SILVERTHORNE, Colo. — When Mike Mazzanti and Jeff Kosloski set out to tell their next story, they weren’t sure what to expect.
“We were going to make a film, but we didn’t know it was going to be what it was,” Mazzanti said. “You’re not 100% sure how it’s going to end up.”
They also didn’t know what kind of impact it would have on them.
“It was a tough story to tell,” Mazzanti said. “I had to go deep every single day.”
“Everybody knew the story of Dave Repsher around here,” Kosloski said. “We all knew about the helicopter crash and all that.”
“That footage is tough to watch,” Mazzanti said of the hospital surveillance footage that captured the crash in 2015.
The two filmmakers knew the tragedy involving that Flight for Life helicopter and flight nurse Dave Repsher, or D-Rep as he’s known to friends, had a powerful message. So naturally, they started the story with the person closest to it.
“It’s hard for me to even put into words just how much support I had,” said Dave’s wife, Amanda Repsher. “It was humbling. I think they just told a beautiful story.”
That story, a documentary simply called, "D-REP: Fight for Lift," will be released to the public Monday. It took Mazzanti and Kosloski a year to finish.
“It was the last thing I thought about before I went to bed and the first thing I thought about when I woke up,” Mazzanti said.
It’s a story he knew he had to get right in this documentary, which ultimately became about love, perseverance and a burn victim at University of Colorado Hospital who shocked the world.
“I knew instantly that he was back because he looked me straight in the eye,” Amanda Repsher said.
“I relied on seeing Amanda every day and hearing her voice,” Dave Repsher said.
Dave spent 397 days in the hospital after that fateful crash in Frisco, Colorado, on July 3, 2015.
A crash that killed one of his colleagues and left Dave with a 10% chance of survival. Little did the world know Dave was a fighter.
“I had to honor all of those doctors and nurses and everyone who was pulling for me,” Dave said. “The best way I could do that at that time was to try to fight as hard as I could and make the best of every situation.”
“He was the worst burn victim to ever survive at the time at UCHealth,” Mazzanti said. “When he came in, he had burns over 90% of his body. The worst up until then to survive was 87%.”
“I would describe the recovery as challenging at best,” Dave said. “There were moments of just excruciating pain,” Dave said.
“The health care professionals are true angels,” Amanda said.
“We were lucky enough to have, not only each other, but the community around us,” Dave said. “That is a true blessing because there’s a lot of people who go through something like this alone.”
That’s the essence of the documentary Mazzanti and Kosloski ultimately captured.
“A story about, honestly, love,” Kosloski said. “The love between them and family and friends and all of that.”
“Studies show that love, family and support improve your chances of survival,” Mazzanti said. “The deeper I went, I finally got to this place where I uncovered a lot of beauty.”
Dave and Amanda now spend their days in Summit County, much like they did before the crash.
“I have a motto: Just get outside every day, no matter what,” Dave said.
“That dude shouldn’t have survived and he’s playing hockey again,” Kosloski said.
“There are so many people that have incredible stories to share and for University (of Colorado Hospital) to come to us and share our story was a huge honor,” Amanda said.
The film has now won multiple awards.
“It’s wonderful to know that you spent a year making something that is impacting people in such a positive way,” Mazzanti said. “Now, if something like that ever happens to me, the first thing I’m going to think about is Dave.”