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Ryan Prior: "Our Hearts, Swollen With Stories"


Fine, thank you
Wow, they went through a lot we didn't know about to make Forgotten Plague...

Ryan Prior said:
As a filmmaker, entrepreneur, and journalist, I feel I’ve had a lifetime’s worth of fascinating experiences since I’ve graduated from college.

I’ve been invited to speak coast-to-coast from the National Press Club to Stanford Medical School. My film, Forgotten Plague, which tells the story of a disease called myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) has been hailed a “Must-See Documentary” by The Huffington Post. Each week I might be meeting a U.S. Senator, talking to world-renowned scientists, meeting with CDC officials, or speaking on the radio. But most of what I’m sharing on social media only represents half the story.

Beneath that thin façade of success, there is a much more sinister and grim reality that my team and I live with every day, plagued by the universal notion that there is no magical formula for success other than hustle, 12-14-hour days, and knowing the greatest success in any early business is to fight hard enough so that the organization survives at all. The bad days, of which there are many, are best left forgotten, and the failures are never Instagrammed.

This isn’t out of vanity, but rather a survival instinct.

The only way to get more funding for our film production was to cultivate an image of success and not report to our donors how often we come within a hair’s breadth of failure. Some days it’s the specter of IRS late fees, other days it’s a disastrous contract negotiation, still other days it’s the threat of a global boycott of our film for some perceived slight we committed. I know each week to expect some new challenge that could torpedo our company.

This is the story of perhaps our most dire day: February 21, 2014, when we were filming our documentary in Boston, a thousand miles from home. That day it wasn’t just our film or our company on the line.

My co-director, Nicole Castillo, and I felt like our very lives were in jeopardy....

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