Connecticut-based photographer Christopher Beauchamp recently called it a wrap on his first feature film as director of photography. Shot over the course of two years, Until 20 is a captivating story about the inspirational life of Texas native James Ragan who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at the age of 13. The film is unique in that the directors chose to allow James to tell his story in his own voice. Despite his diagnosis with an incurable disease, James emerges as a selfless role model hosting toga parties to raise money for a foundation he started with his sister, Triumph Over Kid Cancer. The team traveled to Texas frequently to shoot interviews with James and his family, friends and doctors—filming in his home, at his college campus and even going with him to the emergency room and his chemotherapy sessions.
This was an intensely emotional story. I’ve worked on challenging projects before this but never so in-depth, always a little removed and at a safer distance. In this case I was living with the Ragans, even if only for brief periods. Waking up with them, eating with them, receiving test results with them, rushing to the ER in the middle of the night with them. I think it would be impossible to not become invested emotionally on some level … Just spending time in a pediatric cancer unit is really challenging, I fostered a huge level of respect for everyone there who gets up everyday and makes that their job to help those kids. And likewise for me it was important to be able to just shift focus and concentrate on getting the job done.
Chris first got involved with the project when director and producer Jamila Paksima, whom he’s worked with in the past, called him up one day, told him about James and asked if he’d be interested in coming down to Texas to shoot, despite the fact that they had little-to-no money for the film.
Unlike a typical project where you can preplan where you are going to end up, James’ story was already unfolding, so the team had no choice but to dive in and figure it out as they went along.
Making a feature film is a monumental challenge at every turn. But In terms of the actual filming, everyone involved in the production lived in the Northeast and our story was taking place in Texas. Coupled with the fact that we all have other projects/clients/responsibilities to attend to simultaneously and James’ health condition always being in a state of flux, so it was a constant juggling act figuring out when we should be in Texas filming. We couldn’t possibly film everything so we really had to prioritize.
Until 20 is having its world premiere on October 30th at the Austin Film Festival. To learn more about the film, visit until20.com.
Watch the trailer below:
To see more of Chris’ work, visit christopherbeauchamp.com.