Not Going Quietly : An Exclusive Interview with Director Nicholas Bruckman 

Not Going Quietly : An Exclusive Interview with Director Nicholas Bruckman 
On December 18, 2017, approximately 70 protesters against the GOP Tax Bill were arrested while staging a 'die-in' in the rotunda of the Rayburn House office building. One of the arrestees was health care activist Ady Barkan, who is living with ALS. Barkan said the GOP tax bill's cuts to Medicaid will put his and 13 million other American's life at risk. (Photo by Michael Nigro)

Synopisis : A rising star in progressive politics and a new father, 32-year-old Ady Barkan’s life is upended when he is diagnosed with ALS. But after a confrontation with powerful Senator Jeff Flake on an airplane goes viral, catapulting him to national fame, Ady and a motley crew of activists ignite a once-in-a-generation political movement called “Be a Hero.” Together, they barnstorm across the country and empower people to confront their elected officials with emotional, personal stories to demand healthcare justice and Ady holds groundbreaking interviews with Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Through his journey, Ady discovers that collective action and speaking truth to power offers hope for his family and millions of others.

An Exclusive Interview with Director Nicholas Bruckman 

1)How did you get to know Ady Barkan and how do you approach Ady to make a documentary, because it will become really personal.

In addition to making feature films, my production company, People’s Television, creates video content for social movements, brands, and causes that we believe in. In early 2018, I got a call from Liz Jaff, the woman who filmed Ady’s famous encounter with Jeff Flake and becomes his campaign strategist. She asked me to make a short launch video for the Be a Hero campaign, so I flew out to Santa Barbara to interview Ady. Immediately upon meeting him, I realized there was so much more to him, and to the story than could ever be told in a short film.

That first day, I floated to Ady the idea of doing a feature documentary about his life, because his voice was already fading, we had no time to waste. I think Ady agreed because he understood intuitively that the most politically effective film would require him to share the vulnerability of his journey with ALS, and he also wanted to create a time capsule for his children to have. I hope Not Going Quietly will one day be a way to know this part of Ady and his story.

2)Ady was a campaign director for The Fed-Up campaign. Could you talk about his work there, and he seems to support other people in his blood from the get-go.

Ady had a decade of organizing experience before he was diagnosed with ALS, most of which we weren’t able to include in the film. The Fed Up campaign was just one of his many brilliant and innovative political ideas, which involved bringing workers to where the the US Federal Reserve met directly to advocate for making the economy work better for low wage workers.  He was also very influential and successful in the fight to raise the minimum wage in New York, and was a prominent advocate for immigrant rights through the organization Make the Road. So the ALS diagnosis certainly didn’t make him an activist, but it made health care a focal issue for him, because instead of telling other people’s stories to affect change, he could tell his own.

3)Could you explain “Be The Hero Campaign”? How did it get started and what are they doing now? How has this campaign helped the people?

Be a Hero grew out of Ady’s story and has evolved into a national movement to empower people to raise their voices for a more just health care system and accountability in government. They use the power of personal storytelling, video advocacy, and collective action to help win elections for progressive candidates who will be responsive to their constituents and fight for equitable access to health care. As you see in the film, Be a Hero was incredibly effective in helping Democrats win in the 2018 elections, as well as subsequently in the 2020 elections. Be a Hero continues to this day to fight for universal health care in the United States, and Ady is among the most powerful voices in the U.S. on this issue.

4)For Rachel, Ady’s wife, how do you think she maintained her composure throughout his illness? Particularly when, Ady’s was on the road and she had to take care of a newborn baby, Carl. Where do you think that strength came from?

Rachael told me in interviews that she felt that the political work Ady does in the film and continues today has helped him to make meaning out of his tragic diagnosis, and that it was the best thing for him and the family for her to encourage and support that work.

She also understands first-hand from her experience as a caregiver for Ady how broken the U.S. healthcare system is, and the need to create a fair and equitable system that allows people to get the care they need without going bankrupt. So she supports Ady’s political beliefs and mission as a way to help other families around the country, and I think the sacrifices she makes to advance his cause are in many ways as heroic as the work Ady does in the field.

5)You saw Ady’s body was deteriorating, so it could be one day he didn’t want to shoot. What was the challenge that you faced to shoot?

One of the biggest challenges was that as a filmmaker I wanted to interview Ady everyday that we were on the road, but his voice was so limited that some days he would only have 30 minutes of speaking before it would give out. So I often had to refrain from interviewing him, because if he spoke to me that would be time that he couldn’t spend giving a speech, or on a video call with Rachael and his son Carl. So creatively that forced us to take a cinema-verite approach to production, following him everywhere as he spoke to others, which I think ultimately helped the film.

6)I think meeting former senator from Arizona, Jeff Flake on the airplane was one of the critical points of Ady’s life, how do you think that experience changed the course of his life?

You only get a small taste of this part of his life in the film, but Ady had been in an understandable state of despair after his diagnosis. At the same time he received this tragic personal news, Donald Trump was elected president, threatening many of the political victories that Ady and the progressive movement had fought for for decades. When he first went to DC, as his body and voice faded, he thought that his life as an activist might be over. So when he confronts Flake and the video resonates so widely across the country, it was a moment of rediscovery for him of the profound power of his voice, and of realization that ALS would not take it away, but rather it made people listen to him as they never had before.

7)Ady has a great team that working and supporting him. Could you talk about Liz, a partner that helps to run the Be a Hero Campaign, and became a strong voice for their campaign?

Liz is an incredible organizer and as Ady describes her, “a creative and brilliant bulldozer.

online pharmacy buy cenforce with best prices today in the USA

” She has a very interesting backstory that we weren’t able to include in the film, including working on the Obama campaign and running for office herself (and almost winning) the position of Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee.

online pharmacy buy neurontin with best prices today in the USA

It is an incredible stroke of serendipity and luck that she happened to be on that same plane with Ady, because from that moment forward she becomes his biggest megaphone, amplifying his voice. She is such a force of nature that she deserves her own documentary.

8)In the making of this film, what was the most educational thing that you learned from Ady? And how do you apply that into your life?

Throughout making the film Ady would always make us laugh, and remind us that activism is a joyful experience. Ady taught me that no matter your personal circumstances, you can fight for a better society, and that despite all adversity, you can be a great father.  I hope to do both.

9)Could you talk about the congressional hearing for “Medicare for All”? What was the room like after he made a very inspirational speech?

Being in the room to witness that speech was something I will never forget. There was a beautiful moment of silence after Ady spoke, as his words reverberated throughout the room and throughout the country on television. Noone wanted to speak first and try to follow him up! Today a vast majority of Americans support Medicare for All, and I believe that Ady’s words that day had a direct impact on public sentiment, and that his work may one day lead to universal healthcare becoming a reality in the United States.

10 ) What do you want the audience to take away from this film?

online pharmacy with best prices today in the USA

I hope audiences feel uplifted, energized, and take Ady’s message to heart, that hope is not a state of mind, hope is a state of action, hope is a hammer that we use to build a better world.  It’s a message that transcends politics.

I would love for audiences to continue the conversation with me on social media:,

Here’s the trailer of the film.


Comment (0)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here