Omar and I have been like family for over 20 years, but there’s always been an unwelcome third party involved in our dynamic: a painful and often misunderstood blood disease, found mainly in the black community, called Sickle Cell. Beyond chronicling the substantial impact Omar’s illness has had on our friendship, this feature-length documentary strives to expose what many people living with Sickle Cell here in America have to deal with – harsh realities that often extend beyond the significant physical impact of the disease itself.
Imagine you accidentally spill a pot of boiling hot water on yourself and suffer third degree burns. You go to the emergency room in desperate need of treatment, but the staff there doubts you’re even hurt. They leave you in the waiting room, in excruciating pain, while people with less severe issues continue to cycle through ahead of you. In agony, you have to somehow convince them of the treatment you need.
Our goal is to raise awareness about the disease through the lens of our close friendship and take steps towards eliminating that stigma. A little informed perspective in the hands of a caregiver can go a long way.
Omar is someone I’ve always held in high esteem. He’s an extremely intelligent guy. He’s an even-tempered guy. He’s a funny guy. He has penmanship that I’ve envied for as long as I can remember. His advice and perspective have guided me through countless personal challenges both big and small. In all the time that I’ve known him, I can’t recall him making a single enemy. And despite all of that, despite the good that Omar has brought to my life and to others around him, I’ve wasted time resenting the disease for being in the way of all he could have accomplished and all that he could have become. You can cry over spilled milk or embrace what you have. Spilled Milk is our reminder of that and it’s the title that Omar and I arrived at together.
We captured our first video for Spilled Milk during Thanksgiving of 2012 in Stockbridge, Georgia. Since then, we’ve collected, logged and organized over 60 hours of footage by speaking with close friends, family, and some of the leading minds in Sickle Cell care.
Jaqai Mickelsen | director, writer, executive producer, editor
Jaqai Mickelsen is a longtime professional graphic artist and cartoon illustrator. Most recently he served as Creative Director of The Marcus Buckingham Company, the bestselling author’s management and consulting firm in Beverly Hills, California. Working closely with Marcus himself as part of the executive team, he was a key contributor to the firm’s overall business strategy and had a hand in creating the visual aesthetic for everything from training workbooks to high-profile videos. After five years of learning and thriving with the TMBC team, Jaqai made the very daunting decision to leave his position and pursue making this film.
Omar Beach | producer
Spilled Milk is a member of Creative Visions' Creative Activist Program. Creative Visions is a publicly supported 501©3, which supports Creative Activists who use the power of media and the arts to affect positive change in the world.
Up to now this project has been 100% self funded. Expenses have included travel costs for interviews, numerous equipment, software and hardware needs, production insurance, LLC and other tax-related service costs, occasional production crew payroll, and ultimately moving my family cross-country from Los Angeles to Atlanta to be closer to Omar – the heart and soul of the documentary.
While my savings account has gotten us this far, the time has come to add committed resources that will turbo-charge the production process and ensure that we finish our film before year’s end.
First and foremost, I am looking to engage and work with an experienced full-time editor whose primary focus will be this project. We’d then like to hire a camera crew to spend two or three days with Omar and me, and there are three high-profile interviews we’re still hoping to capture – all of which require travel and additional resources. The final steps of the production process will be color correction, audio mastering, and close captioning.
This is a project of passion and one that’s very important to us. We still have a long way to go, but with help I’m confident we can make a genuine difference.