By Ed Karvoski Jr., Culture Editor
HOLDEN – Roberto Mighty of Holden hadn’t given much thought to aging until he turned 50. That’s when eye floaters appeared as small spots that drifted through his field of vision.
“I went to my doctor, and she said, ‘Don’t worry, you’re just getting older,’ ” he recalled. “I didn’t take it very well.”
This revelation inspired Mighty to explore the aging process via his work as a filmmaker. Now age 66, he’s the producer and host of a new public television series developed by his production company Celestial Media LLC.
“From the very beginning, I wanted to create a companion website so that people anywhere can log on and respond to my survey questions,” he noted.
Hence, he titled his project “getting dot OLDER.”
Project’s several-year evolution
Mighty started interviewing people age 50 and over in 2014. At the time, he intended to incorporate the interviews into an interactive museum exhibit.
“I began asking people a number of questions about their physical health, their mental attitudes and their experiences as they transitioned from being younger to older,” he recounted.
Numerous interviews later, he decided that his project should be a TV series with a website.
“Everybody has an interesting story to tell,” he said. “It’s a question of helping people to access that story.”
On March 6, 2020, he got the green light to produce his series of 13 half-hour episodes. Then the pandemic hit, halting his in-person interviews.
“Luckily, I had this idea to let people send their own selfie videos,” he relayed. “Even more fortunately, during the pandemic lots of people became comfortable with online video calls, so I could do some interviews using Zoom.”
Episodes of “getting dot OLDER” also feature brief commentaries by experts from several renowned medical schools.
Publicly sharing life transitions
Mighty has compiled interviews that range from heartbreaking to hilarious from people with varied work and life experiences. They reside in several regions nationwide. “It’s important to me that the show is as inclusive as possible,” he emphasized. “I’m interested in diverse perspectives on issues around aging.”
Initially, his interviews consisted of seven questions.
“Now, I’m up to 27 questions,” he said. “People have gone through interesting transitions in their lives and they want to talk about it.”
Among the interviewees in the pilot episode of “getting dot OLDER” is Ken, an attorney and an avid rower. Ken explained to Mighty that he manages his health challenges by rowing and other activities. “It’s an issue, I’m told, of muscle memory,” Ken added.
When Ken was asked about his “most profound life transition,” he spoke about his son dying of cancer at age 18. His son was sick for four years. “The hardest thing I had to do was say goodbye to him,” Ken shared. “… I tried to ease his mind from not feeling that he disappointed anybody by succumbing to the disease. He died in my arms and I have deep wounds from missing him.”
Interviews for future episodes
Mighty’s survey questions are posted on the program’s website. He encourages people age 50 and over to send their answers either written or videoed to his production company. “My staff and I will go through the responses and we’ll pick some to actually be integrated into the TV show,” he explained. “I anticipate that we’ll get thousands of responses.”
Has conducting these interviews taught Mighty the secret to successful aging? “The secret is that there’s no secret―other than stay active and socially involved,” he said. “The most valuable lesson I’ve learned from speaking with people for ‘getting dot OLDER’ is that we need to keep living life to the fullest extent we can up until the very end.”