“You think I eat a lot now? That’s nothing. Tune in December 31st, when I will stream a live webcast of my last meal. Death row inmates get one. Why shouldn’t I? I can’t take another year in this fat suit, but I can end this year with a bang. If you can stomach it, you’re invited to watch…as I eat myself to death. — Butter”
Gobsmacked! That’s how I felt when I first read this quote from Erin Lange’s novel, BUTTER. I was surfing Amazon looking for a book to option to adapt into my next film. My kids were 17 and 19 and I wanted something that could affect them in a positive way but nothing too soft or too dark. I searched words like “reliance”, “bullying”, “self esteem”, “family issues” and such. I spent days going from book to book searching for that connection to a story I wanted to tell - ultimately a story that could “inspire”, a theme that resonates with most of my work. That was when I found Butter or as I put it, Butter found me.
Who was this “Butter” and how on earth can he eat himself to death? And why? I had to know. I ordered the book.
As I read the book my stomach turned with each page. I was hooked - big time. I was instantly drawn in to Butter and his plight. I was witnessing and feeling his pain, then his joy. The book tells the story from the first person. Butter’s voice is funny and irreverent. Although I am not obese, I empathize with him. Who did not feel left out in High School? Who has not felt marginalized? Who in someway has not felt bullied? Unaccepted? Gawked at? Lonely? Even considered suicide? I know I have.
The details of Butter’s life, his struggles plus the humor will give the film an authenticity that I hope will make it powerful and emotional. His story is so original and represents everything I want to say as a film maker. Making this movie can affect change. The experience I'm most trying to communicate with Butter is that of acceptance. While this film is a journey towards suicide, it’s about beginnings, change, and how deeply funny life can be in its most serious moments.
Bullying has become an epidemic. Many children are victims of sexual bullying and cyber bullying, and overweight children are especially targeted. The alarming statistics on bullying are upsetting. In a recent national survey of overweight sixth graders, 30 percent experienced daily teasing, bullying or rejection because of their size. The number doubles for overweight high school students.
We need to teach our children to be kind. To accept others how they are. To stand up for others. It starts there. To show a simple act of kindness and acceptance. This may be the ray of hope a desperate teen might need. Befriend the Butters of the world.
If you are reading this you might be an actor or investor or someone who is interested in becoming involved in making this movie. I want to say that I need you. I need many parts to make this movie - I truly believe “The Whole is Greater Than the Sum of it’s Parts". Come be a part of a story that can effect change. Maybe save a life. Create a discussion. Help our children evolve.
Butter will capture our hearts. His story will capture our minds. It’s an important story to tell with a powerful message.
And let’s not forget to sit back and enjoy a really good film.
PAUL A. KAUFMAN • Director