Sunday, December 30, 2007

Production Update: The Last Post of 2007!

Tomorrow is New Year's Eve and I thought it only fitting to update Spinal-Cracker one last time before the dropping of the ball. I'm referring, of course, to the coming of the new year and not Chernobyl puberty.

Before I provide an update on the Adaptive Sports Video, tentatively titled "Adaptive Sports Video", I thought I would take a moment and comment on this blog. The purpose of this blog is to provide periodic updates on the status of the video I'm working on. For those interested in the production, you may find these ramblings interesting. For those interested in porn on the internet, this blog is not for you. And for those who think the very idea of blogging is pompous and self-serving, well, you are entitled to your own opinions. I for one look at Spinal-Cracker as a way of keeping track of things that I want to remember about a very important project. Important to me and (hopefully) important in the grand scheme of things. This is not a blog about Stan Clawson. This is a blog about our production.

Having said that, I thought I would give a brief update on what's been happening over the past few weeks.

I am currently working with the production team to secure dates, talent, locations and technical support for the following activities: Martial Arts, Wheelchair Basketball, Quad Rugby (a.k.a "Murderball"), Scuba Diving, and Sledge Hockey. This has been a monumental task, requiring a great deal of communication with individuals, teams, coaches, and business owners. Since this project is being produced outside of our "day jobs", coordinating our schedules AND the schedules of our talent, has been a very difficult task. That's one of the reasons this production has taken so long to get finished.

We are working with an individual by the name of Erik Kondo, a second degree black belt and founder of "Not-Me!", a self-defense program for individuals in at-risk populations. Here are some clips of Erik in action.

Erik is currently designing several sequences for our shoot. The best ones will be chosen and shot from multiple angles and at different speeds.

Just a sidenote: many people have asked if the sports we are filming are "real" or "staged". To clarify, everything we shoot is the real deal. We are filming real individuals with differing levels of paralysis, participating in the sports that they enjoy doing in their everyday lives. The only difference is, we are having these individuals perform in a somewhat controlled setting. Meaning, my team and I design the shots and make our talent perform several times as opposed to one time. This allows us to capture stylized shots that wouldn't be possible if we were shooting on-the-fly. In some instances, the physical exertion is greater than it would be in a natural (documentary) setting, because of the multiple-take aspect. But the sports, the people and the action is very real. The martial arts sequences, although shot multiple times, will be very real. Both Erik and I are adamant that nothing we shoot looks "staged".

We are also working with Sensei Berardini of the Utah Aikikai studio, who has been gracious enough to allow our crew access to his beautiful dojo, pictured below.
Our Location for the Martial Arts Sequence.


Mike Schlappi and the Wheelin' Jazz have agreed to participate in the basketball sequence of the video. I met Mike after my injury in 1996 and consider him to be one of the people responsible for my overall recovery. He's a great guy and I'm glad he's helping us with this video. He and his teammates are currently finding a shooting date that works for their schedules.


Corey Fairbanks and his Denver teammates will be our talent for the sledge hockey portion of the video. We chose the Colorado team because they have a large number of teammates with spinal cord injuries. The same cannot be said for our local Utah team, great though they are. This will be one of the most technically difficult sports to shoot, due to the fact that all of the action takes place on ice.

The scuba sequence will be shot in Belize, some time in March. We're currently looking at accessible hotels and diving outfits, as well as local underwater videographers. There will be more updates as this shoot draws near. We originally tried to shoot the entire video in Utah, unfortunately, the state isn't known for its breathtaking coral reefs.

