Barclay DeVeau is lucky to be alive, and we are lucky she survived and that she is determined to turn her story into a call to action that inspires women to make their voices heard. Barclay is an award-winning filmmaker dedicated to raising the visibility of women in front of and behind the camera. While it’s appalling that she nearly had to die to fuel her new film project, the event has brought friends and supporters around her to help her write and produce a series of three short films to show how very dangerous it can be to ignore a woman when she’s sounding an alarm and asking for help. The Cassandra Project (named for the Trojan Princess who had the gift of prophecy but was cursed by disbelief) reaches the core of Barclay’s experience of being disbelieved and dismissed when she was very sick and needed help. It also combines two other women’s experiences to offer a trilogy of films highlighting the importance of listening to women and believing and helping them no matter what.
Barclay’s Story–A Sci-Fi Horror Film
Barclay’s own near-death story is being told as a sci-fi horror film because, as she says, that’s what it was. In late 2020, Barclay became physically ill with strange symptoms in different parts of her body. She went to the doctor, then to many doctors – of many specialties. She says that she was begging them almost daily to help her, but she was “dismissed, disregarded, disbelieved…” and three of the doctors even recommended that she see a psychiatrist. This went on until she was so ill, she had a seizure and was rushed to the emergency room. At that point, they induced a coma for nine days and finally discovered a rare bacterial infection that caused a swollen brain with bacterial meningitis and encephalitis, had entered her heart, and sparked Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, a rare autoimmune disease. In all seven of her body’s systems were infected, and she will need several surgeries to repair her muscles and joints. Thankfully, Barclay says that now she has a team of doctors who are treating her recovery and helping her heal.
The Cassandra Project — 90% Produced by Women
When she was in film school at USC, Barclay says that there were only four women in a class of 30 and although she thinks the USC film school has reached gender parity by now, women only represent seven percent of film directors industry-wide. Barclay says, “If The Hollywood Reporter or Variety write an article about a successful female director, people think, oh–problem solved.” But she says, “That is absolutely not the case. The number is still seven percent.” That is why she is telling the stories so important to women with a team comprised of 90 percent women. She says that is totally upside-down in the film industry. And despite all of her successes, she has had to fight hard for everything she’s achieved.
There are many more differences about The Cassandra Project. Barclay has never used crowdfunding before. The traditional way to raise money is through investors, then once it’s made, go through distribution and investors are paid back. But to get The Cassandra Project off the ground, Barclay’s friends have launched a crowdfunding campaign set to end October 28, so that everyone inspired by the intention and the message of the films can be a partner. Production is set to begin in January 2023 with a release date in October. Barclay plans to get the project reviewed by several film festivals and will enter it in the Oscars in the short film category. Beyond that, her team is researching how to reach a broader audience, i.e., the medical professionals who failed her so badly and women who have had similar problems getting their voices heard and believed. The goal is to get the film seen by as many people as possible, and to motivate them to take action and turn Barclay’s life-changing experience into a positive result.
Listen to or watch this conversation to find out more and hear the details of Barclay’s story. Go to https://www.thecassandraproject.net/ to find out more and to make a pledge. The clock is ticking on the deadline for crowdfunding. October 28 is only a few days away.