Trip to Hollywood bossts Kettering teen's spirits

Trip to Hollywood bossts Kettering teen's spirits

This article was published in Dayton Daily News on December 10, 2014

While many people dream of being in front of the camera and staring in a big Hollywood blockbuster, 17-year-old Kettering resident Tim Brooks’ dream is to be behind the scenes creating the amazing visual effects that make movies so memorable. Tim was given a little taste of his dream this past summer when he and his family took a trip to meet some of Hollywood’s best visual effect teams courtesy of the Dayton chapter of A Special Wish Foundation (ASW).

Tim, a senior at Kettering Fairmont High School, was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer during the summer of 2013 and immediately had surgery followed by chemotherapy. Tim endured four months of treatment and in December of 2013 was able to celebrate clear scans and normal tumor markers. Unfortunately, during his three month scan in March of 2014, the doctors notified Tim and his family the cancer had returned and metastasized in his lungs and liver. Once again, Tim began chemotherapy treatments and when the school year ended, he was admitted to Indiana University Hospital where he spent his “summer vacation” receiving high-dose chemotherapy and two bone marrow transplants.

Prior to being admitted into the hospital, Tim was referred to ASW. Tim’s wish was to meet a Hollywood special effects producer. Thanks to local videographer Sam Manavis of ManaVision, Inc., ASW was connected to Marianna Montague of Avid Technologies. Avid is the industry leader in special effects and editing software. Ms. Montague, a cancer survivor, immediately began to help ASW make Tim’s wish a reality. Ms. Montague reached out to several of her friends and contacts and, within minutes, was contacted by Mike Fink. Mr. Fink is a visual effects guru and has created special effects for Avatar, Life of Pi, the Golden Compass (for which he won the Oscar) along with many other movies. Ms. Montague and Mr. Fink began putting together what would become a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Tim and his family.

During Tim’s treatment in Indiana, he received the news that his wish was going to be granted and was scheduled for the first of August.

“The call came at probably one of the lowest points in Tim’s treatment and his spirits immediately lifted when he heard the news,” said Tim’s mother Cori Brooks. “He was really down. He was away from his family and friends, felt terrible and was disappointed he could not enjoy his summer break. The Special Wish trip was the light at the end of the tunnel and provided him with the needed motivation to get through the last days of treatment.”

Tim was discharged from the hospital and a few weeks later was headed to Hollywood, CA. Upon arrival in California, Tim and his family were treated to dinner by Ms. Montague of Avid Technologies at the Lobster Restaurant on the historic Santa Monica Pier. There he was introduced to several visual effects and editing masters; a Hollywood power dinner to say the least! Over the next four days, with Mr. Fink as his guide, Tim met with Editor Nancy Forner (The Vampire Diaries, Law and Order, SVU) at Bronson Studios in Los Angeles. Tim was able to visit the editing and visual effects room where work is done on the Witches of the East End television series, which Ms. Forner edits. Following his meeting with Ms. Forner, Tim joined Mr. Fink for a visit and tour of the University Of Southern California School Of Cinematic Arts to get a better understanding of what is involved with the editorial and visual effects process. Tim even had a chance to hold Mr. Fink’s Oscar for The Golden Compass! Mr. Fink then accompanied the Brooks family to visit Richard Edlund, a multiple Oscar winner. Mr. Edlund worked on Star Wars Episodes IV and V as well as Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Tim’s trip to Hollywood ended with a visit to the Institute for Creative Technologies and a rare visit to the Disney Studios where they graciously opened up the editing room where The Jungle Book, staring Scarlett Johansson, Idris Wlba, Bill Murray and Lupita Nyong, was in production. Tim toured the studios and met several members of the production, visual effects and editorial teams including Director Jon Favreau, Visual Effect Supervisor Rob Legato, a two-time Oscar winner (Titanic and Hugo,)Editor Mark Livolsi and VFX Production Manager Matthew Rubin.

When Tim and his family arrived back to Kettering he was asked to describe his favorite part of the trip.

He responded by saying, "Wow, that's hard! The trip was definitely the coolest thing I could have ever imagined. I would have to say my favorite thing about the trip was the people I got to meet and having that experience to sit down with them and talk about their experiences in the film industry. It's just something most kids will never have the opportunity to have."

When asked what Special Wish meant to the family, Cori stated, “Tim's wish trip was truly a gift to the family, not just for Tim. When one person in the family has cancer, the whole family has cancer. We spent over a year with one of us being with Tim at appointments, tests and hospitalizations while the other parent was home to be with our other boys. I spent the summer in Indiana with Tim, our family all pitched in watching the boys in Dayton and Bob ran back and forth trying to be with everyone. Tim's wish trip gave us an opportunity to reconnect and spend quality time together as a family and not talk about cancer! It was such a blessing and a huge gift we just can't thank Special Wish and our trip sponsors enough!”

Tim’s wish was sponsored by a partnership with Bonbright Distributors and Five Rivers MetroParks. If you would like to help make a Special Wish come true for a local child battling a life-threatening disorder please contact ASW.

A Special Wish Foundation- Dayton Chapter grants wishes to local children, ages birth through 20, who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening disorder. Serving Montgomery, Darke, Greene, Mercer, Miami, and Shelby counties, A Special Wish Foundation – Dayton Chapter has granted over 1,600 wishes since 1984. To make a contribution, learn more about granting wishes to local children or to find out more about the organization please visit or call 937-223-WISH(9474)