AARP is no stranger to producing video content.
The non-profit’s in-house production company AARP Studios premiered the six-episode “Date My Grandma” on its YouTube channel last year. Don Rickles’ final project before he passed away in 2017 was AARP’s “Dinner With Don,” a web talk show in which the legendary comedian interviewed his famous friends, including Robert De Niro, Billy Crystal, Jimmy Kimmel, Amy Poehler and Marissa Tomei.
AARP Studios is now officially in the movie business with its first feature film “Care to Laugh,” a documentary that follows comedian Jesus Trejo as he builds his comedy career while taking care of his elderly parents. Th film made the festival rounds in 2018 and AARP has teamed with distributor Gravitas Ventures to release the doc today on VOD.
“AARP Studios is producing a variety of rich and compelling content,” Julie Getz, director of “Care to Laugh” and AARP’s director of development for TV, film and podcasts, told Variety. “We’re always shooting to educate, entertain and inspire the 50-plus…So that includes everything from creating content online for the digital platforms to television to film. We’re creating content for all the multimedia platforms.”
The journey of “Care to Laugh” began in 2016 when an AARP survey of caregivers asked what they most needed and wanted. “The overwhelming responses were time and laughter,” Getz said.
AARP teamed up with the Hollywood Improv for a night of comedy for local Los Angeles caregivers. Trejo was the opening act for headline Jim Breuer.
“Anyone who meets Jesus quickly sees what an incredible human being he is. He’s a young kid trying to make it as a stand-up comic while juggling caregiving responsibilities for his aging parents so we felt once we met him we knew this was a story we wanted to tell,” Getz said.
Cameras followed Trejo and his parents for a year. While helping his mom Adelaida recover from surgery to remove a brain tumor, his father Antonio was diagnosed with stage 2 colon cancer.
AARP has screened the film in communities across the U.S. “It really resonates with people and it inspires people to have conversations about caregiving,” Getz said.
Getz said that AARP Studios is developing more film projects. “We’re definitely interested in scripted features,” she said. “We’re open and interested in all of it.”