‘For Love & Life: No Ordinary Campaign’ Subjects Brian Wallach, Sandra Abrevaya and Producers Talk About Being ‘Completely Vulnerable’ While Documenting Life With ALS

‘For Love & Life: No Ordinary Campaign’ Subjects Brian Wallach, Sandra Abrevaya and Producers Talk About Being ‘Completely Vulnerable’ While Documenting Life With ALS

After Brian Wallach was diagnosed with ALS at 37, he and his wife Sandra Abrevaya founded a nonprofit organization to provide support to others diagnosed with the nervous system disease. Their documentary, “For Love & Life: No Ordinary Campaign,” follows Wallach and Abrevaya’s journey to founding the nonprofit I AM ALS, which seeks to empower and mobilize patients, engage with policy-makers, and offer vital resources for people impacted by ALS.

The two, who also served as executive producers on the film, spoke at a panel about their journey creating the film. The panel, which was part of the Variety FYC Streaming Room presented by Prime Video, also featured director and producer Christopher Burke, producer Tim Rummel, and executive producers Phil Rosenthal and Jeff MacGregor. Katie Couric, who also executive produced the film, moderated the discussion.

Couric said one Sunday afternoon, she was scrolling through her phone when she saw an article from Politico about Wallach and Abrevaya that mentioned their story was being developed into a documentary. She later directly messaged the author of the article, Sam Stein, and stated she would want to help in any way she could and be involved.

Burke was friends with Wallach in college and called working on the project “the absolute honor of a lifetime.” Together, they planned the minute-long launch spot for the I AM ALS website, but Burke felt that their story deserved a longer format.

“What you see them going through, this is not fake,” Burke said. “This is not a movie. This is their lives. And these are the lives of all the other families that you saw in there too. Everybody is fighting so hard, to reference the title, for the people that they love and to have more life with them.”

Abrevaya said that before filming the documentary, she and Wallach decided that they would be completely vulnerable and open their lives to the public.

“It’s just very hard to show people how painful this is, but I knew how important, ultimately, it would be for everyone to see both the joy and the laughter that you can find in the darkest times and also what it feels like to cry on the kitchen floor in total agony because it is so hard to be a caregiver,” Abrevaya said. “There are so many caregivers that need to see someone else living truthfully with that pain and feel seen.”

She continued to explain that the most inspiring thing about the movie is that people see it and understand what one person can do, and the power that everyone has.

Wallach said the movie will speak to everyone, not just people who have a connection to ALS, firstly because of the love story between him and his wife. And secondly: “I have been amazed at how many people, who do not have a connection to ALS, who have come up to me after the movie and said, ‘Thank you for inspiring me. I’m ready to make good trouble.'”

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.