure.

1/20/01
I hire a friend of George’s that comes in and cleans things up for a couple of weeks. I miss George. To his credit, he works for me at night and on weekends for free. I am one week away from meeting the Los Angeles Film Festival Final deadline. I call Thomas Ethan Harris, the programmer, who I met at the Film Market that I thought was a bust, and beg him for another week extension. Thomas is a filmmakers dream and diehard ally. He absolutely loves film and understands the hazards of filmmaking. He says “no problem”.

2/15/01
The off-line rough cut has been sent to LA for the festival.

3/10/01
Thomas Ethan Harris calls me and asks if I want to be in the Los Angeles Film Festival. Let me think”¦

3/20/01
Tapehouse Editorial is finishing my on-line. Adam Wolman and Doug Senger have been the editor and sound mixer, respectively. They did an amazing job. Their studios are right out of star track. It’s a far cry from my G-3 and edit/dv software.

3/28/01
It’s done! It’s winging it’s way to the Los Angeles Film Festival. I hired a massage therapist for the staff at Tapehouse. They have really been so kind to me. This movie would not have happened without them. They saved me over 20 thousand dollars! I owe them my life.

4/10/01
All this press stuff!! How to get a documentary about AIDS on the radar. Ed Burns’ new movie or Undetectable? Gee.. that’s a tough one. I just have to send out the press kits and do a follow up phone call and let it go. I’ll make myself miserable if I don’t.

4/20/01
Great filmmakers lunch sponsored by the festival. Outside, palm trees, lots of sunglasses. Very LA. I’m really excited to be here.

4/22/01
The screening went well. It was exciting. People are complaining that the festival hasn’t been well attended and seems very quiet. There wasn’t a peep about my movie. These things can be such a cesspool of greed and jealousy if you let it get to you. Fortunately I’ve got good friends out here, particularly Patrick Kerr, the actor. He’s one of my best friends. We just hang around laugh and see movies and eat burritos. There were some great movies, Law of Enclosures, based on Dale Peck’s novel, The King is Alive, an new dogma film; and A Friend Like Harry, a French film. I want to make a dogma film. They knock me out. I’m having a great time here.

4/24/01
The best part of this festival is the 10:00am coffees. Board members and filmmakers get a chance to meet one another. I also loved the belly dancing dinner. That was a total blast! The coffees are great because they are low key and people seem nicer in the morning. Mornings are great because in most cases people haven’t been too traumatized by the days events and are kinder. By nighttime someone invariably learns a rival got a better distribution deal or they learned their next project was sent to turnaround and they become hateful.

4/26/01
My last day and screening. It was at the Sunset Lemmle. I loved that theater. Undetectable looked and sounded great. I introduced my film to the audience and made a mad dash across the street to attend a networking party with Bunim-Murray, the makers of Real World. I thought my movie would be perfect calling card to eventually work with them. Some of the executives were nice, gave me their card. There was absolutely no interest. The best way to get rid of people, give them your card. I ran back to my screening and almost got hit crossing the street. After I settled in and watched the remaining hour and twenty minutes I felt an enormous sense of accomplishment. This was the movie I wanted to make and I did it. All this other stuff, the parties, the press, the next job, is toxic, yet necessary. It all comes back to the work. If you’re not telling a story you burn to tell, why put yourself through all this torture?

5/10/01
Festivals and more festivals. I’m glad I started with the LA Film Festival. It’s mainstream. I’m doing a lot of the gay festivals which I am glad about but I don’t want to ghettoize my film. It’s not a gay film. It’s about all people. Frameline in San Francisco are flying me out and putting me up at a hotel. We-e-e-e!

6/1/01
New York Times Film Critic, gives Undetectable a glowing review in the Times today. It was in the New Festival and he singled it out, starting the column with my film. What a gem.

6/20/01
I got a package from PBS today. I have been accepted into the Independent Lens program at PBS. They pick 10 films and I was one of them. I can’t believe it! Suddenly this package arrives and boom, my life changes. I have to call and make sure this is real.

6/21/01
It’s real. My God there are so many deliverables I don’t understand a thing in this redbook. It’s all due in 2 months. I have to cut 25 minutes out of it, figure out all the underwriting and PBS logo placement, website, on-air offer, make 2 trailers. I just found out I’ll be starting a new job in another department but until they find a replacement for me I have to work two jobs and yesterday afternoon I found out my father has three months to live. He hasn’t allowed me into his house in 10 years after I told him I was gay. What the hell happened to the planets?

