A renowned UW-Madison researcher has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to finish a documentary film on how exercise — specifically cross country skiing — can play a role in combating multiple sclerosis.
Ian Duncan, a professor of neurology who’s been working on stem cell therapies for MS, has teamed with Norwegian-born filmmaker Steinar Hybertsen to capture the stories of six patients — three in the U.S. and three in Norway — who have found hope by sliding through the woods on snow-covered trails.
The film titled "Multiple Sclerosis, The Vikings and Nordic Skiing" explores the history of MS with experts from around the world and focuses on how a healthy, active lifestyle can benefit those with the debilitating nerve disease.
“Exercise is important for everyone, but it’s vital for MS patients,” says Duncan, an avid athlete himself who has completed three Ironman triathlons and 30 American Birkebeiner ski marathons.
The film describes the origin of the disease and how one particular group of people, the Vikings, inadvertently contributed to the genetic spread of MS through their passion for travel and exploration.
Duncan and Hybertsen are now looking to raise $20,000 via Kickstarter, the best-known crowdfunding service, so they can complete the project and produce a high-quality film for screenings around the world.
Those contributing $20 get a digital download of the hour-long film, while $150 buys a private showing. The film will also be shown on public television stations in the Midwest and in Norway.
“If we can raise enough money, we can broaden its reach to cover many nations around the world and also enter it in a number of film festivals,” says Duncan.
The filmmakers have teamed with local Kickstarter campaign manager Jesse Theiler of Crowdfunding Project Partners of Madison to provide guidance on the effort. The fundraising site for the film went live this week and will stay up until Nov. 6.
“As with all Kickstarter campaigns, this is all or nothing,” says Theiler, explaining that if the filmmakers don’t hit their goal, all contributions are returned and all rewards are cancelled.
A member of the National MS Society’s Hall of Fame as both a research scientist and fundraiser, Duncan has focused on brain repair in people with a chronic form of the disease. He’s been working on using stem cell therapies in sufferers and is looking to move the research into clinical trials in the next two years.