Friday, October 3, 2014

Why I'm not participating in Jason Schmidt's dubious documentary project about my father [Part IV]: False and questionable claims made in Kickstarter fundraising campaign

On the left is Margaret Mattox's artwork, flipped horizontally; on the right is Dr. Frank Netter's 1979 illustration

In part I, I reported that I refused to participate in a shoestring budget documentary project about my father being made by freelance video editor Jason Schmidt because he wrote me that was willing to accept funding from my father, his "sympathetic associates," and from "deep-pocketed patrons/benefactors" I might steer to him.

In part II, I reported that my father's press agent, Melinda Zemper, wrote me that she issued a press release hyping the project and helped fund it via Kickstarter because she's personal friends with Schmidt whom she called "an ethical, competent journalist."

In part III, I reported about "original retro-style artwork" by South Carolina artist Margaret Mattox offered as a premium to Kickstarter donors. Mattox's drawing of a man performing the Heimlich maneuver bears a striking resemblance to a 1979 work by the renowned medical illustrator, Frank Netter MD. (Original? Not so much. Retro? Definitely.)

The Kickstarter campaign raised about $32,000 in July.

It also raised questions about the responsibility of Kickstarter recipients to those who fund their projects.

The fund raising pitch stresses that the filmmakers "believe in this story."

That claim is undermined by this example that suggests Schmidt may not even have a grasp of the basic material.

In fact, the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross incorporated the Heimlich into their choking rescue guidelines in 1976, only two years after my father introduced the treatment.

By any measure that's a remarkably rapid acceptance for any new medical treatment.

It's also a milestone that anyone who had done even cursory research into the history of the Heimlich maneuver would know.

Via my father's recent memoir:
(In 1976, the Red Cross) changed its policies, advocating that people use both back slaps and what it called “abdominal thrusts.” By “abdominal thrust,” the organization meant the Heimlich Maneuver.
In a recent e-mail, I asked Schmidt which of "the biggest organizations in the medical establishment" his fund raising pitch was referring to.

Here's his non-answer:
I'd be happy to look over any information you have regarding that subject.
In other words, Schmidt learns from yours truly that his project may have used a false claim to raise funds. In response, he provides no information to back up his project's claim. Instead, this so-called "ethical, competent journalist" asks me to send him information.

If that's how much Schmidt "believes in this story," Melinda Zemper may want to ask her friend for a refund.

Further, the Kickstarter campaign offered this premium:

Call me a stickler-in-the-mud, but I have a problem with the film having a business relationship with my father.

But at the moment that's a secondary point.

My main point is that Schmidt apparently hasn't read my father's book. If he had, wouldn't he have known that the treatment was almost immediately accepted "by the biggest organizations in the medical establishment"?

Here's a fair and perhaps loaded question.

After a Kickstarter campaign ends, if the recipients learn that the campaign included false information, should they inform donors?

The above example may be a case in point.

The following definitely is.

Here's a screen shot of information prominently posted near the top of the Kickstarter page.

As Sidebar readers know, via Seth Abramovitch's scorching August 14 Hollywood Reporter report, How Dr. Heimlich Maneuvered Hollywood Into Backing His Dangerous AIDS "Cure," actress Halle Berry has denied the claim.

Are the "collection of talented colleagues and friends" and family members making the film (see below) aware of the Hollywood Reporter article?

If they read their own Facebook page, they are.

If they've read the THR story -- and I think's safe to assume Schmidt did -- then they're aware that the Halle Berry claim on their Kickstarter page is apparently a lie.

So should their Kickstarter page be corrected?

And should donors be made aware of the false claims? Or is Kickstarter a "caveat emptor" operation?

I'll start asking questions and will report the results.

Jason Schmidt (large photo), his wife Ellen Kitchen Schmidt (top right) and presumably Morry Galonoy, Charlotte Fuller, Helen Russell, April Thibeault. Sam Rider, Dennis Yuen, Matt Israel, Shane Rettig, and Jason's brother Justin Schmidt. ("Presumably" because the photo didn't have a cut line, but the names are listed here.)

Part V: Jason Schmidt refuses to answer my questions about false and/or problematic claims in his project's Kickstarter funding campaign