7/2/01
I send Brudnoy, Carole, Belynda, Matilde, Joe and Anibals’ family, a press packet of all the mentions and the good news about PBS. I want them to know this is not dead in the water

7/10/01
Work is beyond stressful. I’m in Training and Development now. Still in HR. I like it better. If only I could do just one thing. I’m still doing my old job. I have cornered George to give me two weekends to help me cut the film, Scott is making new music, and Arthur has agreed to another sound mix and on-line. I need more money to finish. The insurance and title clearance is $4,000, almost half of what I am being paid by PBS. I got a call today at work from a radio station in Philadelphia that wants to interview me about my film. My boss was standing right outside my door. I discreetly close my door and have the 5 minute interview and race to my next HR appointment. The people around me are always commenting that I seem to always be in a hurry always running.

7/16/01
After a fun-filled weekend at the Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Film Festival I had to rushed back today and accept the best documentary award and collect a $500.00 check. They were so nice to me. They had me on NBC yesterday and really showed me a great time. I had a great time with the other filmmakers. Barbara Hammer, Dan Butinowsky from All Over The Guy and me were on a panel. I really hit it off with both of them. We hung out all night at a filmmaker’s reception. This is festival is a little jewel.

7/21/01
Belynda has been on the front page of the Boston Herald and Boston Globe all weekend on every news channel. Her HMO, Harvard Pilgrim, denied coverage of her liver transplant on grounds that it was experimental. She sued. Now everyone is back tracking and a fund was created for her to have the operation. Over $300,000 was raised. She is on the cover of the Herald today accepting a check from Mayor Menino. You go GIRL!!! I just called her. She got real sick from all the stress of the past week and is back in the hospital. She’s sounds so weak. She sounds hopeful.

7/25/01
I’m getting about 20 e-mails a day from various departments at PBS. Interactive, Policy, Publicity, Legal, Underwriting, I can’t keep it straight. I think most people that have a film playing on PBS don’t have a full-time 50 hour a week job. George and Scott have been so helpful at cutting and changing shots and sound. I think the movie is much stronger in it’s 56:46 version. Bruds thinks I should be shooting the Belynda story. How the hell can I add anything? I have to CUT, CUT, CUT. I’ll add a new card to her epilogue.

8/5/01
I have two weeks to get everything in. The film has to go to Pillar to Post for a technical review and close captioning by the 15th. I have to raise $5,000 in ten hours and I don’t have a clue as to how I’m going to raise it.

8/6/01
David Landay suggested I call Tom Viola of Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS. I call Tom and to my surprise he picks up the phone. I try to conceal my panic and ask. He calls me back in two hours telling me to come by and pick up a three thousand dollar check. God Bless Tom, Arthur, Jim and all the others who helped me in the final hour.

8/12/01
My father was recently diagnosed with mylodysplesia which is a deadly blood disease. He is not able to make white blood cells or platelets. Through the past few nights I have been at his house changing his bloody diapers every three hours. I am so sleep deprived. As my father was getting his third platelet transfusion. It was the first time in 11 years that I was invited into his house. I was able to tell him that I still loved him even though he was extremely cruel to me these past 11 years. In all honesty, I told him I was proud to be his son. Before his banishment he was quite loving to me and taught me many great things. I was glad I could feel that again for him.

8/18/01
The final 56:46 version was sent to Pillar to Post for a final technical review and close captioning. They send it to PBS. It’s DONE!!!!!!

8/23/01
Press!!Press!!Press!! Too much! Poor Cara White has 10 movies to push. Carriage reports. When are stations airing it? What is the paper for that city? Who is the reporter for that city? Ugh!! How the hell do we navigate this?

9/11/01
Everything I have been worrying about has taken a back seat. We have been attacked. The World Trade Center destroyed. I live a mile from the World Trade Center and am in the locked zone below 14th street. It’s a war zone, checkpoints, smoke, dust, police, emergency vehicles. It’s beyond surreal. I left work at 3pm. It took 2 hours to get home. It normally takes 20 minutes. The bus I was on stopped at 26th St. and everyone had to get off. The street was filled with military men with machine guns. I walked home and got my camera and shot until midnight. Got four blocks away from “Ground Zero.”

