Mike Piccirillo – Director of “RUN 4 BEN”

An interview with Mike Piccirillo – Director of “RUN 4 BEN” on February 17, 2024 by George Ackerman, Ph.D, J.D.



Mike Piccirillo has over 25 years of experience as a crew person in the film and television industry. Some of his more recent credits include the films Jurassic World and Godzilla Vs. Kong and television series such as Westworld and Obi-Wan Kenobi.


He is an alumnus of UCLA’s Film Direction Certificate program, of which he graduated with distinction. He wrote, co-produced, and directed the short film “April,” which has received multiple awards and nominations. He also co-wrote, co-produced, and directed the award-winning short film “The Real Truth Behind The Real True Story: Donnie Miller.”


He also collaborated with several other short films and the successfully crowdfunded feature film “The Thing Before The Thing” (currently available on Amazon Prime). Originally a New Jersey native, he resides in Santa Clarita, California, with his wife, Wendy, and son, Dante.


Over the last 3 1/2 years, he has assembled a documentary entitled RUN 4 BEN. The film showcases one man’s journey into advocacy to support his father, who has Parkinson’s Disease.


Please tell me a little about your background.


I currently work in the film and television industry as an Art Director. As a side hustle, I am also an independent filmmaker. I have directed several short films and a low-budget feature film. I am currently about to complete production on my first documentary feature, RUN 4 BEN.
Can you tell me more about your advocacy?


The documentary became my gateway into advocacy for Parkinson’s. Over the last 3 1/2 years, I have been filming (and working closely with) Jamen Spitzer. I have been assisting him as he raises money and awareness for Parkinson’s, primarily for the Kirk Gibson Foundation For Parkinson’s and, more recently, Drive Toward A Cure. Our documentary is about how Jamen started running in marathons to raise money in honor of his father, Ben, who has Parkinson’s. Through our journey, Jamen has found his voice as an advocate for Parkinson’s. Our documentary will show this story and the impacts of Parkinson’s on his father and those around him.
What is your passion and how did you get involved in Parkinson’s awareness and hope for a cure?


The documentary was my gateway. I had very little knowledge of Parkinson’s until I met Ben and became a frequent observer of his struggles. This film’s purpose has become a means to educate those unaware of Parkinson’s and provide a glimpse of what it is like to experience the disease and how it affects the family and caregivers in its orbit.
What type of goals do individuals with Parkinson’s have when seeing your advocacy?


I hope that it provides a unique perspective to outsiders looking in. So many people have a very generic view of what PD is. While prominent figures (Michael J. Fox, Muhammed Ali) tend to be a reference for many, this documentary looks to tell the unique story of Ben, Jamen, and the Spitzer family. Furthermore, I want to encourage people to engage with outstanding organizations like the Kirk Gibson Foundation For Parkinson’s and Drive Toward A Cure.
What effect can your advocacy have on an individual with Parkinson’s?


I think in the instance of this documentary, the effect on the individual would be to give understanding to those who do not understand Parkinson’s and that this film might bridge more relationships for people with Parkinson’s and their peers.
What would you like to see as a future goal for your advocacy?


This film reaches people similar to my understanding of Parkinson’s before this project and gives them some insight into this disease and what people are trying to do to help those with it.
What events do you participate in?


I have been a part of the Detroit Free Press Marathon for the last four years with Jamen, raising money and awareness for the Kirk Gibson Foundation for Parkinson’s.

How does your advocacy also assist caregivers?


One of the great things about the documentary is that we learn about caregiving via the Spitzer family. We get a front-row seat into their experience.


How can someone get in touch?  What is your website?


How can others also become advocates for awareness?


We are raising funds to finish our documentary. We are crowdfunding since we are independent and not bound by a studio. Go to to donate. When the film is done, we will set up fundraisers and screenings for some of our favorite Parkinson’s advocacy groups.

If you could add any questions to this interview that you may want others to learn about, what would the question(s) be?


Anything regarding the documentary and the making of.

If you had one final statement or quote you could leave for the Parkinson’s community, what would it be?


The various people I have met with Parkinson’s along my journey have all been unique and extraordinary. I hope our little documentary can show the world Ben and Jamen’s story and the positive impact of advocacy.