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Director's Message

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Saturday, February 25, 2017

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Director's Message

gustavo portrait website Many times when reading a book you think, "This would make an excellent film." This was the case when I read WAYS TO LIVE FOREVER for the first time - I saw it all clearly. At first I wondered, "Why?" What was so attractive about the narrative: a story of two boys dying of leukemia? It should have been a downbeat drama; instead, I found it quite the opposite as Sam's (the main character) voice followed me everywhere. A voice that spoke of illness and even death in an uplifting way. There was even a strange enthusiasm in it. The reaction of the parents was equally unpredictable.

So I read it again - this time with pen and paper, and without noticing it, I started to adapt it into a script. It was most unusual as it was so straight forward. It took me only five days when normally it would take weeks to adapt a similar work. I thought it wouldn't work - it was just too simple. Nevertheless, I decided to send it off for some critical comments from people I know and trust. Their reaction surprised me - all answered in the same positive way: "I cried from beginning to end and laughed too"; "I cried a lot - when can I see the film now?"; and "This is the best thing you have written." My reaction was right: It had touched and was touching others as it touched me. Soon afterwards, I started down the road of production, and companies and actors signed up.

One day in London, I sat with the script (not the book) and slowly, phrase by phrase, I began to understand what was so marvelous about the story. What Sally Nicholls created was something truly wonderful: that through the innocence and emotion of the dying children you wanted to be part of their story - of their dying. Sam becomes a part of us. You want to know about his life, his hopes, and dreams - in fact, his every minute because for him every one of them does count. Not just Sam, but every character in this story has something to show us. The questions the story asks, especially the "big" ones from the kids, are both entertaining and perhaps more importantly, necessary.

We intended to make a wonderful drama with moments of comedy and magic. A film shot in the North East of England with all its beautiful scenery but a film for everyone, everywhere. Who could not be touched by the heartfelt difficulties of teenagers fighting cancer but with all of their hopes and dreams still so much a part of them? We aimed to make it so special that people will want to watch this film again and again, and find as I have in adapting the book, the triumph that comes out of tragedy.

- Gustavo Ron, Director


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