New York Diary 2
Police at Ground Zero

9/12/01
Didn’t go to work. Started shooting at 6am. The air has gotten worse. Smoke everywhere. Another building collapsed. Food staples are running out in our local grocery store. It’s really shocking. Everyone is just stunned. I don’t know how people have survived in Israel, Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Rwanda and many other war torn areas. The thought of caring about a press release about Undetectable seems ludicrous.

9/14/01
Left this morning at 6:00am to leave for Vermont to take care of my father. There were very few cars below 14th St. We’re still in the restricted area but I hear it will soon be lifted. The only car I saw, fortunately was a taxi. I flagged it down to take me to Avis in midtown. I opened the door and saw the driver was a Sikh. I jumped back and tried to stifle a scream when I saw the turban and almost ran away from the car. I was deeply embarrassed at my skittishness and realized how easy it is to develop prejudices and how important it is to work hard to overcome it. I arrived at my parent’s home and my father was really sick. It was my mother’s 75th birthday and I brought her a cake at the famed Cupcake Café on Ninth Avenue. Poor woman is not doing well. Drinking too much wine. She is shell shocked. As am I. At least I don’t drink. That would make it much worse. There was hardly any discussion of what happened in New York, just my father’s health. The tv is on 24/7 to CNN. I want to be back in New York. I want comfort. There isn’t any. I sleep next to my father and wake every three hours to change his bloody diapers. I’m too tired to clean up the bathroom as the blood spills out onto the floor and walls. I’ll do it in the morning. When I am fully awake it looks like a bomb went off in the bathroom. From one war zone to another. Oh yea, did I mention that our company was acquired by Deutsche Bank and 3,000 of us are getting laid off in March? What is it with 2001?

10/06/01
My father died this afternoon at 4:00pm. My sisters, seeing that he was in a morphine induced coma thought he was going to be around for a while and decide to go “antiquing”. They needed and wanted a much needed break. Having seen so many friends die from AIDS I knew by listening to his breathing and his eye movement, that he had a matter of hours, not days or weeks. I told them I didn’t think it was a good idea. They should just sit tight. My older sister Trish, who had been standing vigil all day said she was going to take a shower. Ten minutes later my Aunt Betty was banging on the shower door to get her out to say goodbye. He died. Then Trish came out in her towel and ran to the bed. He revived for about a minute to say goodbye to her and then went for good. He’s being buried in Wellesley, MA our former home, where he and my mother were raised and they raised us.

11/15/01
I keep shooting at Ground Zero. It’s still really devastating. The worst is how people drape themselves in the flag paraphernalia and take pictures of themselves infront of the ruins. I am incensed at the lack of help and information I’m getting from PBS as to when Undetectable is airing. There are no reports or any kind of information. There is the horrible CPB directory where you have to call each station individually. It’s outrageous. I’ve called about 4 people at PBS to complain. They loathe me. I loathe them. I know it’s all displaced rage and grief from the past 2 months. I have to promise myself not to e-mail or phone Cheryl Jones or anyone at Independent Lens for the rest of the showing. Actually I am thrilled it’s on their station. They do have to get some kinks out.

12/01/01
The Museum of Fine Arts showed Undetectable three times for World AIDS Day today. It was a dream come true. At least four tv stations covered it. I had a press person assigned to usher me around for the different interviews. We got three and a half stars in the Boston Globe. Tremendous coverage, thanks to the local “stars”, David Brudnoy and Belynda Dunn. Actually they are all stars in my book. For the final screening at 3pm Carole, Belynda, David and Lisa Hirshhorn, Anibal and Carole’s doctor, and myself, participated in a panel infront of the sellout crowd. Family, neighbors, people I went to high school with all showed up. Family members from Joe and Anibal and all the other cast members were there. The Garcia’s were the only ones absent. Matilde’s phone was disconnected and I couldn’t reach her. I told her about a month before but I think she was mad at me because I didn’t shoot

David Brudnoy, Belynda Dunn and Carole Miselman, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
David Brudnoy, Belynda Dunn and Carole Miselman, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

Carmen’s sweet 16 party in October. She asked me to come up from New York to shoot it. I would have loved to but I had a film festival to go to that weekend. I have never heard from her again. I know someone that knows someone that knows her and I hear she is well. I only hope the best for her. She has also lost contact with Belynda and her best friend Iris. Anyway, the screening, panel and reception afterward was really spectacular. I was so proud. Carole and Michael are doing great. They have really turned a corner in their relationship and are more in love than ever before. Belynda is leaving for Pittsburgh tomorrow for a liver transplant. It’s the only place they perform liver transplants on people with HIV/AIDS. She is so weak and sick. They brought her directly from the hospital to the museum. When asked how she felt, she said into the microphone, “I feel like shit.” The audience literally applauded her honesty. You gotta love this woman. Actually they gave us a standing ovation at the end. It was pretty tremendous. Bruds brought his new “friend”. He makes him so happy. It’s a real delight to see. He is doing really well and looks 10 years younger because of the new beau. Later that night, my friend’s, Jane and Dana Lanzillo assembled some old high school friends for a sumptuous dinner at their house in Newton. It was one of the most memorable days I have ever had.

