Director Kimberly Williams-Paisley got the idea for Shade by watching a CNN report about the disease xeroderma pigmentosum (XP). XP is a rare genetic disease in which patients cannot be exposed to sunlight or ultraviolet light without suffering severe skin damage. People with XP have over a thousand times greater chance of developing skin cancer. XP patients remain indoors during daylight hours and have specially tinted windows to block harmful light rays. A trip outside, no matter how brief the duration, requires special clothing that covers the body to prevent sun exposure.
Kimberly financed, directed, and took the lead role in Shade, where she plays Laura, a person with XP. Through Laura you can get a view into the life of someone suffering with this disease. You get to see what kinds of precautions an XP patient must take on a daily basis to avoid sunlight. For instance, in the film Laura works a night shift as a security guard. To get to work on time in the summer Laura must travel before the sun has gone down.
Shade also shows the life and death decisions an XP patient potentially faces on a daily basis, including a very sudden one in this film. Patrick Dempsey co-stars as Laura's husband, and Kimberly's real life husband, Brad Paisley, provided music for the film.
The Xeroderma Pigmentosum Society, which supports XP Patients worldwide, helped with the production. The XP Society runs a camp for children with XP called Camp Sundown. The camp activities all take place at night.
So little is known about diseases like XP that attracting the public's attention to raise funds for research is very difficult. It is more likely that an individual will give money to support research into more common illnesses such as heart disease or AIDS. However, according to the XP Society "all study on XP will help all people in the epidemic levels of skin cancer worldwide." Shade helps raise much needed awareness about this condition.
Shade has won several awards at film festivals and is available to the public for free. You can get a copy of the DVD mailed to you by contacting the film's official site or the Xeroderma Pigmentosum Society.