Why Does Hollywood Not Consider those with a disAbility?

Logo___All_Chairs___WhiteBkgd
What and why is Hollywood so afraid of those with a disAbility? Why does Hollywood and nearly all of the Diversity Programs not consider those with a disAbility a minority? Why are authentic voices and representations of those with a disAbility REPRESESSED – IGNORED – DISMISSED AND THROWN AWAY? You say they are not? Then where are they? Even when Hollywood does consider including a person with a disAbility it is stereotyped characters and/or stories and none are written, directed or acted by a person with a disAbility. So their frame of reference is what? Someone they know that has a disAbility? Hiring a consultant who may or may not have a disAbility? Previous movies that were also written, directed and staring able bodied people pretending they know what it is like to live with a disAbility?

 

I have been working at a solution for the past 12 years and it is much more then just a single screenplay that I am pitching or saying that if you produce it it will make all your troubles go away! No, first of all, I have several film projects as various stages of development. Two fully completed feature length screenplays, three short film scripts and several short stories aching for me to adapt into screenplays and then be ready to go into production! Second, all of them have three specific elements that are rarely if ever combined in the same film. Thirdly, specific marketing and distribution strategies that will attract all potential moviegoers based on genre, ratings and even mere curiosity since nobody has exposed them to this point of view and the disabled consumer market segment that has been alienated and even slapped across the face with nearly all previous attempts to REPRESENT our lives. This fact alone will garner theatre tickets to be paid from soon-to-be loyal and returning consumers that have been waiting for authentic voices and representation seemingly forever!

 

Meanwhile throughout the past 12 years and especially the last 2 years I have vigorously been contacting many in the business to present this well planned solution. Yet why do I not get a response, even a courtesy rejection? This only goes to proving how we are ignored and dismissed. Why is this, that even when someone with a plan is not even given a notice of “we are not interested”? Is it because they are afraid? I ask why? What is there to be so afraid of? Since I have the plan and the material to answer to every question and objection someone would have in providing an authentic voice and representation in today’s movies and television, I can only come to the conclusion that by not giving me even a courtesy rejection they can proclaim innocence to the problem or to the depth of the problem. “I didn’t know!” Well, I have a list of 87 people in various companies in Hollywood, from studio executives, to indie divisions, talent agencies, management companies, entertainment lawyers, to entertainment columnists, to celebrities that I have selected based on how involved they are in making movies in Hollywood, such as their own production companies, to those within the business that I thought would be helpful due to their own personal experiences with a disAbility or someone with a disAbility and/or through their contact info such as their through their agents, publicists, managers or staff at their companies. I have documented all of these attempts from phone calls, faxes, emails, and letters to their attention! Guess what? Ignorance is not an EXCUSE! Blame your assistant, your agent, your manager, your publicists, or staff but your name was on the communication that you have failed to even give an answer. What? Legally you couldn’t respond because it did not go through proper channels? A personal communication where I am NOT pitching you an unsolicited screenplays which you will only consider coming from an agent or attorney (everyone knows this and that is why I just want to ask about those with a disAbility and your interest in authentic voices and representation or the films you HAVE NOT produced) and therefore cannot be dismissed through the lame excuse as “proper channels.”

 

So it must be that Hollywood is afraid. Afraid of what? Those in a wheelchair might dominate and take over the industry? Afraid that they will have to pour money into films that will that have the same potential as any other film to not make any money in return? I have an answer – I have commercially viable film projects that happen to provide an authentic voice and representation and therefore will be breaking the stereotypes and helping to end the discrimination. Is providing both social and business solutions within my film projects not enough? Is it that by not recognizing those with a disAbility as a minority you can easily just create an “outreach” program that sits around and pretends to care? Take applications at your job fairs but never provide for a fair and equal opportunity? Oh, wait by doing these things you can say that you are helping even if this is shell companies and programs because nobody is questioning them. Well I am and I am being contacted regularly by those with a disAbility who are experiencing this first hand. If these diversity programs and outreach gatherings are working where are the products that show the diversity of using those with a disAbility in Hollywood?

 

Here is a quick look at some of the facts that are supported through links and direct documents found throughout AbilitiesUnited.com.

