Category Archives: Lakeside


Lakeside Backstory


Acclaimed author Jay Lake is a prolific writer of fantasy and science fiction.  He has won a Writers of the Future contest and won the coveted John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.  He has been nominated for multiple Hugo and World Fantasy Awards.

Jay and baby Bronwyn - December 1999
Jay and baby Bronwyn – December 1999

Jay’s latest trilogy was inspired by his adopted daughter, Bronwyn.  The trilogy consists of  GREENENDURANCE, and his newest book  KALIMPURA which launches February 2013.


Jay maintains a daily blog in which he writes openly about his life and his struggles with cancer.


This film started as a story about how Jay Lake had beaten cancer.  He had been in remission for several months and everyone was pleased at how healthy he was looking.

We decided to follow Jay for one year, from birthday to birthday (or “JayCon” as he now calls his public birthday parties).

We began filming at Paradise Lost II, a writers workshop in San Antonio, Texas. Jay was a guest instructor with fellow author Steven Brust.  He was happy and in great spirits.

Jay Lake and Steven Brust
Jay Lake and Steven Brust

We followed Jay back to Portland to cover JayCon 2012.  He was among friends and family and was excited about the documentary.

Breakfast at Pine State Biscuits before JayCon 2012
Breakfast at Pine State Biscuits before JayCon 2012

When Jay sat for his first interview in his home, he fondly recalled his madcap childhood as son of a diplomat and his adventures across four continents and sixteen homes before he enrolled at the University of Texas.

Jay's first sit down for documentary
Jay’s first sit down for documentary

His mother, Sarah, sat for an interview and expressed how happy she was at his good health even as she revealed painful memories of a marriage gone sideways and of children she could no longer raise.

Jay's mother -- Sarah Bryant
Jay’s mother — Sarah Bryant

Jay’s step-mom and dad, Jody and Ambassador Joseph E. Lake (ret.) told stories of Jay as an inquisitive wild child and constant adventurer.

Jay's father and step-mother
Jay’s father and step-mother

And, after getting comfortable with the project, Jay’s daughter, Bronwyn, sat to discuss her life as a child abandoned in China who was rescued by Jay and his wife, Susan.

Jay's daughter speaks.
Jay’s daughter speaks.

The story of Jay and Susan’s courtship on the plains on Mongolia and their later decision to adopt a child just as his writing career was taking off is a beautiful chapter of this story.

Father and daughter walk on the beach as dark clouds roll in.
Father and daughter walk on the beach as dark clouds roll in.

Then, as we were filming, life happened.  It started with a call that Jay’s mom, Sarah, needed to be rushed to the emergency room.  She was suffering symptoms that mirrored Jay’s initial presentation of colon cancer.

The entire production changed tone as we were reminded that these are real people and that life doesn’t always follow the script.

Jay and Sarah
Jay and Sarah

Jay’s fear and guilt, as if he had somehow doomed his mother to a fate like his, was raw and emotional.

Jay watches over his mother.
Jay watches over his mother.

After that incident, the energy of the film changed.  We could all sense that there was more bad news to come before we would finish filming.

In August, the devastating news came.  Jay’s cancer had returned and three aggressive tumors were devouring his liver.

Jay reads the results of his scan and sees the bad news.
Jay reads the results of his scan and sees the bad news.

His first words after learning of the news were to his daughter who was sitting on the couch three feet away.

“Bronwyn, I’m sorry.”

The following scene was difficult to film and painful to witness.  It is not what this film was supposed to be about.

As Jay and Bronwyn started calling the rest of the family with the surprising bad news, Bronwyn kept strong and level-headed.  And then a family friend offered her words of sympathy and she momentarily cracked and became the frightened fourteen-year-old girl she really was.  You will learn much of Bronwyn’s strength and artistry from this film.

Bronwyn tries to keep it together as she calls the family with the bad news.
Bronwyn tries to keep it together as she calls the family with the bad news.

Within weeks, Jay was again suffering the desperate effects of chemotherapy.  Can he win this game of “kill the cancer, save the patient”?

Jay after 3 months on chemo.
Jay after 3 months on chemo.

That’s what we’re hoping for and that is now the film we are making.

Official trailer

Trailer #2

Trailer #3

Trailer #4  – 90 Seconds in a Life



Jay Lake reads bad news

New Lakeside Trailer

We’ve cut a new trailer as the story continues to unfold.  This trailer takes us from the beginning of filming through March, 2013.

This trailer also introduces new music by composer Will Manning.

“A small, desperate act of hope.”

Today we followed Jay Lake to Flying Pie Pizzeria.  The local eatery has hosted Jay’s annual public birthday party (also known as JayCon) for the last eight years.

A small, deperate act of hope

Today he reserved the party room for another JayCon this June.

When asked to share his thoughts about planning a party that is five months away, he said he considered it ” a small, desperate act of hope.”

His surgery next week will not only take out at least three tumors, it will also confirm if he has grown a fourth tumor while on chemotherapy.

What happens next will depend on the results of the surgery.  Only one thing is certain.  His doctors will be preserving samples of his tumor for the cutting edge “whole genome sequencing” that a recent fundraiser has paid for.  That sequencing could provide the best answer about exactly how to treat his aggressive cancer.

The things you catch when the cameras are rolling

During the course of making a documentary about author Jay Lake, it is inevitable that you will catch some things on film that he probably wishes we hadn’t.

Part of our filmmaking philosophy concerns full disclosure of information we feel the public has a right to know.

Below is an example.

Jay Lake on the Whole Genome Sequencing project.

Jay Lake spent half the day at medical appointments.  During a quick break for lunch between two of them, he explained the hopes and prospects for the “whole genome sequencing” that may be the key to saving his life.  Hopefully this testing will become part of the protocol for treating cancer patients.