A 1990’s small, southern, seedy town, where man is king and woman an after-thought. Kate falls victim to the underbelly of her world after the only person keeping it at bay, her boyfriend Jude, mysteriously vanishes. With both time and justice set against her, it’s a battle for answers — and ultimately, her life.
Directed by Matthew Underwood
Written by Matthew Underwood and Beta Angarole
Produced by Kirk Slawek, Loren Hughes, Matthew Underwood, Beta Angarole, and John Matysiak
Executive Producer Kirk Slawek
Production House GearSeven Creative
Director of Photography John Matysiak
Editor Zach Prichard
Original Score BitLordz
Production Design Street Noise
Sound Design and Editor Jeremiah Nave
East Coast Mobile Recording
Colorist Jimmy Cadenas
Visual FX Joel Robertson
Hair and Make-up Design Brie Beckman
1st AC Geoff Storts
2nd AC Diego Cacho
Additional Camera Support Aaron Seldon
Production Sound Mixer Jeremiah Nave
Gaffer Scott Phelps
Best Boy Ben Liden
Rigging Gaffer Colin Noel
Key Grip #1 Tyler Buchholz
Key Grip #2 Giancarlo Curzi
Grip Lucious Patenaude
Grip Zach Scruggs
Grip Mike Beatty
Production Assistant Lauren Weber
Stunt Choreographer and Weapons Safety Sam Willey
BTS Ryan Camp
BTS Colin Garcia
1st AC Nathan Thompson
2nd AC Nick Ingram
Key Grip Tyler Buchholz
Grip Jason Hassell
Production Assistant John Spencer
Production Assistant Jamie Morales
Filmed on location in Nashville, Tennessee
Mike Mitchell was just 15 years old when he was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare muscular cancer. Over the course of almost 4 years, Mike endured multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. A fierce athlete and competitor, Mike’s love for sports served as a fuel. Not only did he fight the cancer, he continued to play sports, even in his treatment.
You would expect that a boy undergoing chemotherapy would never set foot on a basketball court, much less play at a competitive level. Through a mutual friend, I heard just a snippet of his story, and it never left my mind. Finally, I asked to meet Mike to hear more. We sat in a park outside of Nashville on a balmy summer day, along with his girlfriend. He was kind and humble, and if I hadn’t known, I would have never guessed that he was just wrapping up his most recent round of chemotherapy. We spent most of our time talking football and basketball. He didn’t like talking about his cancer, mainly because he didn’t want people to feel sorry for him, or to treat him any differently. I was floored by his positive outlook, his will to play sports, and his determination to keep his body in shape, even while undergoing rigorous treatment.
So, of course, I wanted to tell his story. And somehow, amazingly, he trusted me with it. I knew from the get-go that I wanted to capture his competitive and determined spirit, through the context of his love for sports.
With the help of an amazing team, we began production. First concepting, writing, and then finally filming. I was introduced to Steve Johnson, who became the absolute champion of this project. He was instrumental in connecting us to all the right people. His unconditional love for Mike was a thing of beauty. We filmed a handful of days with Mike, and several with his closest friends and family.
We had shot about 80% of our story when I got the call: it was like ice in my veins. Mike had been having back pains, which had become increasingly severe in a short period of time. He had been hospitalized, and the doctors were certain as to the source… It was less than a week later that I sat with him, in his hospital room, and handed him an iPad, where we watched a rough cut. That was the last time I talked to Mike Mitchell. Less than 2 weeks later, he left this world.
I had no idea what to do at that point, no idea what story to tell. It was all too fresh, too intense. A fresh set of eyes and a fresh dose of passion from our eventual editor, Sean Dave´, was exactly what it needed. Once we had a rough assembly cut, the inspiration was back and we were charging through the edit process.
On March 16th, 2016, we premiered the film to Mike’s friends and family, at the church he had attended. There were over 400 people in the audience, all with one thing in common: respect and admiration for Mike Mitchell.
This is a glimpse into his story, his unwavering character, and his unstoppable attitude. This is Mike Mitchell.
Production: GearSeven Creative
Director: Matthew Underwood
Producer: Connor Carroll
Executive Producer: Kirk Slawek
Cinematography: Colin Noel, John Matysiak, Matthew Underwood, Kirk Slawek, and Connor Carroll
Editor: Sean Dave´
Additional Gaffing: Sam Willey
Original Score: Connor Carroll and David Brubaker
It’s no secret that building a career of any kind is infinitely challenging and rewarding, and takes a great amount of sacrifice and balance. Endless nights and weekends spent furthering the craft is a theme shared by so many people in countless industries. “While You Were Sleeping” is a series that takes a closer look at that process, and the inherent struggles it brings. I’m grateful for Adam Hall’s vulnerability, and hope that this conversation brings insight and comfort to all those who are on this journey, no matter how far along they may be.
Check out Adam's incredible work here: adamhallart.com
Director / Editor: Matthew Underwood
Director of Photography: Carson Nyquist
Composer: Joël Charboneau