Moral Distress in PICU Teams update

With the production expertise of The Idea Factory and director Peter Conradi, and the financial support of a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, my film adaptation of the play Just Keep Breathing is ready for release. The film has already been presented at conferences in Turkey and Brazil and the Canadian launch is anticipated this fall.

Adapting the play to a suitable screen format was a challenge. The decision to be realistic meant we would require more actors. Another decision was to reduce the length of the script so it could potentially fit a one-hour commercial television format. A two-act play with a total 90 minute span (75 minutes with a 15-minute intermission) had to be reduced to 48 minutes and still retain the essential research points. That meant selecting elements that would express the typology of moral distress narratives and the array of coping/resolution mechanisms.

While it was not possible to shoehorn everything into the abbreviated version, the additional impact of an actual PICU unit setting (courtesy of a training facility) adds an element of verisimilitude lacking in the stage version. While I have written for film and television before, this is the first time I have adapted my own stage play to a different format.

Eventually I had to let go of my desire to see the play itself on film – an easy decision once we chose to abbreviate the material.

As a tool for provoking discussion, the film is excellent. Does that mean it is perfect? No – but everyone managed near-miracles on a tiny budget, and I am grateful for the amount we were able to capture.

About Timothy Anderson

Timothy J. Anderson has taught many courses at MacEwan: Project Lead (PROW140), Distilled Prose (PROW202), Foundations of Composition/Grammar for Writers (PROW100), and Advanced Business Writing (PROW210). His academic credentials include undergraduate degrees in journalism/political science (Carleton) and music (Ottawa) and an MFA (UBC). He also has certificates in voluntary sector management (York) and music theatre (Banff Centre). Mr. Anderson has worked as a freelance writer with Wooden Door & Associates since 1992. From 1994 to 2005 he was an editor/publisher at The Books Collective literary publishing house. His own creative work includes many published short works, two published books, and more than a dozen professionally-produced works for the stage. Mr. Anderson has been writer-in-residence with the Canadian Opera Company (1988/89) and an instructor for various writing programs, such as YouthWrite. A parallel career as a performer (actor and classical baritone) has included engagements in locations as diverse as Singapore, Yellowknife, and Pigeon Forge. He has performed with opera companies, orchestras, and musical theatre companies. His credits include the original Canadian cast of Phantom of the Opera in Toronto, Archibald Craven in the Canadian premiere of The Secret Garden, the Far East tour of Phantom, and appearances in lyric and non-lyric theatre for regional and local companies.
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