Friday, September 05, 2008


I am excited to finally announce the official title of our adaptive sports video, "Continue". I'm also pleased to announce the official launch of the film's website:

Once the film nears completion, additional content will be added to the website. Our goal is to eventually offer a free download of the film in various formats, including Hi-Definition.

Coming up with a title for our project was surprisingly difficult. Even more difficult than Jeff (my producer) and I could have imagined. When we first submitted the grant to the Paralyzed Veterans of America, we called our production "Take 2". Yeah... not the greatest title right?

For this project's title, we wanted something simple, subtle and thought provoking. After spending months and months of going through every conceivable title under the sun, we (Jeff and I) finally arrived at "Continue". I truly feel that this title encapsulates the point of our project, which is: life can go on. And furthermore, be an amazing experience. My mom also like it, so... there you go.

Both Jeff and I refused to go with the cliché titles like: "Overcoming Obstacles", "Inspirational Heroes" or "Ability Wow!" If you've ever spent time among the disabled community and/or read and seen any disabled related media, you'll know that these "gimp-obvious" titles saturate the market. They're used way too much and I understand why. For some reason, stories, websites and organizations have to have some type of disabled indicator in their title or else the public-at-large won't pick up on the disability angle. I think that we're now to the point, as filmmakers, broadcasters, journalists, and organizations, that we need to start treating disabled subject matter with the same style and integrity that we treat anything able-bodied. It's time to avoid using the classic fall back of inspirational lingo. The "gosh aren't they so heroic" treatment. What it does is tell people how to feel, and I think that's insulting to the public's intelligence and to the entire disabled community.

We want people to see what's out there and do in the style of any great sports documentary. If people feel inspired, great. If they don't, that's fine. But we absolutely don't want force inspiration or any other feeling onto our viewers. We still want the film to make an impact, but we want it to be genuine. We want people to look at the footage and go "Yeah, I haven't seen that before."

We believe this film will be groundbreaking. We hope you will to.

"Continue" is being made, first and foremost, for the individual who has just sustained a spinal cord injury. I know, from personal experience, what it's like to lay in the hospital bed and wonder: "What happens now? Clearly I'm alive, but what can I do with this new body?"

This film aims to present 28 activities that are available to individuals with spinal cord injuries or disease. It's a sampling of the most popular and available activities for people with varying levels of paralysis. Although the film won't cover each sport in great detail, it will (hopefully) show, using brief scenes, that life can continue. It will also give newly-injured individuals some visual examples of what's available, once they leave the hospital.

So why did we wait so long to unveil the project's title? Well, we had to get some graphics finished so that you, the audience, could see the title the way WE want you to see it. Also, New Mobility Magazine's latest issue features a story on Erik Kondo, on of our film's many talents. In the article, "Continue" is mentioned. Erik and his sparring partner Bob gave an amazing performance for our project and it's exciting to see them featured, with a photo from our production, in this national Spinal
cord Injury (SCI) publication. If you get a chance, find a copy and read the article. It's great stuff.

So there it is. "Continue". I'm excited because I no longer have to refer to our project as "Adaptive Sports Video".

Up next: Waterskiing with Bill Bowness!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Swimming: Boop boop dittum dattum wattum, choo!

Finally! After two failed attempts at shooting the swimming sequence, we finally made it to the pool. This particular shoot had been a long time in the making. To begin, it was extremely difficult finding talent that was interested in being our swimmer. Our production manager finally tracked down Dave Tims, a para who has competed in several veterans games. Yes, that's right... he is a veteran. Why is that important? Well, we desperately wanted to find paralyzed vets for our video since the production is being funded by the Paralyzed Veterans of America. Easier said than done. I'm not sure why the search was so difficult. Needless to say, we approached every hospital and program and followed up on every lead we could.

Once Dave was on board, we had to find an outdoor pool that looked good. Hmmm. An attractive pool you say? There are several in the valley, but the only one that would work with our production was Cottonwood Heights Rec Center. And as far as attractive swimming locations are concerned, theirs is the Heidi Klum of lap pools. Or Brad Pitt if you're, you know, into guys.

Our first attempt at shooting came on August 17th. We arrived at 6:30 AM, unloaded the gear, met Dave and his training buddy and waited for our lifeguard to arrive. He did. One hour late. By then we'd lost too much time and had to call off the shoot. Dave wasn't thrilled and either was the crew.

Our second attempt came last Sunday. I should note that Sunday mornings were the best time to shoot because of the privacy. The pool didn't open to the public until noon. So we had 7 to Noon to get everything shot. On this day, however, there were severe thunderstorms and light rain in the morning. Once again, Dave and the crew arrived. The crew consisting of Jeff and I. Lyse, the aquatics manager, met us and personally opened the pool. She's been great to work with. Unfortunately, we had to call off the shoot due to crap weather. Strike two!

Third times the charm! Perfect weather, 181.1-degree water, and absolutely no public to deal with. Andrew was our lifeguard and he helped us prepare by taking down the car dealership flags. We just didn't need them messing up our shots.

Shortly after 10 AM, we started shooting. Morning lighting is always ideal and baby... we had it! Dave swam back and forth several times and we captured the action from several different angles. I don't think Dave was thrilled with the fact that we were making him swim over and over and over again. But he gave it his all and that's all we could ask for.

Jeff and I shot all of our locked down (tripod) shots first. Then we put the camera in the underwater housing and shot handheld. Jeff swam with Dave to get some nice tracking shots from the water.

Jeff also set up a tripod and placed the lens just barely below the surface of the water. This created an interesting effect: Dave's body is visible both above and below the water.

Next, we loaded up the scuba gear and sank to the bottom of the pool for some underwater shots. I tried filming the sequence but my mask broke, so I turned the reigns over to Jeff. Dave swam back and forth above the camera and we got some great shots.

Our last shots were overhead shots. Dave was exhausted by the time we assembled the jib rig. After a couple of passes we wrapped the shoot.

Overall it was a fairly smooth production. Jeff and I were both glad to get the thing in the can. Especially after two previous attempts. Dave was very patient today. Most of the talent we've worked with have been incredibly giving of their personal time.

We now have nine productions left to shoot: waterskiing, jet skiing, rock climbing, fishing (take two), kayaking (take two), archery, gaming, mountain chair, and sailing. While that may seem like a lot, in reality it's --- yeah it's a lot. But I think we can get it done. We have to get it done in the next month and a half. Meanwhile, I'm still editing and working with two very talented post-production individuals: Zach (graphics) and Steve (sound).

More updates are on their way. And I promise to reveal the name of our project very soon.