L to R - Mike Kaney, Sara Kaney, Roman Medjanov
L to R – Mike Kaney, Sara Kaney, Roman Medjanov

When Rockbridge Productions Founder and Producer Mike Kaney was diagnosed with Cancer and given three months to live, he took it as a call-to-arms. Together with his wife Sara and Roman Medjanov (also a member of Rockbridge Productions and Co-producer), the decision was made to chronicle Mike’s investigation and attempts to rebuke the diagnosis for a film. What he discovered and displayed is an inspiration to those who have similarly been challenged. The False Summit is the depiction of this moving physical and emotional trek. Winner of Best Documentary at San Francisco’s NXT Up Fest (2019) as well as Best Short at LAFA, The False Summit merges the heights of real life drama and information in a tale which spans a wide emotional spectrum. The film’s Co-producer Roman Medjanov was personally and professionally as close as possible in terms of creating this film about his friend and collaborator. Medjanov’s determination to see the film to its public release is a passionate exhibition of supreme documentary filmmaking by this internationally lauded producer.

Mike Kaney. 2018. Having the bottle removed ater a chemo round
Mike Kaney. 2018. Having the bottle removed ater a chemo round

Far too many people have faced the experience of Mike Kaney. The doctors informed him that he’d likely live only three months and that chemo would ravage him physically. It was at this moment that Mike decided he would not only fight this battle but that he would also make it mean something for others. The decision was made to capture Mike’s pursuit of treatment and the effects; utilizing the smallest production team possible to capture spontaneous footage with handycams and cell phones. Medjanov was the only other constant besides the husband and wife at the center of the story; with the exception of the formal interviews which were shot by David Helling. Kaney’s amazing initial success led the production to an unexpected path as Roman states, “The doctors told him chemo would destroy him and he would lose all his hair but he went into remission and even kept all of his hair. By fighting the disease, he wanted to show himself that cancer should not be feared, nor should anyone facing it. We want this short to be a springboard to a bigger story. We initially wanted to do a feature length doc about his bout with cancer but as life and other projects came along we didn’t go through with it. We did keep filming though.”

From the footage of Mike’s valiant stand of defiance against fear and cancer, Roman has created The False Summit which displays the vulnerable trek of Mr. Kaney and realizes his wish of making the experience mean something positive for others. The critical embrace of The False Summit was swift and loud. Among others, two-time Oscar Winning producer Jana Sue Memel praised this documentary short and encouraged Medjanov to consider a full length documentary on the subject. Roman confides, “With the short film in the box we are moving ahead with the feature. It was always the goal but considering the feedback from just the short, we are way more motivated to make a feature and see Mike come through on the other end of his journey.  Seeing how well The False Summit turned out, it became apparent that this needs to be longer than twenty minutes. That the story of the central character is too interesting and the topic too big for such a short runtime.”