01/01/02
We spent New Years Eve at Ground Zero in the Salvation Army truck driving around delivering coffee and food to all the rescue workers. It was 10 degrees and felt like 20 below. The highlight was a mass next to the pit at 11:45pm. About 50 policemen, firemen, other workers and volunteers, and of course, a priest celebrated a mass. I could not think of a better way to leave 2001 and usher in 2002. Again, it was another life moment, one that I will always cherish. By the way, Belynda is #2 on the recipient list to get a liver.

03/13/02
Belynda Dunn dies after her second liver transplant.  She was 51.

12/09/04
David Brudnoy dies of complications from skin cancer.  He was 64.

01/29/06
Matilde Garcia dies from complications from AIDS.  According to the MA death records she was 43.  We have no word on her children, Cristoba, Simon and Carmen Garcia.  If you have any information on their whereabouts, please contact me at corcoran.jay@gmail.com.

03/28/13
As of this writing, Carole Miselman is the only survivor from the film.  She is divorced from her husband, Michael, and is living in Massachusetts.  We still welcome any information on the Garcia children. Thank you for your interest in Undetectable.

Resources

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Independent Film Distribution Channels

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  • BBB Wise Giving AllianceAn ethical marketplace where buyers and sellers can trust each other.
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Fellowships

  • Acumen Fellows: Year-long fellowship with eight weeks of intensive and multidisciplinary leadership training in New York City.
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  • Enterprising IdeasFunding ideas for your project from this PBS site.
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  • Open Society Institute — OSI & the Soros Foundation Network website with information on fellowships, scholarships and grants.

Jobs

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  • Nonprofit Career Network: One-step resource center for non-profit job search.

Keep Current on Film/Media/Technology/Entrepreneurship/VC

  • AVCUnion Square Ventures Principal, Fred Wilson’s VC musings of his New York life.
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  • Deadline Hollywood: Hollywood insider blog.
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  • Indiewire: Online resource and community for independent filmmakers.
  • No Mercy No Malice: Pivot’s Scott Galloway essential tech blog.
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  • TechCrunch: Technology start-ups, particularly the Web 2.0 sector.
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Contact

Services

For more than 15 years Corcoran Productions has been dedicated to creating video content that heightens awareness about new and challenging situations around the globe. From entrepreneurship in Tanzania, to focusing on AIDS and addiction in the US to building school libraries in Afghanistan, there is always a story or situation that needs to be exposed in a honest manner. We believe people are meant to help each other. Video or digital content is one of the most powerful tools to make people aware of one another’s circumstances. With this new found awareness we believe people might choose to take actions that can lead to improving the lives of others.

How Corcoran Productions can help you

Jay Corcoran

Produce: From the germ of an idea to the finished product, Corcoran Productions will work with you every step of the way. From shaping the story, to shooting and editing we will provide you with video content for your presentation, website or other media needs. Whether your content is a 60-second “welcome” on your website to an on-going webisode or a 30-minute project to complement your seminar or presentation we are at your service to provide you with meaningful content that will resonate with your audience.

Shoot: Have a “behind-the-scenes” project you want documented and share short segments as part of your social media campaign? We can shoot it for you and edit your story into brief topic-specific video segments to engage your audience and archive on your website.

Edit: We will edit and organize what we shoot, or review your pre-existing video material and help you develop a succinct story.

Manage: Your video content in various hosting sites like vimeo, youtube or kaltura. We will also work with you on a web series and help you with text and choosing the best photograph or audio selections to complement your multimedia experience.

Economize: Our small teams of one or two people provide a reasonable solution to your video needs. Our fearless crew has experience in working in areas of conflict and the developing world, as well as covering many business stories in New York City. Our one-person bands are trained journalists that can ask the right questions, shoot, edit and package your story in a timely fashion. The one-person bands or small crew is an added plus for capturing intimate moments often missed by a large crew.