Indy Film Fest: Not Just a Picky Eater filmmaker Eric Pascarelli
The documentarian behind the feature about people with ARFID talks about the therapeutic aspects of exploring his own eating disorder on film.
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Film Yap: This documentary is as much a personal journey as an exploration of an eating disorder. At what point did you think about marrying your filmmaking passion with ARFID?
Eric Pascarelli: After doing my first feature, “Chasing Rabbits,” I wanted to make a documentary short about something. A number of people in the past 1-2 years started telling me to do a documentary about my eating habits. The timing was right and it just made sense. There was not much awareness for ARFID and people always found my eating habits interesting. What started as doing a short ended up becoming bigger as I found more and more great interviews to do and it became a feature that I hope helps a lot of people.
FY: Have you learned anything more about yourself or ARFID in making this film you didn’t know before you started?
EP: I found out that I have an even smaller diet than I realized. I did a test with people in the documentary to tell me how many items they would eat off of the large Cheesecake Factory menu. Most normal eaters are able to eat around 120 things off of it whereas I am only able to eat around 5. I also found out that ARFID probably affects over 1 million people in the U.S. alone.
FY: Talk about the logistics of the production of this film: getting funds, finding your subjects, how long it took to film, etc.
EP: “Not Just a Picky Eater” was all self funded. What helps is that I am a videographer and was able to do a lot of the production stuff by myself. There were interviews around the country that I did have to hire a crew for though. I found some of the subjects on different ARFID social media groups. A huge help was that the founder of PickyEatingAdults.com, Bob Krause, introduced me to some great people to interview. Production started in November and the movie was completely finished and edited by the end of January.
FY: Why do you think there’s so much social stigma surrounding ARFID? It seems like shame was the one unifying feeling those who suffer share.
EP: People seem to look down at picky-eating adults and think we are being fussy by choice. A lot of us can’t eat at social events such as weddings or Thanksgiving which makes us feel isolated. On top of that, people are always questioning us for not eating or eating very plainly.
FY: Of course, people are going to ask: are you able to eat more foods now that you’ve completed this filmmaking journey?
EP: My eating habits have not changed at all since the documentary. After adding veggies and fruits to my diet via smoothie a few years ago, I have not really pushed myself much.
FY: What’s next for you?
EP: I hope to make the rounds with this documentary and to really push awareness for ARFID as much as possible this year. After that, I can see myself shooting another non-fiction feature or some short.