Back to IndieWire

Meet the 2015 Tribeca Filmmakers #42: ‘TransFatty Lives’ Reveals What It’s Like Living With ALS

Meet the 2015 Tribeca Filmmakers #42: 'TransFatty Lives' Reveals What It's Like Living With ALS

READ MORE: Meet the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Filmmakers

Patrick O’Brien’s “TransFatty Lives,” filmed over 10 years, tells the intimate story of what it’s like to live with ALS (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s disease). A onetime NYC deejay and Internet superstar known as “TransFatty,” O’Brien began to document his life in 2005, after being diagnosed with ALS and given only 2-5 years to live. The film unflinchingly looks the possibility of death in the face, while at the same time exploring all the things that make life worth living. 

What’s your film about in 140 characters or less?

Boy becomes gimp, gimp makes film, gimp gets girl, girl and gimp have baby, gimp loses girl, gimp loses fuckin’ mind, gimp goes down in cinema history.

Now what’s it REALLY about?

“TransFatty Lives” is a 10-year epic visual diary. It’s an emotional rollercoaster. It takes you into the dark heart of ALS (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s disease) by way of love, laughter, paranoia, depression, and the crazy absurdities of life. And it’s a how-to film for my baby boy, Sean.

Tell us briefly about yourself.

Too glam to give a damn.

Biggest challenge in completing this film?

You mean, besides having ALS? Besides having my hard drives stolen? Besides missing footage, no money, and collaborators who came and went, making “TransFatty Lives” was a cakewalk.

What do you want the Tribeca audience to take away from your film?

Never count anyone out.

Any films inspire you?


What’s next?

Hot Docs for our international premiere and then the world!

What cameras did you shoot on?

Exclusively using Gimp-Cam technology. Seriously, we utilized technology in a huge way on this film. We used every format of camera, from Hi-8 to Hi-Def, from 16mm to 35mm to anamorphic …

Did you crowdfund?
If so, via what platform. If not, why?

Our fiscal sponsor is the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA). Thanks to their suggestion we used RocketHub to crowdfund. We also had some amazing investors who helped get the film finished. Right now I’ve launched a new RocketHub campaign to help get me and my caregivers to Tribeca for my World Premiere. You can learn how to donate by visiting www.transfattylives.com.

Did you go to film school? If so, which one? 

The School of VHS Arts (also, the School of Visual Arts in NY)

Indiewire invited Tribeca Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2015 festival. For profiles go HERE.

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Festivals and tagged , ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox