I am extremely thankful for the great opportunity to be a part of the Spark & Echo Arts 2015 Artist in Residence program. I was approached by John and Emily after completing and exhibiting my film ‘When I Walk,’ which looks at my diagnosis with multiple sclerosis and the seven years after. The film goes through and explores the life cycles and challenges that I’ve had over the past seven years. Now, two years later, I am proposing a new project called ‘When We Walk.’ It is almost as a follow-up to ‘When I Walk,’ but explores two significant differences. The first thing it looks at is my new relationship with being a father. A couple of years ago, my wife Alice and I had a boy named Jase. The film goes through and looks at my own mental changes and potential doubts of how I could be a father. The second aspect of the film looks at society and how accessibility is something that is critical to the participation of people with severe disabilities like myself. After ‘When I Walk’ was finished, my multiple sclerosis did not stop. It continued on and to this day, I am surprised at the new challenges that I have on a day to day basis. After the film finished, I continued not being able to walk and more recently I have lost use of much of my upper body and have slowly decreasing vision. these were not things that I expected with MS. ‘When We Walk’ will look at the intersection of these new aspects of my life and will reflect on my place in society today and how people with severe disabilities function in the world.
The passage that I chose reflects the themes of the film. It is from the Old Testament and still holds very relevant to my current life and to the stories and principles I’d like to pass on to others and Jase as he grows up.Romans 12:2
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
I’ve been shooting the film for two to three years now. I know this sounds like a lot, but in my films this is actually not that long. My films are using a technique developed by early cinema called cinema verite. Other examples of cinema verite are the Maysles Brothers (‘Gray Gardens’) and more recently Laura Poitras (‘Citizen Four’). During the Fellowship, I will be working on this film and building the story structure, which I have not yet had the chance to do as I’ve been filming every aspect of my life with and without Jase!