In June, ACEP Now brought you the story of emergency physician and documentary filmmaker Ryan McGarry, MD, and his film Code Black, which chronicles life in the emergency department at University of Southern California Los Angeles County General Hospital. With a successful film launch under his belt and a television pilot being explored, Dr. McGarry recently sat down with ACEP Now’s medical editor-in-chief, Kevin M. Klauer, DO, EJD, FACEP, to provide an update on the film that has brought the reality of work in the ED to audiences nationwide.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 33 – No 10 – October 2014
KK: How did the opening of Code Black go?
RM: One could describe Code Black as a series of small miracles. It probably feels very similar to anyone who’s embarked on a push for a major grant. You get the grant, you’re so relieved that you got the grant, and you realize, “Oh my gosh, now that I’ve got the grant, I have to do the study.” And there are all the barriers and things that could fall through. In the same way, Code Black has been on that trajectory where at every point I’m guardedly surprised that we keep advancing, and a theatrical release is no exception.
New York was a big surprise for us. Your film is going to get reviewed by The New York Times when you open a film in New York—it’s partly why you do it—and they’ve been known to really be tough. When [the review] came out, man, was it great! They made us a Critic Pick, which is a pretty high honor; only a handful of films get that each year. New York is a pretty competitive place, and we held for two weeks there, which is very strong for a documentary, seeing that every Friday new films come in.
We premiered in L.A. a week later, and the L.A. Times gave us a glowing review. We held strong almost for six straight weeks here, which is really unusual for any film in the summer but especially for a documentary is almost unheard of.
KK: How many people have seen it so far?
RM: Around 50,000, including the festival screenings and everything else. Keep in mind that people see movies now at home on their laptops, on Netflix, on iTunes, so that’s still to come. We will be on those platforms around the holidays. We expect the greater viewership to occur at that time.