The plan is to have our production edited and ready for an October 2008 screening. Which means my new year's resolution is no longer associated with diet and exercise. We currently have 1/5 of our production shot. These next few months are going to be extremely busy. Not only from a shooting standpoint, but also from an editing standpoint. I will continue to update everyone, as always. I can't guarantee that every post will be as mind blowing as this one, but I'll certainly try. And so, with that... I say: Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall

Friday's ATV shoot was cancelled, due to inclement weather. Rain and 18 mph winds weren't worth the five-hour-drive to Kanab. It's unfortunate when any shoot is postponed because it pushes our production back. This is the third shoot we've cancelled thus far. Most of our activities take place outdoors, and with winter here, the likelihood of perfect external conditions is greatly dimminished. We will have to re-visit ATV-ing in the spring when the sun returns.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Spice of Life

This Friday we will shoot an ATV sequence at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes. We have three ATV riders lined up, each with varying injury levels. All will kick my ass on the dunes and that's what I'm counting on. I think it will be a great shoot, with some fantastic scenery. I've always wanted to shoot a dune sequence. Ever since Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, the un-bastardized version.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

T9-10 Productions, LLC

Today marks the official start of my new production company, dedicated to providing a new level of vision. Ideally, I'd like to create media that focuses on disability culture and awareness. Sounds crazy right? Well, that's what they said to Thomas Edison and he seemes to be doing just fine. Okay, maybe fine isn't the right word, I mean after all he is dead. But for a while he did pretty well.

I'm currently in the process of designing the "look" of T9-10. A website is on the way, as is hoodies, baby tees, childrens books, posters, action figures and animal by-products. Very exciting indeed!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Riders on the Storm

Saturday was an exceptionally lucky day for the filming crew and talent. The forecast predicted rain...and rain it certainly did. Unfortunately we didn't get any shots of Lone Peak. However, we did get some amazing shots of the snow dusted, eastern mountains. Keith, his wife and his daughter put up with the crew and weather conditions, and for that I can't thank them enough.

Despite the weather conditions, we managed to get exactly what we wanted. Thus far, we've had a lot of luck on this project. I really feel that this film is going to wet the appetites of those who are recovering from a SCI. I hope that newly-injured patients and their family and friends look at this finished project as a glimpse into an exciting world, full of amazing possibilities. And yes, that even includes riding horses in the rain!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Cinderella Story

To say that the golf shoot has been hard would be the understatement of the year. Unlike other shoots, golf is particularly difficult because of the nature of the game and location. Golf courses have a constant flow of players, day in and day out. Finding a perfect window to shoot is extremely difficult. You can't just go to a course and say: "We'd like a 3:30 tee time and shoot at the 16th hole." First, a 3:30 tee time means you start at 3:30. It also means you start at hole one, not the hole of your choosing. Second, you may not get to the hole you'd like until several hours later. Which means, if hole 16 is the THE hole, you may not show up until three hours after your scheduled tee time. We had a 3:00 tee time on a partly cloudy day. That meant we had to find holes that we could get to right from the start and thus take advantage of optimum light.
Kevin was our golfer for the shoot. During our first shot of the day, he nails it. Ball on green! It was a beautiful thing to see. We managed to get all of our tee box shots finished before the clouds rolled in. It would have been nice to shoot some putting shots, but I think we got everything we needed.
I'm also glad we shot when we did. The fall colors peaked last week. Any further delay and I think we would have missed our window of opportunity.
The golf course was great to work with. We finished the entire shoot in two and a half hours. Nothing fancy, just down and dirty filmmaking. But the shoot went better than expected. And what a way to spend an afternoon: mountains, lenses, fresh air, Total Consciousness...Gunga Galunga!
Tomorrow...horseback riding!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

It's In the Hole!

Today's golf shoot was a huge success! I'll have a detailed update tomorrow, complete with photos and graphic nudity!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Location Scouting - Be Prepared!

As you may or may not know, our last attempt at filming the golf sequence didn't exacty pan out. In a nutshell, all eggs were placed in one basket and the shoot was planned around a location, sight unseen. After checking out the site, it was clear that another location was needed ASAP! The leson learned: Get the locations first, then plan the shoots. So, what is the best way to select locations for a video shoot? That is a very good question. I've given it some thought, and here's what I've come up with:

1) Don't limit your choices to one location. Have several, just in case one location doesn't work out.
2) Get photos in advance. Don't go to a location without knowing what it looks like well in advance. This will save
time, money and dissappointment.
3) Get permission to scout and possibly film at the location; and make sure the powers-that-be at each site are
comfortable with the idea of a production.

Today I scouted the golf and horseback riding locations. 170 miles later, I'm extremely happy with all of the locations that were inspected.