 



  • An overwhelming majority of the Diversity Programs in Hollywood DO NOT include those with a disAbility.

 

  • Even the press such as Variety, Hollywood Reporter and the LA Times reports on Multi-Authenticity and Diversity only speaking of racial, nationality, gender and sexual preference as minorities. I have even tried getting a hold of The Oprah Show, Larry King and Montel Williams Show. The only exception is when a film like “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” come along and they can talk about how it “transcends the human condition” which is another STEREOTYPE.

 

  • 2005 SAG report on Performers with a disAbility prove the incredibly blatant and wide-spread discrimination right down to the auditions.

 

  • “There are approximately 54 million Americans with disabilities, and yet they remain virtually invisible in the media.” This is the first line in the SAG report.

 

  • By way of comparison there are approximately 40 million African Americans, 40 million Hispanics, and 15 million gay, lesbian, transgenders, and yet the largest and fastest growing minority over the past decade – that will continue to be the largest and fastest growing as the Baby Boomers enter retirement age when disabilities are more likely to occur, and with the returning military men & women from Iraq and Afghanistan with injuries and disAbilities are ignored, dismissed or a the very best given Hollywood stereotypes and blatant discrimination to represent them.

 

  • One of several recommendations of the SAG report says the industry needs to “Advocate for the inclusion of performers with disabilities in all diversity employment initiatives. Address images, language and attitudes that contribute or hinder inclusion in the workplace.”

 

  • Even of the very few movies that feature a character with a disAbility nearly all are written, directed and acted by the able bodied. There are virtually no authentic voices or representations in Hollywood.

 

  • Even of the very few movies that feature a character with a disAbility they nearly all are stereotypically all about the disability, surrounded by a political agenda, or predictably inspirational.

 

  • After nearly 3 years since the SAG report on this incredible, industry-wide discrimination of those with a disAbility – virtually nothing has changed.

 

So what is the answer? How can this change? Will it ever change even if given a complete solution? After the business community has rejected my proposals based solely on the fact that my company is in the entertainment industry (read more at AbilitiesUnited.com) – I have turned my last hope to the entertainment industry. Surely they will see – after all we speak the same language of art and business. But despite the numerous attempts, they have rejected me, ignored, dismissed, tossed me away without even a “sorry there is nothing I can do, but good luck” from everyone in Hollywood that I generally listed above. I have tried to be personable, creative, determined, informative, and nothing has worked to even get a response! Wait a minute there has been two responses – one from a manager of a well a known actress and one personally from an actress (which the most surprising is that she is one of mine favorites) which I did not send a communicative asking directly for her assistance – so it was a round about way and at least she expressed concern and support – which I can not express how much that has meant to me. But, two out of more than two hundred attempts (many of those listed above I have tried multiple times to follow up or to get any response) and so less than 1% is not going to do anything – especially when neither of the responses where to the question of assisting in this mission.

 

So now what? I have prepared to make a mark on this by presenting or trying to present a solution. Recently I have mentioned that I will mobilize the disability rights organizations and advocates along with support groups, the entertainment news media and the 54+ million Americans with a disAbility, their families & friends to protest and bring attention to Hollywood on the problems since they will not give the solution to their repressing actions they force on those with a disAbility any attention. Here are the options.

 

  1. Produce one of my short films – “Glacial Breeze” is the front runner!

 

  1. Producer one of my feature films – I prefer “London Time” but I love and have fans of “Forever Yours” too!

 

  1. Produce a documentary film that will turn the cameras on Hollywood and name the names on all of my documented attempts I have made to get anybody’s attention to this problem.

 

  1. Produce the Protests as mentioned above to focus on the blatant discrimination and problems – which there are many as I am listing in this entry – through out the blog and my website – that the industry forces on those with a disAbility.

 

So which one should I focus on? I am tired of beating my head and heart against the Hollywood wall and nobody apparently caring. Even if we were given the selected opportunity for an authentic voice and representation that they give many other minorities – at least that would be something – but we do not even get that. If I am lying or even exaggerating where are these authentic voices and representations?

