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In the inspiring 60-minute documentary, A SPARK OF NERVE, we are given rare access to the groundbreaking work of Dr. Susan E. Mackinnon. The first woman to receive the American College of Surgeons Innovation Award, Dr. Mackinnon is restoring movement to limbs that many doctors believe to be permanently paralyzed. It’s not science fiction! With a pioneering technique called nerve transfer surgery, patients are rewired with their own redundant nerves, retraining the brain to move lifeless muscles. Dr. Allan Belzberg, John Hopkins Peripheral Nerve Center, tells us, “Innovation in medicine is like innovation in any discipline. It usually eeks its way along slowly, but then every so often people come along who just kind of rethink it. Think outside the box and make big changes and I think Mackinnon has made some big changes in the way we think.”
The film follows the charismatic Mackinnon and her patients from the exam room to operating room as their extraordinary stories unfold. Loren was fifteen when she was brutally stabbed, severing the nerves in her neck. Michael suffered a freak chain saw accident while Chelsey survived a horrific car wreck. As a quadriplegic, Tom no longer had use of his hands. Viewers will be entranced with their emotional journeys from trauma and disappointment to hope and finally joy as movement is slowly regained. We also visit the Walter Reed Peripheral Clinic to learn how nerve transfer surgery is being used to help our Wounded Warriors. A SPARK OF NERVE is a remarkable story of life-changing innovation and personal triumph.
Linda Schaller, Producer/Director: Linda Schaller is a San Francisco Producer-Director who tells character driven stories that are visual, dramatic and inspiring. A four-time Emmy winner, Linda focuses her documentaries on the arts, history and now medical science with “A Spark of Nerve” – her first independently produced and directed feature length documentary. As Producer-Director of “And Then One Night: the Making of Dead Man Walking” (PBS), Schaller juxtaposed the making of the new opera with the real life death penalty debate. It received a National Emmy nominated and a Northern California Emmy. The performance documentary “Kicking the Notes the Toradze Way” (PBS), won two Chicago Emmys and honors at the Golden Prague Festival. “Nijinska: A Legend in Dance” (PBS), with host Mikhail Baryshnikov, won the prestigious Grand Prix Video Dance International Documentary Award in Paris. Linda was additionally honored to create short historical documentaries for the PBS “Great Performances: The Nutcracker” and the San Francisco Opera, Beach Blanket Babylon and American Ballet Theater gala events.
Tim Schaller, DP/Editor/Animator: Tim Schaller brings to all his projects a complimentary set of talents – cinematographer, editor, 3D animator and colorist. His camerawork benefits from being an editor and the animation benefits from his real world lighting and shooting experience. Tim’s work has been seen on A&E, Discovery, CBS, ABC, PBS and throughout the tech world. For the performance documentary, Kicking the Notes the Toradze Way (PBS), he won a Chicago Regional Emmy Award for editing. The documentary, Ireland: The Celtic Wayselected Schaller to shoot, edit and animate in stereoscopic – winning Best Documentary in the Los Angeles 3D Film Festival. To create their LULU Interlude film, the San Francisco Opera chose Tim for set & virtual set design as well as effects directing, editing, animation and compositing. It is his constant blending of the real and unreal world that inspired the name of his company, Fogline Features.