Following the golf course inspections, we travelled to Alpine, Utah. The horseback riding sequence requires a beautiful backdrop, and I think we found just that.


Lambert Park has great road access, which will allow for some interesting and (hopefully) dynamic tracking shots with the talent (horse and human). The golf shoot will take place next Thursday and horseback riding will follow on Saturday. Sunday, we shoot kayaking near Brighton Ski Resort. I'll update the blog as the shooting dates draw closer.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Today's Shoot Cancelled!

Alright, I have to admit that Thanksgiving Point is not the most ideal location for our golfing sequence. I had reservations about the course, but thought we might be alright. During my conversation with Jeff, it hit me. Like bolt of lighting. TG is not the place and I certainly don't want to settle. If we're spending the time to capture high quality video, our locations should be the cream of the crop. Here are some examples of why the course (although well kept) isn't very ideal for our shoot.
Sure, the green is nice, but check out the horizon.
Power lines, dead brush, sorry Thanksgiving Point, your horizon doesn't match the beauty of your fairways.
Development Hell.

So, now we're looking at other courses. Better locations to shoot the golf sequence. We're in Utah, there has to be a more beautiful alternative.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Long Time, No Tee!

9th Hole.

I realize it's been far too long since the last production update. For that, I am truly sorry. Apology said, here is the latest on the Adaptive Sports Video, tentatively titled Take Two. Tanja and I faced bumper-to-bumper traffic in our quest to see Thanksgiving Point's infamous fairways.

Tanja is a fantastic golf cart driver. Fantastic!

Lost and raining.

Finding a visually appealing location was difficult, but I think we narrowed it down to one hole. Number 9, Number 9. While the Point's fairways are beautiful, the horizon beyond isn't...beautiful. Gravel pits, church steeples and rampant development clutter the otherwise scenic skyline.

Sunday we shoot the golf sequence, weather permitting. We have two tee times booked so that we won't interfere with anyone's game. This will be sport number five of 33.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Keep your camera on the ball!

On Sunday, July 1st, Jeff, Tanja, Sue and I met in the Utah Swim and Tennis Club. Our talent, Dean and Emily arrived shortly thereafter. The trick was to wrap the shoot by 11, due to the blistering heat that's infested our state. Everything went incredibly well. We got some amazing shots and the lighting couldn't have been better. We wrapped around 11:30, which is amazing. The talent was great and did some amazing playing. To date this was our easiest shoot. I think we're all figuring out the best way to film this project.


I apologize for the lack of updates on the Cracker. This month has been fairly crazy. Our producer Jeff and his wife had a bouncing baby boy...very cool...and I had kidney surgery. Needless to say, I haven't been able to upload the tennis shoot post. But, for those interested in seeing what this humble narrator's insides look like, please scroll down. If not, procede no further!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Anyone For Tennis?

Tomorrow morning we will shoot the tennis sequence of the adaptive sports video. Time is a major concern because it gets very hot, very fast. Hopefully all will go well.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Happy Birthday Jeff!

Yesterday the big boss turned 40! Which, when you think about it, is really the new 30. I just hope he can make it long enough to see this project through. Ha ha!

Friday, June 22, 2007


Indy IV began principle photography this week. This has nothing to do with our production, but it's still pretty cool. Here's a first look. Photo courtesy of Mr. Spielberg.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Production Update: Rolling On A River Pt. 2

Day two of our adventure was just as exciting, if not more so. Today we made every attempt to minimize the wait, while the production crew set up shots. Rocky Rapids was the most elaborate setup of the enitre shoot.

By day's end, the participants, SPLORE crew and production crew were spent. We wrapped production shortly after Whites Rapid. I'm sure I could have kept going, but it was important to avoid overworking the cast and crew. I was extremely pleased with the shoot and hopefully everyone else felt/feels the same.

Production is a very time consuming process. I think a lot of people witnessed that firsthand. I'm extremely thankful to all of the participants for their patience and hard work. It takes a lot to look good on camera, especially when you're exhausted. They met the challenge and exceeded my expectations. The SPLORE staff was also very helpful. We certainly couldn't have pulled this off without their patience and expertise.