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 senior video producer at The Atlantic. More

Wells was formerly a producer of WNYC's Freakonomics Radio and NPR's Science Friday.

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