Local filmmaker’s documentary to be featured in KPBS series on ‘Challenges of Identity’

Del Mar screenplay writer Mike Carnick (left) with Carmel Valley filmmaker Jared Jacobsen.
(Courtesy of Jared Jacobsen)

After a run in the festival circuit, a local filmmaker’s documentary will be included in a KPBS series commemorating “The Challenges of Identity” in late October.

The 11-minute film, “Mike’s Words,” is about Del Mar screenwriter and playwright Mike Carnick. Carnick has a rare condition known as congenital fiber-type disproportion, which is similar to muscular dystrophy.

“The film doesn’t focus on his disability physically per se, but more emotionally and those types of issues that come along with having a disability,” said Jared Jacobsen, who directed “Mike’s Words,” which was released in 2019.

Carnick said in the film that he prefers to avoid “disability porn” by focusing on the medical aspects of living with a disability.

“I try to focus on the social aspects,” he said.

Jacobsen, who lives in Carmel Valley, said the film has received a lot of positive feedback, including several accolades from the festivals it has appeared in.

“We did an interview, we got some images of him in his daily life and he provided me some clips from his other films to incorporate,” Jacobsen said. “So, in that regard, it was very simple. It’s basically about him telling his story, but it’s really got quite a following.”

Carnick’s work has focused on portraying the social aspects of life with a disability. One of his short films, “Rolling Romance,” is about two people with muscular dystrophy, Orson and Janice, who meet online and go on a date.

“It’s not something you see in movies,” Carnick said in a 2013 interview with the Del Mar Times, shortly after the 22-minute film’s release. “So I thought it would make a really good movie.”

Directed by David Michael Conley, “Rolling Romance” was funded by Carnick’s family and more than $5,000 from an online fundraising campaign.

Another film Carnick wrote,“Who’s Driving Doug,” debuted at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in 2016. It follows Doug, who goes on a spontaneous road trip with Scott, an underachieving driver. The film is partly based on Carnick’s life. It stars RJ Mitte of “Breaking Bad” and Daphne Zuniga, who once starred alongside Eric Lynch in the TV series “American Dreams.” Lynch, who had a rare and severe form of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, was also an advocate for people with disabilities.

Jacobsen’s other work includes drama, documentaries, commercial and educational videos.

“It’s really rewarding to tell a story and get the project seen,” he said.

“Mike’s Words” will be one of three short films that air on KPBS on Oct. 27 at 9 p.m. and KPBS2 on Oct. 31 at 9 p.m.

“We’re definitely pretty happy to be a part of that,” Jacobsen said.