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U2FP's Blog > Keeping you current on the movement to cure paralysis

SUBMERGED Awarded Funding and Distribution on Public Television by Leader in Documentary Film World

First off, a brief note on this crazy coronavirus situation. I hope everybody is safe and sound...and still sane. I know many of us aren’t strangers to the great indoors, so we got that goin’ for us!

And you thought being alone, staring out the window wouldn’t come in handy? This whole time you were just becoming a pro at “social distancing.” Yaaaaaaay…

Anyway, more on that later. Seriously though, remember:

  • You are not alone. Everyone is dealing with fear, loss and doubt in their own way. We’re all in this together. So please, 
  • Don’t hesitate to talk about your struggles and ask for help. And also, don’t forget that 
  • You are one of the helpers as well. We all have something to contribute, because we are all valuable beings who can bring positivity, someway, somehow, when it’s needed most. 

With that disclaimer, I thought I’d share some much-needed GOOD news during this crazy time. Here goes…

Back in July, SUBMERGED was 1 of over 300 films to apply for funding by ITVS Open Call.

In November, I received an unforgettable phone call: SUBMERGED was 1 of only 7 films green-lit for funding! (Only 2%!)

And now, having just received my contract in the mail this week, it’s finally official: we have been awarded funding!!

What is ITVS Open Call?
Open Call gives independent filmmakers up to $350,000 to complete production for a standalone broadcast length documentary to air on public television.

Since 1991, ITVS has funded 533 Open Call programs, including the most recent Oscar-nominated film, Minding the Gap.

They have proven to be a leading advocate and pillar for the documentary film community, guiding groundbreaking documentary films that teach us, lift us and change us.

What does this mean?
Open Call opens up many opportunities - the biggest being that this funding allows us to finish this film and bring it to a public broadcasting platform. Such a privilege!

Our film, SUBMERGED, has been on quite the journey over the past three years, as have I. It has taken the reins, telling me where it needs to go and urging me to follow it. I’ve learned so much as I’ve done my best to listen to its demands - sometimes with much difficulty.

But I’m glad I trusted the story, and grateful that so many supporters, including you and U2FP, have trusted and supported us, because here we are, standing on a huge milestone within this process.

Since the closing of this last decade, I felt a new momentum and energy surrounding both this film and the effort for a cure; a change in the air. Over the last 7 ½ years in the chair, I’ve been:

  • Ms. Wheelchair Minnesota, 
  • On the board of Get Up Stand Up to Cure Paralysis
  • Interviewed countless researchers
  • Been to Working 2 Walk a few times
  • Seen almost $12M in SCI curative research bills passed by U2FP’s Cure Advocacy Network 
  • Started writing for U2FP
  • Choreographed and co-directed A Cripple’s Dance
  • And now watched as news headlines have changed- - simultaneously filling me with frustration and hope

So I guess it’s not just one thing, but rather it’s the whole narrative changing that fills me with hope, and a well of ideas to put into action. Something feels different. WE as an SCI community feel different- - more united, connected, educated, dare I say, inspired?

I started writing this newsletter over a month ago. Reading it again, I’m struck by my own words that now have me wondering: what will the consequences of the Coronavirus be on our effort for a cure?

Some will be negative, no doubt, and we need to be ready to answer the blows. But what do we have to gain? How can this pandemic teach us to be better? Will it reveal our weaknesses? Will it bring opportunities to the forefront?

We have some new work to do. We have some investigating to do.

Just like U2FP’s Cure Advocacy Network efforts, my filmmaking process has been a grassroots effort through and through. I feel as though we’ve had a family of supporters, from day one, of cherished old friends and unexpected new gems as well.

You have all kept us going, truly.

And although it may seem far away, we expect and are excited to see this film reach picture-lock in March 2021. From there? Summer/Fall festival submissions and then a theatrical release to follow. We realize this seems like a long process, and I'm sure you're asking ...

Why have you been working on this film for so long and when will it be done? 

Believe me, I get it, it’s an arduous process. The average first-time filmmaker takes 5 years to complete their film. Just to put this in perspective, we met one filmmaker who pushed their project forward for 12 years!

There are a lot of details, funding issues, pressures, unforeseen obstacles and necessary steps that all come into play here, so please bear with us as we get our baby ready for the outside world. 

And PLEASE, subscribe to our website ( to meet our team, get involved, receive updates and details, and follow us further on our journey! We want to hear from you!

The filmmaking process, for me, is similar to the effort for a cure, it holds a renewed energy. And, as we all know, when you get those fortuitous waves, however daunting, you ride ‘em.

Thank you!