 

So I need to focus on one and push it to completion. And I will. I have not given up in over 12 years even with the massive obstacles and rejections, personal sacrifices, and I surely will not now. Especially since this Mission and my passion for storytelling on film is the main reason I wake up every single day with the hope that this is going to be the day, despite all my added physical, emotional, and social challenges I will face because of being a paraplegic, that this will be the day I will get the assist to launch what we will all look back on and say was the beginning of the “turning point” for those with a disAbility on both sides of the camera in Hollywood.

 

I am curious, who will it be that contacts me or that accepts my call and to add their Abilities to be United with me and soon to be so many in “Breaking the Hollywood Stereotypes & Ending the Discrimination of Characters and People with a disAbility.” Providing a permanent solution with Abilities United Productions providing an authentic voice and representation and becoming a home for Hollywood with disAbilities!

Advertisements

Been Here & Done That!

Hello everyone, anyone? Well I just wanted to say that I am still here! I know its been a while since my last blog entry – but I have been busy with the website and for about 6 weeks went back to work full time – until I was let go 2 weeks before Christmas. 

Everyday right now I hope will be the day that all of this will be recognized by someone. I contact people in the business everyday. They never respond but I continue to work on this from the time I get up to even while laying in bed before going to sleep. My plans to make it to Sundance – a mere 2-3 hour drive south, to create awareness and gain support for this Mission was obviously not meant to be. Moving back to LA, after 20 years will happen sometime this year. My resources have once again dwindled, thanks in large part to not getting Abilities United or any of the film projects funded and being let go from the damn job. So I am back to the mercy of the money gods!

Meanwhile, I have made some good discoveries – well they are not so good but it is good to discover them so that I can address them and then move forward. It came to my attention that most in Hollywood assume there are programs that are like mine – or that help those like myself, that have a disAbility and want to contribute an authentic voice to express my point of view of the world! BUT that is a false assumption Hollywood! Even your own Diversity Programs primarily focus on those of a racial or nationality minority. Gender and alternative lifestyles or sexual preference whatever fucking politically correct term you want to use to describe a minority that is less than a quarter of the size of the disabled community – yet they have programs on television, movies, an entire cable network and diversity programs that are substantial enough to provide an authentic help for their authentic voices! If you did not come here from the homepage, then I strongly recommend that you go back to AbilitiesUnited.com and find all the new stuff I have added.

So if I hear of one more minority bitching in the news about not having a fair representation of the size and importance of their group in today’s movie and television programs – and it is not from one of the 54+ million Americans with a disAbility – I may totally fucking lose it! I am already on the edge – after all I am at the end of the rope – again – it is not the first time. In the past 12 years, if I take off my socks, I could count the times I have been here. It causes a lot of anxiety. But the only thing I have to hold onto, so I guess you can say that the rope is hope. I damn sure hope and on occasion just know that it will happen today. And when the day ends as it is right now, I cling to tomorrow!

I do not worry about making this Mission happen – I know I will – I have come too far and been through too much to make this happen – to break the stereotypes and help end the discrimination of those of us with a disAbility by providing an authentic voice and representation. I am more concerned about WHEN. What is going to happen to me while I continue this dedication, passion, sacrifice. This is it, this is  my everything and as it has been made very clear to me – it is all I can turn to, their is nobody or anything that I can turn to. So let us all sleep well tonight, dream of tomorrow and when we wake, smile, genuinely and positively smile and have the attitude, force yourself out of bed, drag yourself into your chair, plop into the bathroom and get ready for this will hopefully be the day that the we move to the next level. I am not foolish enough to think that will solve all the problems – but it just means that finally after 12 long years and the 4,380 days of keeping it real – that I am making progress that is not alone or confined to my dreams and my computer! That day is coming! Will it be tomorrow? Cling baby, cling as I hope it is!

Catch 22 with Authentic Voices

I work so hard at selling Hollywood the authentic voices of those with
a disability.
My authentic voice of those with a disability and then in the
future other’s can provide their authentic voice of those with a disability through
Abilities United Productions. The crazy part is that the disabled community is
the most diverse – it includes those who belong to all other minorities and
whether a person is born with or acquired a disability the one thing that is a
constant is that the disability affects those of all backgrounds and does not
discriminate – it afflicts those from all races, nationalities, economic class,
gender, lifestyle, age, no one is immune.

