Diagnosed with ALS, N.J. filmmaker turns camera on himself

November 16, 2015 - als

Sayreville local Patrick O’Brien was 30 years aged — an determined filmmaker with an epitome reason and complicated influences from New York City’s soap-box stage who went by a name DJ TransFatty — when he was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

A camera was there in a sanatorium room to constraint a terminal diagnosis. 

“How prolonged do we got, doc?” O’Brien asks as his confused family looks on. 

That was in 2005. Later this month, a new documentary will be expelled on demand, charity an memorable mural of a depot illness and one artist’s decade-long onslaught to cope with a stipulations and a judgment over a past 10 years. 

“A lot of people have asked me what it’s like to find out you’re going to die,” says O’Brien, a writer, director, anecdotist and theme of “TransFatty Lives.” “It sucks.”

O’Brien aims for hilarity, instead of self-pity. He remains resilient even as a disease, a neurodegenerative disorder, solemnly robs him of his physique — “I could be an general seducer on a respirator, still?” In a initial scene, he can't travel though a cane; afterwards he can't travel during all; by a end, he can't speak and is roughly totally paralyzed. 

His artist’s mind carries on, however, in a prohibited pinkish walls of his sanatorium room; a semi-nude demonstrations outward a White House to lift ALS awareness; though generally in a film itself, that he destined by typing out instructions to his editors on a appurtenance that marks a transformation of his eyeballs. 

“As my therapist would say, it’s note by shotgun. In a uncanny way, it’s exciting,” O’Brien says in a film. 

In 2005, O’Brien was given dual to 5 years to live. He now resides during a long-term caring core in Massachusetts. 

OPINION: Never give adult a quarrel opposite Lou Gehrig’s disease

The film is already earning accolades on a festival circuit, many recently winning an assembly endowment during a TriBeCa Film Festival. It will be accessible on demand on Nov. 20, and will also have showings in New York City in late December. 

Born in Edison in 1974, O’Brien was lifted in Maryland. He went to film propagandize in New York while vital in Sayreville, where his father is a mayor.

O’Brien’s early filmmaking forays enclosed such titles as “The Man with a Smallest Penis in Existence and a Electron Microscope Technician Who Loved Him” and “Suicidal Eggplant,” that won initial esteem during a New Jersey Young Filmmakers Festival in 1994. That common clarity of amusement and a louche lifestyle lift on; one promotional print for a film features a sketch of someone pouring a bottle of drink into O’Brien’s feeding tube. 

O’Brien’s father, Kennedy, plays a distinguished purpose in a film, as does Patrick’s possess son, now 7 years old.

Cameras are rolling as Kennedy helps Patrick into a shower, only as they’re rolling when Patrick meets baby Sean for a initial time. By a time Sean is home from a hospital, Patrick can’t pierce his arms to reason his son. 

“To me, my son is an button of Sayreville, and Sayreville is an button of my son,” pronounced Kennedy O’Brien. “In Sayreville, we get knocked down, we hit a dirt off your pants, and we get behind up.”

In TransFatty Lives’ darkest moments, O’Brien is grieving in a Maryland nursing home and has small hit with his son. And nonetheless they’ve done it work, Kennedy O’Brien said, with visits and Skype.

“He loves his father, and his father loves him,” Kennedy pronounced of his grandson and son. 

From a immature age, Patrick had wanted to be a filmmaker. He was during work on a plan about a Howard Johnson’s grill in Asbury Park when he initial beheld a symptoms of amyotrophic parallel sclerosis. The theme altered and a camera swung around. 

“What if it’s indeed a beautiful disease?” O’Brien narrates. “What if a some-more physically infirm we become, is inversely proportional to my tour inward?”


Brian Amaral might be reached at bamaral@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @bamaral44. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

source ⦿ http://www.nj.com/middlesex/index.ssf/2015/11/nj_natives_unflinching_look_at_als_earns_awards.html

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