“To preserve a man alive in the midst of so many chances and hostilities, is as great a miracle as to create him.” — Jeremy Taylor
This miracle once walked through COC’s very halls.
Brandon Chandler was an inspirational man who battled through twenty-two years of his life disguising his anguishing pain with a never-ending smile.
The beginning of 2011 brought Chandler news he had been fighting since he was seven-year old. Diagnosed with stage four-liver cancer, that being the last of three cancers throughout his life, Chandler was given three-to-six months to live. Upon hearing the news, his close friends and family urged him to tell his story.
Looking back, it was the year 1999 that brought Chandler a friendship that would one day bring his story to life. Brandon Morris was a freshman with a desire to produce motion pictures. So with Chandler as the “big film guy on campus,” as Morris said, it was inevitable that their creative minds would one day cross paths. It was here Morris recalled Chandler’s ability to bring the best out of him and all those he interacted with. Morris said, “to me, Brandon has always been an inspiration…he has always been someone there to push me creatively, personally, and spiritually.”
It wasn’t long before Chandler and Morris began making films together. As their friendship began to grow, Morris found himself in the midst of Chandler’s second cancer. From age seven to nineteen, Chandler had fought stage-four Neuroblastoma cancer. Now Morris watched as his courageous friend took on Thyroid cancer with a smile. Morris continually watched Chandler, amazed by his ability to remain joyful throughout all his trials.
Twelve years into the present and three bouts of cancer later, Chandler was twenty-eight. Inspired by his friends “real, raw, emotional, heart-wrenching story,” Morris approached Chandler with a request to preserve his years of endeavors. It took some convincing to actually get this overtly humble man to agree. However, with the understanding that “his story was going to be bigger than himself,” as Morris said, Chandler stood next to his friend’s side throughout the production of the last film they would create together.
It was Morris’ vision to create a cancer story that would leave audiences with Chandler’s message. As a man of faith, Chandler was equipped with a tool that he continually pulled from the Bible’s book of Paul—joy. It was not only Chandler but also his entire family who fought their trials with the ability to apply comedy and faith throughout years of devastating tribulations.
With his vision in place, Morris knew the film required interviews with Chandler’s family. Their words would transport the audience throughout Chandler’s life long journey. As a result, Morris explained that their words became some of the most grueling parts of the film. It was during the family interviews that Morris not only discovered Chandler’s diagnosed life span of three to six months, but later faced his own trails in the editing room.
Chandler had been present throughout the entire interviewing process. He had watched as his family sat talking to a camera lens re-living memories of him as though he were already gone. His family’s farewell words were causing them to already live the inevitable future that stood before them. These interviews began to bring out emotions.
Throughout his entire life Brandon Chandler had suppressed his pain, but Morris needed Chandler to succumb to the emotions his pain created in order to tell his true story. To let go of his calm and collective composure for his diaries was difficult for Chandler in the start. However, he soon began to unfurl and express his pain and worries openly. As a man of God, Chandler began to understand that this film could be his shot at bringing just one person to the lord,” says Morris.
Morris explained that he would always ponder the last three months of Chandler’s life, wondering what was really going on in his mind. “I think that is one of the great mysteries of this film,” Morris said.
After Chandler passed in early April, Morris re-entered his video diaries in order to pull together his last words for the film’s trailer. Scrolling through the most recent entries, Morris was hit with “eye-opening” emotions as he watched his friend express his pain in ways he had never seen. Morris explained, “ Within that minute and thirty seconds of the teaser, I wanted to grab people and go this is real…this is not a cancer story you’ve ever heard before.”
Three-to-Six Months has now been released to the Sundance festival in honor of Brandon Chandler and his story that stands as a message to all. Live life joyfully throughout all your trials Chandler would say.
A chapter that served Chandler best sums up his life of courage and endurance.
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
– James chapter 1:12