 

Forget about the voice for a moment and just concentrate on
the authentic. Being a person with a disability is extremely difficult and
nobody except those with a disability can understand all that it includes. The
problem I have is with the contradiction I face everyday of my life. I try so
hard for everyone else to see me, treat me, love me, hate me, desire me, think
of me as no different then the man standing
next to me. Treat me the same but I am not the same and in no way can expect to
be the same. In this effort I guess what I am really trying to do is have you
treat me as fairly as you would the person standing
next to me. What I want is for you to look at my eyes, my heart, my soul
without the judgments and stereotypes, the pity, the fear of saying the wrong
thing, the book cover, the pre-conceived notions of those with a disability.

 

But how do I get you to look beyond all of that when it
seems my mere appearance cannot help but have those challenges on the front of
your mind? I feel I can only do that if I hide the pain, the challenges that
are physical, emotional, social, economical, because I fear if I show just a
moment of any of that then it will take away from all of my efforts of being
seen as a man first, a person, a human being treated as equal to the man standing next to me. And this is a
challenge that has to be added to those I am already facing day in and day out.

 

I just watched “Talk to Me” with Don Cheadle who is a great
actor and the film was a great story and it reminded me of a thought I have
from time to time and especially when I liken my work of breaking the
stereotypes and ending the discrimination in Hollywood of those with a disability
– to the stereotypes and discrimination of black characters and actors and
people before the time of the great actor Sidney Poitier and the filmmakers
around him in the 1960’s. Interesting part that struck me was the fact that
those of us in the disabled community do not have a spokesperson, someone to
stand up for us on a national stage like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or Malcom
X. Maybe it is because we are so diverse and those with different disabilities
are almost like those of a different race. But when we come together we have an
unspoken connection and can still relate to one another through the common
challenges that at the very least the same in societies’ opinions and treatment
toward us all with a disability.

 

As far as culture that we as a community have and is often
ignored thanks in part because of the Hollywood
stereotypes and incredible discrimination of those with a disability – there is
a voice and in some cases a language that only those within the community can
understand. “That wheeler is twelve years post banged T-7,8 complete! Bagged or
intermitted. Reflex, voluntary, manual, digital, managed, powered.”    

 

We do have a voice and my conflict of contradictions between
the life I lead and the face I present to the world so I am hopefully treated
the same as the man standing next to me is part of that voice! Both are crucial
elements of my life – so writing stories that do not have much to do with the
disability and ones where it is more prevalent as to the character and what he
or she is dealing with are both a part of the authentic voice. I never ignore
the disability in my screenplays and stories but I also do not focus on it –
and I try to show those characters in ways the general public is not familiar
with and then go – WOW! Similar to the audiences’ reactions to the documentary
film “Murderball” about the quad rugby team preparing and going to the
Paralympics and won the Sundance Audience Award! My screenplay, “London Time”
provides moments, certain scenes including the opening scene that changes that
perception, stereotype even when the majority of the story you forget that
Detective London is even in a chair!

 

Other stories it is more prevalent like the three vignettes
about wheelers dealing with love, sex and relationships. Or the “Up, Up and
Away” about the pilot wheeler who crashes in the Rockies on his solo flight to
his writing retreat and it shows the old castaway story in a new light from a
new perspective, well new to the general able bodied audiences and I hope, I
certainly feel it is entertaining!

 

Maybe in some way I will make this challenge of
contradictions more of the make up in one of my characters but in the meantime
I am satisfied that all are authentic voices of those with a disability! The
more that can be shown the better the representation – but first we have to
convince Hollywood that even one of these stories is an authentic voice and
that they better help us portray it on the big screen before a media force
begins focusing on the FACTS of their blatant discrimination and awful stereotypes
of those with a disability on both sides of the camera continues regardless of how one of it’s own guilds – SAG pointed out these facts over 2 years ago and still nothing has been done!

 

Wake up Hollywood – I do not want to focus on the problem
but rather feature the solutions and I have detailed them out in every respect
– and speaking of respect – how is the lyric go from the queen of soul, Aretha
Franklin? “R.E.S.P.E.C.T. find out what it means to me!” You better realize
what it means to all of us – all 54+ MILLION AMERICANS with a disability!

