The Creative Process of a Paralyzed Screenwriter

A short documentary shows how Scott Lew, who has ALS, writes feature films.

It takes screenwriter Scott Lew—and a team of helpers—four hours to get from his bed to a computer where he can work. Lew has ALS, a degenerative disease that causes gradual loss of movement, and he can currently control only a few facial and eye muscles. He depends on infrared technology and an assistant to put his words to paper.

Director Chetin Chabuk followed Lew through the painstaking routine as he wrote the script for 2013’s Sexy Evil Genius, starring Seth Green and Michelle Trachtenberg. Chabuk’s documentary, Jujitsu-ing Reality, shows Lew’s determination to continue writing (and joking) through his illness.

“As you can imagine,” Chabuk wrote, “communicating with Scott takes time. He has a variety of ways of getting his words out, sometimes one letter at a time … I was really struck by how active his imagination ran and how much he had to say—and thus—how challenging it is for him in his condition to maintain his voice in the world.”

Jujitsu-ing Reality has been shortlisted for an Oscar this year. For more, visit http://jujitsuingreality.com/.

Katherine Wells is a video and radio producer based in New York, and a former senior video producer at The Atlantic.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Photos of New York City, in Motion

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this Big Apple flip book

Video

The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"

Video

This Japanese Inn Has Been Open For 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.

Video

What Happens Inside a Dying Mind?

Science cannot fully explain near-death experiences.

More in Video

Just In