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Skin On Fire (Password Protected)

Skin on Fire is a documentary short film about Topical Steroid Addiction (TSA) and Topical Steroid Withdrawal Syndrome (TSWS).

Through the heartbreaking, inspiring stories of diverse individuals who have suffered from TSWS, the film shows their suffering is undoubtedly from a legitimate condition, and the respected medical experts who weigh in offer viewers a better understanding of why someone may develop TSWS, what can be done to prevent it, and what new treatments may be on the horizon.

  • James Keach
  • Alexandra Komisaruk
  • James Keach
  • Alex Exline
  • Alexandra Komisaruk
  • James Keach
  • Alexandra Komisaruk
  • Alex Exline
    Director of Photography
  • James Keach
  • Louven Reyes
    Production Coordinator
  • Kait Halibozek
    Impact Producer
  • Cody Peterson
    Supervising Sound Editor
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    29 minutes 13 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 25, 2022
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - James Keach

Born in New York, James Keach has been a part of the film industry as an actor, director, writer, and producer. A graduate of Northwestern University and the Yale School of Drama, he received classical training as an actor at the New York Shakespeare Festival and was a founding member of the Body Politic Theater in Chicago.

James has appeared in over fifty feature films and has produced and directed hundreds of hours of television. He directed the award-winning documentary Glen Campbell… I’ll Be Me, which showed the legendary singer’s unprecedented “Goodbye Tour” after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Glen Campbell… I’ll Be Me was nominated for an Academy Award® and won three Grammy® Awards.

In 2018, James produced and directed the award-winning Augie, which was released theatrically and on digital platforms and tells the story of Augie Nieto, the genius entrepreneur and LifeFitness founder who was diagnosed with ALS over a decade ago and how he continues to work every day to find the cure for the disease.

2019 saw the distribution of two documentaries produced by James, David Crosby: Remember My Name, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, and Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice, which was one of the highest grossing documentaries of 2019 prior to its broadcast debut on CNN on New Year’s Day 2020. The film has been named “Best Music Documentary” by the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards.

Prior to that, James produced Walk the Line, for which the Producers’ Guild of America nominated him Motion Picture Producer of the Year. Walk the Line was also nominated for several Academy and Golden Globe awards, winning the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture and garnering Reese Witherspoon her Academy Award® for Best Actress.

In 2020 Keach released Turning Point, an extraordinary documentary that follows the quest for the first medication that could treat the underlying processes of Alzheimer’s disease, and Linda and the Mockingbirds, which celebrates Mexican music and culture and features music superstars Linda Ronstadt and Jackson Browne.

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Director Statement

I first became aware of TSA / TSW while playing golf with Dr. Marvin Rapaport. I was surprised to learn from Marvin that topical steroids had caused some of the worst suffering he had seen in his decades of medical practice, yet to his great frustration, the condition of TSA was unrecognized in the medical community.

Wanting to learn more, I began reading about the condition and was stunned to learn it was brought on by a common medical treatment. The topical steroids I had used on and off to treat poison oak were terribly dangerous if used incorrectly, yet there was no warning and no awareness for long-term steroid users of steroids’ hazardous side effects.

It got me thinking about how many people, including in my own family, had quit smoking after the Surgeon General’s warning came out. Yet why were steroids being sold over the counter, and commonly prescribed in medical offices, without adequate warning about their possible dangers?

It was when I began interviewing TSW sufferers that I knew I had a film. It’s my belief that awareness will bring hope for those going through TSW, that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and promising new treatments on the horizon. Further, I believe this film will raise awareness of TSW in the medical community so that they can adequately warn patients of steroids’ dangers, and offer alternate treatments for sufferers of eczema and other chronic skin conditions.