 

This is Fair Warning, Hollywood,
otherwise a writers strike is nothing compared to the way of public relations
trouble this will bring! So do you want to talk to me about the problems or the
solutions?
Either way you will be talking about it soon! If we take this to the media to talk about the problems, I already have a list of people and companies who have ignored me and I will not have much of a problem talking about the exact treatment and replies or non-replies I have gotten so far! And if you think you can call on ignorance as an excuse – think again – think again!

I am going to be
“Breaking the Hollywood Stereotypes of Characters and People with a Disability”
and it is your choice to cooperate and be known for helping end the
discrimination and stereotypes or for continuing to repress and ignore those
with a disability. Again, I am going to make it happen, how it happens is your
choice!

What’s Up, Doc –umentary film?

I have to apologize for the rather long blog posts lately! I ramble and sometime too much! But I do try and keep them all relevant and hopefully thought provoking. Today I have been seriously thinking of recording, documenting my journey in providing the authentic voice and representation of those with a disability in today’s motion pictures!

Maybe if I turn the camera on Hollywood and ask them the questions I have been politely in phone calls, letters, and faxes and bring a camera to their offices for a response, that should get an answer, right? Only if the documentary film actually gets shown – so it would be real important that it delivers the same Hollywood medicine that it dishes out!

The questions I am and would ask with a doc camera:

Does everyone deserve to be heard and be given a fair and equal opportunity regardless of race, gender, age, nationality, lifestyle or disability?

With over 54 million Americans with a disability, compared to the approximately 40 million Hispanics, 40 million African-Americans, and 15 million gay, lesbian and transgenders, deserve to have a voice and be represented in today’s motion pictures?

Is it important that the voice and representation be authentically written, directed and acted by those from their respective minority or sub-group?

Doesn’t every business want to capitalize on niche product that has universal, wide appeal?

Why is that nearly every other industry in America made changes to their product, service and/or marketing to attract the disabled consumer market with an aggregate income that exceeds $1 trillion annually and has over $220 BILLION in discretionary spending power, except for the motion picture and television industry?

Why is it that an industry with so many of its individuals, companies, organizations and associations proclaim how inclusive they are to all people, all nationalities, all races, all ages should be given an equal chance or at the very least an opportunity to voice their opinions and be heard — except those with a disability? What? That isn’t true? Show me the motion pictures that have been either produced or distributed with one of the established studio names on it, and that includes those “indiewood” companies that the studios have boughten or created such as Miramax, New Line, Searchlight, Vantage, etc. that feature a character with a disability. How many are there? And of those how many are stereotypical? Stereotypical meaning they either center on the disability, are surrounded by a political agenda, or are predictably inspirational? And of those, how many are authentically written, directed and/or acted by someone with the same or similar disability?

Isn’t not being able to walk, or see, or hear to any degree let alone at all, a little more then having a dialect coach for an Irish accent? What would  you think if the writer and director of “Boys in the Hood” or “Do the Right Thing” was Clint Eastwood or Brett Ratner? And acted by Ben Stiller in make-up? How authentic would that be?  Do you think it is not as significant being paralyzed as it is to be African-American? I am NOT saying they are the same or equal in “being” but I am saying that despite the talents of the actor, being able bodied and acting paralyzed is equally authentic as a white actor acting black. Eminem doesn’t count!!!

The days of Al Jolson’s in a wheelchair are over!

So I have the questions, but ` what about answers to what I can only presume would be Hollywood objections or concerns. The main one being audiences might not want to see a person with a disability because it reminds them of how finite and delicate this life is.
Answer: The 2005 Sundance AUDIENCE Award went to “Murderball”! Today’s audiences are intelligent and discerning. They also want to see things from a different perspective and so long as there are some universal points they can relate to, such as not being accepted in certain circles, overcoming challenges, etc. they will love the movie.  It is about story and character and in a fresh, new way of presenting it that is what I strive for.

There is risk in new ventures and that can be really expensive. Why risk on this perspective that has never been all that successful unless it was in a stereotypical story and portrayed by able bodied – name recognized actors?
Answer: Simple it is always a risk. And while the risk of losing can be significant – so can  the potential for profit! Stereotypical roles and stories will only get you a limited audience and especially today and therefore will not be that successful and in fact would most likely not make any ROI. Something a little different, risque, touchy subjects, Brokeback Mountain, Little Miss Sunshine, Crash!

