Uniball is the story of a testicular cancer diagnosis, revolving around the week leading up to Ben's testicle removal. Based on a true story, this comedic retelling explores themes of vulnerability, masculinity and artistic catharsis, all wrapped up in a humorous documentary format.
Mission StatementUniball tells the story of a cancer diagnoses, and intends to give representation to those who have experienced the same. Our core team consists of one man, the survivor of testicular cancer, and two women. We plan to work with a diverse cast of people of all races, genders, and sexual orientations.
About The Project
My name is Ben Eslick, and in the spring of 2019, I was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer. I was officially diagnosed on a Monday, and on the Friday of the same week, I had my right testicle removed. The experience was in many ways frightening, daunting, and embarassing. I remember not being exactly sure how, or even if I wanted people to know what I was going through.
It wasn't until I found myself the day of surgery, lying on the operating table, finally coming to terms with my situation, that I realized my life was truly beginning to look and feel like a fast paced medical drama in real time. And occasionally, if I could remember to have a sense of humor about it, a lot of the things that were happening to me were honestly kind of funny. Between making small talk with your nurse while they give your testicles a thorough ultrasound, or trying to take your doctor seriously after they've made their third Lance Armstrong reference in a row (both of these things really happened) it almost becomes therapeutic to see yourself as the leading star in the most preposterous dark comedy you could imagine. That's when the idea of "Uniball" started to take form. The story of my plight with testicular cancer, and the physical and emotional imbalance inherent to living your life with not two... but one working testicle.
Ben and Molly are a young couple living together in their 20s, thrown suddenly into disarray when Ben is diagnosed with testicular cancer. As a form of coping, Molly, an amatuer documentarian, decides to make a documentary chronicling the experience, specifically the three days leading up to Ben's left testicle removal, and the surgery day itself.
The young couple makes the most out of their circumstances by trying to highlight the more funny and ridiculous aspects of the diagnosis, by showcasing necessary and strange medical procedures, breaking the news to their eccentric friends, and making lighthearted jokes with one another all along the way. But as the stressful reality of cancer starts to weigh on them, their true emotions inadvertenly leak through the seams of their entertaining facade. Uniball commentates on topics like: public perception of cancer, familial pressures, and the american healthcare system, while exploring themes pertaining to vulnerability, percieved masculinity, relational tension, coping mechanisms, and artisitic catharsis. The film is based entirely on real events, and stars the real people who experienced them. This film is a mockumentary, but it's no Spinal Tap. It's just a more stylized version of what really happened.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
Uniball offers a contemporary depiction of a relevant health issue that faces so many people today, written and portrayed by the same people who lived through it. Based off data from the National Cancer Institute, ~38.4% of people in the US will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, but other studies suggest that the percentage could increase to 50% in the next 30 years. These numbers can be troubling, and a little hard to swallow, and you might be wondering, what exactly can a film do about this?
Now more than ever, I believe it's important to tell stories that freshly represent the realities that they choose to explore. All too often, cancer in films focus primarily on the inevitability and struggle with death, usually manifesting itself as the main emotional arc for it's unfortunate characters. While this is valid, cancer is much more than just a death sentence, and as it gradually becoming more prevalent in the fabric of our culture, I believe it's important that we don't make it a habit to only reflect it this way. Cancer is not just a storytelling tool for death, it's a personal and subjective experience for every person who goes through it. Uniball delves into many refreshing and original themes revolving around what it means to be diagnosed with cancer as a young person, and utilizes the power of humor to express itself authentically. The idea is to establish the kind of tone that effectively challenges, amuses and legitimately enlightens on what a cancer experience looks like firsthand, and just the kind of attitude it takes to really combat it.
A major component of Uniball is its examination of relationships, specifically between the two main leads, Ben and Molly. While the story is about Ben, Molly is the one who documents and actively tells the story, in her own creative way that helps her deal with the news. Molly's character will be played by the real-life Molly she is based on, who was right beside me in support during the whole experience, and helped me write the script.
The more I explored the idea of Uniball, the more energizing the catharsis was that came from writing the autobiographical tale. So much so, it helped me shape an attitude that was positive moving forward when facing all of the various hardships of my cancer, and carried over into my chemotherapy. In a lot of ways, it really felt like it gave my struggles meaning, and a reason to persevere. This story means a lot to me, and I feel like it could mean a lot to others dealing with similar hardships. Cancer affects us all in different ways, Help us shed a light on it that deepens understanding, helps us grow, and provides a hopeful perspective.
We live in a time where things feel scary and uncertain with the looming threat of COVID-19, and health and safety is our utmost priority. We originally imagined that production would begin sooner, but like everyone else in the world right now, we've had to rearrange those plans. Our production is small to begin with, and we will be following reopening guidelines provided by the CDC once we begin production.
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About This Team
DIRECTOR: Ben Eslick
My name is Ben Eslick and I am the writer, director and main actor of this film. As you can tell from the photo above, I'm the kind of guy who likes to get things done. This story is very personal because it's based off my real life. My directing experience has mostly been in the realm of making music videos and shorts, but I've always been a writer and this would be my first feature film.
CO-WRITER: Molly Phillips
I'm Molly, the real-life girlfriend of Ben, playing the Uniball girlfriend. Aside from having been a writer my whole life, I was there through every step of the testicle debacle. This drives me to create not only the best version of Ben's story, but to also share my side of it.
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Molly Wheat
I'm the other Molly- not to be confused with Molly P., I'm Molly DP. I am an award-winning director, editor, cinematographer, special effects artist, and I usually work as a one-man-band filmmaker on my own projects and collaborations. As their friend, I witnessed Ben and Molly make it through the cancer process. I've been on board since the very first draft, and I am thrilled and grateful to be a part of bringing this story to fruition.
PRODUCER: Marty Lang
I'm Marty - I'm not either Molly. I'm a writer, director, producer, actor, and film professor at the University of Memphis. I met Ben at the Arkansas Creative Sustainability Summit (co-hosted by Seed&Spark!). We're also helping student filmmakers with this film, too - I'm teaching a Crowdfunding course this spring at the U of M, and we're running this crowdfunding campaign with our students! I love this story so much, and I'm so excited to help these incredible filmmakers tell it.