For Zach Jankovic, Parkinsonís had always been a part of his lifeóbut not in the way you might expect. Until recently, he hadnít personally met many people with PD.
Zachís connection to Parkinsonís was through his father, Joseph Jankovic, MD. A professor of neurology, Dr. Jankovic is the director of the Parkinsonís Disease Center and Movement Disorders Clinic at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He is also a member of The Michael J. Fox Foundationís Scientific Advisory Board. Now a film school graduate, Zach recalls, ďI first learned how to edit watching my mom edit footage documenting the symptoms of my dadís PD patients.Ē
With an early interest in Parkinsonís, Zach chose to explore how film could raise awareness around Parkinsonís and serve to tell peopleís stories. For the past two years, heís been working on The Astronautís Secret, documenting the life of Rich Cliffordóa NASA astronaut who kept his Parkinsonís secret for 17 years but has since become an advocate for participating in clinical research.
Zach has also partnered with the Houston Area Parkinson Society (HAPS),†an independent patient support organization,†on another video project. He just wrapped up production on a short film, ďI Am The Face of Parkinsonís,Ē which HAPS submitted to the 2013 World Parkinson Congress Video Competition.
ďThrough a tapestry of different perspectives, we wanted to capture what itís like to live with PD,Ē says Zach. In one long day of filming, he interviewed 14 people with Parkinsonís. But the interviews were the easy part, he says. The challenge was paring it down to three-and-a-half minutes. ďEach person found their own way to deal with the disease, handling it with courage and grace. I wished I could include everyone. But I now better understand what my dad sees each day with his patients,Ē he says.
Although Zachís familiarity with Parkinsonís had initially been more scientific, he has come to know the many faces of the disease. ďIím even more inspired to help find a cure,Ē he says. ďI only hope by sharing these stories, we can help inspire others to take action.Ē