Watch this Film: Jason Becker – Not Dead Yet

Today was a lucky and interesting day. It started with some weekend work tasks, which as anyone in IT knows is fairly standard issue. During the course of the day I was monitoring my Twitter feed and I saw this tweet from @JasonBeckerFilm:

So I emailed the team at and as luck would have it, I was given tickets to the show! I’ve been watching the project for a few months so I was super excited to see it come to Toronto in the Hot Docs festival. I’m a big fan of Jason Becker, and guitarists in general. The story of Jason being diagnosed with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) was well known among the musician community and a heartfelt struggle for Jason and his family. It turned out to be a great gift for my day to be able to attend the Canadian premiere screening.

The film, directed and produced by Jesse Vile, is neither a movie about guitarists, nor a movie about ALS. It is a story whose character Jason, had been given the ultimate gift of talent, work ethic, character and heart, and when these qualities culminated to what would have been fame and success beyond most peoples hopes and imaginations, he was given the ultimate burden at age 20; a virtual death sentence.

One quote stood out early on from Jason to his Mother. He was doing photo shoots and press work and he worried that he looked so young and innocent compared to the rough and road weary band-mates he was surrounded by. You’ll have to pardon my paraphrase, but he said something along the lines of “I don’t have any character in my eyes because nothing bad has happened to me”.

He was surrounded by a happy and loving family, enjoying the fruits of his years of work and on the cusp of the best part of his career. Little did he know that he was about to experience more bad than he had imagined any single person could face.

I don’t want to spoil the best moments for you as I would really rather that you experienced it yourself and truly get the joy of it first hand. The story couldn’t have been written this well from the greatest fiction writer. What makes it amazing is that it is simply a true, and inspiring story. The people who shared their stories on the screen were filled with humour and emotion all around.

When the movie came to a close, the audience exploded in applause, and you could truly feel the emotion in the room. There was a Q&A with Jesse Vile which was excellent and could only have been better if we could have had more time. I was able to have a quick chat with Jesse afterwards and congratulate him on his film. Many others in the crowd did the same, some literally brought to tears.

The filming, editing and production all around were amazing. The score perfectly tied together every scene and even though many people in the room may not have been fans of shred guitar, they were pleased for having been there.

Jesse was relaxed and humble about what we found out was his first project. I hope that we are able to see lots of future work from Jesse and his team. If you have a chance to see a screening; go. If not, then I suggest that you take the first opportunity to watch it on-demand or on DVD when it is released.

1 thought on “Watch this Film: Jason Becker – Not Dead Yet”

  1. Great review, Eric! Thank you again for coming out and for your kind words. I’m glad the film touched you in some way. Thanks again.


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