Private Project

Derek Changes His Mind

TBI survivor Derek Dabkoski enrolls in an experimental stem cell surgery study to have stem cells injected directly into the injured area of his brain. He hopes to regain the functionality he lost when he was brutally attacked and left for dead on the streets of San Francisco a decade ago. He enrolls in this surgery at a difficult time for his family, as he and his wife Nadia, his primary caretaker restricted by their long and fruitless fight for her green card, are about to have their first child.

The story of Derek Changes His Mind follows the immediate medical challenges to Derek and Nadia, as larger systemic issues dictate the way they have to spend their days. From their tiny 225 square foot room above a garage, we root for the stem cells to repair Derek’s mind as we start to understand the daily challenges to this family, Derek’s life as a disabled person, Nadia’s life as a person denied access to the country she lives in and grew up in, and how a family stuck in these conditions have to fight constantly for the right and the means to live in and raise their newborn child in 21st century America.

  • Derek Dabkoski
    Director
  • Ian McClellan
    Director
    Sadie's Baby
  • Im Joong Kim
    Director
  • Ian McClellan
    Producer
    The Battle of AmfAR
  • Derek Dabkoski
    Key Cast
  • Nadia Janeth Dabkoski
    Key Cast
  • Carmen Petra Dabkoski
    Key Cast
  • Im Joong Kim
    Cinematographer
  • Nicholas Fynn Myggen
    Colorist
  • Nicholas Fynn Myggen
    Post Supervisor
  • Fred de Sá Fernandez
    Animator
  • Ryan Westman
    Sound Post
  • Jonny Cates
    Sound Post
  • Donghoon Han
    MUSIC
  • Sam Lim
    MUSIC
  • Project Type:
    Documentary
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 18 minutes 20 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 24, 2021
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
Director Biography - Derek Dabkoski, Ian McClellan, Im Joong Kim

Derek Dabkoski is an award-winning filmmaker whose films have screened at festivals around the world, including the San Francisco and Vancouver International Film Festivals. He completed his undergraduate degree from NYU despite a debilitating physical attack that left him permanently disabled. He recently achieved his MFA from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in film and television production, where he pursued his dream of directing. With a passion for telling raw, personal stories, DEREK CHANGES HIS MIND is a chance for Derek to share an intimate portrait of his burgeoning family as they experience life at the crossroads of neuro-medical science and immigration reform.

Ian McClellan started as a company electrician on the 2012 Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning film Beasts of the Southern Wild. He went on to associate produce for Academy Award-winning filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman on their documentary The Battle of AmfAR (premiered Sundance 2013). He earned his MFA at USC in film and television production in December 2016. The last thesis he produced, Lalo’s House, won a Student Academy Award in 2018. He now runs his production company Island Time Pictures, focused on enabling directors to realize their unique artistic visions.

USC School of Cinematic Arts MFA Graduate, Im Joong Kim was born and raised in Seoul, Korea by his Korean father and American mother. He studied in the U.S. starting in high school and is fluent in both cultures and languages. From horror to science fiction, Writer/Director Im Joong Kim’s scripts are exciting rollercoaster rides. He writes and makes films that fill theaters with energy. His latest film ‘No Selfies’ won Best Short at the Diabolical Horror Film Festival, and it won Best Atmosphere, was Nominated for Best Short, Best Scare, and Best Editing at the Independent Horror Movie Awards.

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Director Statement

Told from perspectives both formal and candid, Derek Changes His Mind combines traditional documentary footage of interviews and large life events captured with professional equipment, and more intimate home movie moments shot using my GoPro and cellphone. My first-person storytelling brings you inside my active yet disabled mind to share Nadia and my desires to affect change in issues facing disabled and immigrant communities. This is my attempt to give viewers the chance to become part of our story, and better understand why we have made it our goal to change the way people like ourselves are treated. They will know our dreams and aspirations personally. In addition to the video footage, impressionistic animated sequences portraying visits to Nadia’s family in Mexico and my complete neurological regeneration will be interwoven throughout the project.