Those who look after the healthcare system face a constant battle as a for-profit system, and this is a leading message Austin stark wants to do in his latest film, The God Committee, which follows a heartbreaking decision to place among five doctors when a donor heart unexpectedly arrives at a New York City hospital, and an organ transplant committee is due to meet within an hour to decide which of the three other patients deserve the heart that saves the life. I spoke with Stark about how the play Marc Saint-Germain resonated with him, the casting process and what he hopes audiences will gain from his film.
“I heard the story of a wealthy man from the Northeast who was very sick, and he basically bribed a hospital for a new organ, and I couldn’t believe it was possible in the United States.” , Stark remembers. âYears later, a few producers, Jonathan rubenstein and Ari Pinchot, had chosen a piece called “The God Committee”. They took it from me to make it, and I read it. This story came back hastily. I was also blown away by Mark’s play. I am using this as the basis for what its movie version is for adaptation. It’s quite different from the play, but the heart, no pun intended, of Mark’s work still beats in the film. “
With only one other film to his credit in 2015 The runner, Stark took his learned experiences from medical drama. “It certainly motivated me to want to be the writer on The God Committee and do the adaptation myself, “he said.” I feel like when you write a screenplay that you direct, and you live with it. In this case, it took me about nine months to write the screenplay. It’s anchored in you, and you see it in every shot, every moment. It gives you time to really live with it and meditate on it. It has helped me tremendously. Also on The runner, I worked with Nicolas Cage, Sarah Paulson, Peter Fonda, and a few other fantastic actors. They taught me a lot about working with actors in general because it was my first feature film as a director. I certainly brought this experience to The God Committee and work with Kelsey Grammer, Julia [Stiles], Coleman [Domingo], Jeanne [Garofalo], and all of our fantastic cast. “
It was an easy sell for Grammer not only because of the topic, but it also provided a challenge in a type of role he’s never played. âIt was interesting, because Kelsey was the first actor to sign and we sent him the script just to read it and let us know what we think about it, because one of the producers, Molly connor, had worked with him before, I just feel like Kelsey Grammer would be right, “Stark remembers.” So he read it, he called me and he really answered it. He thought it was very powerful, and he said to me: ‘There are a few different roles that I would definitely love to play, but I think it would be really interesting if I was a Boxer because just because I never did that before. I never played that [kind of] character. I don’t think people will expect it, and I hadn’t really thought about him for Boxer. I thought of him a little for Father Dunbar. I thought about it for a moment and I was like, ‘You know, you’re right. Let’s do it. ‘ He opened the ball. From there, Julia, I just think of the fantastic actress. We sent him a script and made him an offer. I hadn’t met her before. She read it, loved it and we met. That’s really what started this process. “
While The God Committee was filmed before the pandemic, Stark drew some strange similarities from his film to the current crisis. “What’s interesting, however, is that there are a lot of thematic parallels to the pandemic because this is a film about doctors making life and death decisions under extraordinary circumstances.” , did he declare. âAt the heart of the film is the question, is it justifiable to sacrifice a life for the greater good? Obviously, it is reminiscent of covid in various ways, from ventilators to hospital beds to who gets vaccinated first. . It’s very interesting because I think it’s going to become more relevant after COVID. I mean, we’re still there, but right now. “
Stark admitted that he had to make some dramatic changes to the room to fit the screen. âWhat happens in the game with the plot is very different,â he said. âWithout giving too many spoilers like the end of the movie, it’s completely the opposite. What I thought was interesting about Mark’s play was just his exploration. The most interesting was his exploration of ethical issues. is what I really used as a jump. There’s no need to adapt it. That’s what she experiences more than anything else. Mark’s play also takes place; I think 90% of that- This is in the boardroom; in my movie it’s probably more than 40%. out of Mark’s game. “
If there was one thing that Stark hopes people will get The God Committee is to be more proactive. âI hope more than anything else that this film will motivate more people to donate organs so that we can save lives,â he said. âIt’s really important. And we’re working with Donate Life. And because this film explores, it’s a love letter to the doctors who are struggling in this flawed system. It’s flawed because we need to. more people to donate. ” The God Committee by Vertical Entertainment, which also stars Dan Hedaya, come in certain theaters and on demand on July 2.