Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Stem Cell Video Flap: A Look at the Firm that Produced the "Docu-Series"

Bobby Sheehan discusses his personal and professional background in this YouTube clip.

Who are Bobby and Sara Sheehan, not to mention Working Pictures? 

It is a question that arises from their controversial "docu-series" that raised a ruckus this week in the small world of stem cell science.

Their online video, "Healthcare Revolution," was an unpleasant surprise for at least 12 scientists and other experts who learned only a few days ago they were appearing in the production. All of them asked to be removed.

They believed that they had been misled about how interviews that they had given many months ago were going to be used. 

They objected to sharing an electronic platform with dubious enterprises that are current targets of the federal government's actions to shut down dangerous and unproven stem cell treatments. 

Executives of those firms also appeared in the video in a manner that was considered a case of "false equivalency."

Earllier this week, the California Stem Cell Report queried Sara Sheehan about the video and their links to a California stem cell firm, Cell Surgical Network, with 100 national affiliates that the Food and Drug Administration is suing. 

The full text of her response runs below. But first a little background drawn from the Internet.

Sara Sheehan is executive producer for Working Pictures, according to its web site.  Her husband, Bobby, is producer, director, writer and cameraman. Their web site says Bobby had a "nomadic and slightly feral" upbringing. It also said, 
Sara Sheehan
 Working Pictures photo
"Collectively, they have produced well over a hundred hours of content in the form of online and conventional TV series, documentaries, and narrative films. Bobby has directed and lensed over 300 commercials…and they have produced three talented children."

The Sheehans are also associated with another enterprise called "Mortal," which deals with death and spiritual awareness. 

The California Stem Cell Report asked Sara Sheehan about the cost of the stem cell docu-series, which was partly financed by Cell Surgical Network, and any other financial ties with that firm.  Here is the verbatim text of her reply.
"I appreciate your asking us to provide additional information and I have answered your questions below: 
"We set out to produce a documentary series about the very complex regenerative medicine landscape. There is a lot of information out there and consumers are faced with a daunting amount of opposing opinions and concerns. We felt that by showing the entire landscape - including advances in research that will be providing hope to patients years down the line, the fact that many consumers are going overseas for treatments, the legislation that has been enacted in this country, patients who have gotten treatments in this country and other countries and their outcomes, and the lawsuits- we would educate the consumers who would see this and allow them to make the best decisions for themselves and their loved ones. 
"We looked for financing for the series, which took a year to make. We had investors, Drs. Berman and Landers (of Cell Surgical Network) were part of that team. Never did they ask to see edits, to control the content or interfere with the story in any way. That was the deal. The rest of the costs we bootstrapped ourselves: our investors did not pay us for our time and we covered many costs ourselves. We are not connected in any other way to Cell Surgical Network or any other regenerative medicine provider, nor do we stand to benefit financially from any procedures or products being marketed. We have no family members connected to Cell Surgical Network or any other regenerative medicine providers. The bottom line is that we are filmmakers who attempted to outline what is clearly a heated and emotionally charged environment. Ironically, Cell Surgical Network is featured most prominently in an episode entitled The Lawsuits, outlining the cases against US Stem Cell and Cell Surgical Network. We had updated that episode to reflect the decision against US Stem Cell. 
"We never paid anyone to be interviewed. In fact I have NEVER paid anyone to be interviewed for this project or any other project.
"After a year of interviewing and editing as many and as varied voices as possible, the resulting series is 12 episodes long. We organized the information by subject and feel we had a comprehensive product that provided a good, basic overview of the field that included many opposing points of view. There is a tremendous amount of information contained in the series that we felt showed as much of the landscape as we were allowed to capture.
"Unfortunately, a number of people expressed concern about being included in the project and we immediately responded that we would honor their wishes to be removed."

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