Saturday, September 13, 2014

A new Phineas Gage movie

Today marks the 166th anniversary of Phineas Gage's horrific accident while working on a railroad crew in Cavendish, Vermont. I am sure you are all familiar with what happened that day, and if you are a longtime reader of the blog, surely you know that I am a wee bit obsessed with this story.

I am delighted to learn of the new movie Gage, which focuses on the interactions between Gage and his physician, Dr. John Martyn Harlow. I contacted co-producer Alyssa Roehrenbeck to learn more about the film, and this is what she shared with me:
The film really focuses on the relationship between Phineas and his Doctor, and showcases how Dr. Harlow sees the world reacting to Phineas (now that he is no longer Phineas according to society). Instead of focusing on changes in Phineas per se, it depicts the change in attitude towards him ... We've tried to remain as factually true to the real story of Gage as we can, but also know that in order to make a film, there has to be a "story" - so we've worked to imagine the relationship with Harlow and how that came to be and flourished, as well as how Gage may or may not have behaved after the accident. 

What makes this even more fascinating to me is that Roehrenbeck told me that director Keith Wilhelm Kopp is an Army veteran, and is focusing on the story of Phineas Gage as a victim of a traumatic brain injury as many modern day soldiers are. Kopp was inspired by witnessing some of his buddies in similar circumstances as Gage. And this is where the story takes a more interesting turn:
Ultimately, we are looking for the funding to take the film we already have and add to it with interviews from neuroscientists, psychologists and soldiers returning from the middle east to make a docu-drama about traumatic brain injury... Interestingly, we were sponsored by the United States Veteran's Artist Alliance ( and wound up with over 50% of cast and crew also being veterans. We'd love to air the docu-drama on Discovery Channel, BBC, or even PBS.  We are in works to plan other screenings at colleges in the UK and the states, and also have several film festival submissions in, and are just waiting to hear if we got in. 
Below is the film's trailer (or use this Vimeo link), then share your thoughts in the comments below. For more information the film's Facebook page. Thanks to Alyssa Roehrenbeck for sharing this information with me, and to Keith Wilhelm Kopp for making this film.

GAGE TRAILER from Mike Marchlewski on Vimeo.

--posted by Steve


Alyssa Roehrenbeck said...

Wow, cool. Thanks for sharing Steve!

Ms. Shaver said...

I really hope they find the funding to continue with this project!

Anonymous said...

I hope this develops into a full film. I teach Academic Psychology and this would be perfect for my students.

Arnaud Talaia said...

I'm prepping a feature script about Gage which will play a different tune within the constraints of what is historically known about Gage's life. You mentioned you are quite obsessed by this story.. Would you have a list of movies made about him ? I'm gathering everything I can as source material, if you can help I'd be happy to write a kickass script you would delight in ;-)
You can get in contact with me by writing me a mail to arnaudlimitgmailcom
Thanks in advance for any help however little !

Flora Imogen said...

Is this still in funding?
It looks excellent

Steve Jones said...

Looks like you can view it here!