Four years ago, my mom and I stood in her home office with my 29-year-old younger brother’s will in our hands. We tried to find the strength to accept that, despite every effort and prayer, Daniel was dying in the next room.
Daniel was a filmmaker, a world traveler and a true adventurer. It was his life’s mission to help others feel the same level of interconnectivity with nature, humanity and all living things that he did.
Daniel had written his will 10 months earlier, shortly after he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Acute Myeloid Leukemia. As we read through it, my mom and I noticed that he'd left me the film he had dedicated over 10 years of his life to creating. He explicitly asked me to oversee its completion — a deeply touching request.
Though an honor, the film ultimately weighed heavy on top of the burden I felt following my brother's passing. I was not a filmmaker in any respect — I owned a nanny agency. How would I ever get over losing my little brother and make his film?
Months passed and people began to ask me if I really planned on completing Daniel's project. I would smile and say, “Of course” as I tried to cover up the growing pressure and resistance I was feeling.
This resistance stemmed from the daunting screenings of a 40-minute sketch film my brother made a few months before his death. Footage of him healthy, alive and brilliant was screened alongside footage from his last year where his sunken-in eyes spoke of his painful hospital stays. It was incredibly painful to watch.
At the time, I was seeing a gifted spiritual counselor and bodyworker once a week. She was able to pick me back up again after the initial screenings with various prospective creative partners in Vancouver and Los Angeles. It was with her help that I found the strength to follow through with what I call a “soul contract” with my brother.
Many other people have also supported me along the way, and I often hear things like, “Your brother was so lucky to have had a sister like you” or ‘It’s amazing what you’re doing to honor your brother's memory."
It’s wonderful to be supported like this, but I have always known that everything I've done for Daniel is also very much for me. The way my brother has allowed me to be there for him has been the real gift.
Enduring grief and loss has been made easier with the knowledge that I've done everything I could to be there for Daniel, even during his last breath. I know that I have not, and will not, let him down — a fact that's helped me carry on with my life and let myself to feel joy again.
My life has completely changed since I started working on my brother's film. I've given up my business and moved from Vancouver to California. I’ve welcomed my first child, and I've had to hand him off to a part-time caregiver much sooner than I would have liked to free up time for the project. However, the inner growth that this journey has afforded me makes it all worth it.
I was initially hesitant to ask others for help. But once I finally did, I was able to connect with people who led me right to my production company, Elevate Films.
Once I got there, I still felt embarrassed to ask people for help again; this time to find funding for the film production. When the idea of crowd-funding came about, I was shy to show my face for all to see and ask strangers for financial support.
Then it occurred to me that Daniel had been making this film to unite the world. His mission was to bring us all together, so why not ask the world to help me bring his dream to life?
My brother would be thrilled to see that people from over 70 countries have already joined me to make this film happen. It gives me peace to to think this experience has been about the ripple effect Daniel wanted us all to see.
And now, the resulting film will be a stunning example of what we can create when we unify.
If you’d like to join Erin and the Be Brave Movie team in bringing this life-changing film to the world and see the movie trailer visit www.bebravemovie.com
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