And I know I can attract and attach a name recognized talent to co-star with my actor with a disability for at least two reasons. One is the script, character and story. They are good parts and co-starring roles not supporting roles. Second reason is that actors know what it is like being an actor. Actors are passionate people and just like how my storytelling on film goes to who I am, acting is for actors – A-Listers were not always A-List actors, they know what it is like to struggle in getting parts and parts that are good! And when I present to them how their participation in my film(s) is going to help end the discrimination against those in their own field of acting – that there are plenty of actors out there right now that are struggling just as they did BUT add the discrimination – the largest discrimination of those with a disability then most industires – they will want to help end that terrible injustice!

And my company vision is that one day, in the future the actors with a disability will become household recognizable A-List talent just like the able bodied celebrity counterparts of today!

There are other questions and guess what – there are answers for them too! Bring it on and I can answer them for you! And Hollywood better hurry up and ask me otherwise I am going to be asking them questions and I will have a camera operator with extra battery packs with me! What’s Up, Doc?

Hello. Hello? Anybody Care?!

* Caution* Like the television commercial for tv ratings and
parental control over content – you may have to block me or this post! Before I
start (actually this is added after I just re-read my frantic, heart felt
thoughts that I wrote for this blog entry) that I must say this entry has more
colorful language then most of my previous entries! Since the word beginning
with “F” has appeared more then once I am not qualified for a PG-13 and
therefore will get the fucking “R” rating! Hehehehehe!

You know I have been talking, sometimes incessantly,
sometimes yelling and screaming about the fair and equal representation of
those with a disability, breaking the stereotypes and ending the discrimination
of those with a disability in today’s entertainment media for 12 years! 12
fucking years. But I am not one who just sits around and screams about the
injustice – I have been WORKING to change it. I sacrifice everything including,
at times, my sanity! I do not do this just for the sake of it – or for the fame
so I can become the next Steven Spielberg – or to make a lot of money and
afford the house in Newport Beach, CA or in Brentwood, Malibu or other
sometimes exclusive Hollywood or certainly for only the wealthy neighborhoods!
I do this because it is who I am! I love telling stories – and love putting
them on camera! So ever since I became paralyzed and saw there were hardly any
movies about those like myself and the movies that do are so stereotypical and
portrayed by fine actors but able bodied just makes me wanna scream – REPRESENT
– come on, man, who is representing those with a disability. For a while it was
Christopher Reeve – who was always underrated in my opinion – but just to think
of it – he was Superman and even then the representation was limited. Maybe it
was because of the opportunities provided him even though he was an
accomplished actor, or maybe his ability, but I know it was not because of his
passion or desire for his work – his lifetime of work! But now unfortunately,
or maybe fortunately depending on your perspective (knowing he is in a much
better place now then he was), he is not longer with us. Physically speaking
because sometimes I feel him smiling and encouraging me when I am working my
work! But that is not getting me anywhere past this damn computer screen, hard
drive, memory and keyboard!

I feel like I am in this big room of Hollywood
makers and players. They are on the stage in a roundtable like forum – you know
like at some of the film fests that are into actually helping the independent
filmmaking community and not just to celebrate the latest “indiewood” films?
But the floor is so crowded that I cannot get anyone’s attention! Well, that is
not completely true, I should clarify as anyone’s attention on the stage
because those on the floor with me, my fellow kindred spirits of the indie
world, do have a response but only when I run over their fucking toes with my
wheelchair! That is also not completely true as there are some that feel I am
admirable in my goals and inspirational in tenacity. But as much as I
appreciate the understanding and the occasional praise – it does nothing to
change things! I have the work, I have the answers to nearly every question
about the true and accurate representation through an authentic voice of those
with a disability in the movies and all I need is one of those on the stage to
listen – for 5 minutes and I know they will see what I see. But I raise my
hand, scream and yell words that in most circumstances would stop fucking traffic
in the business world – NICHE PRODUCT for a well underserved market segment –
yet still maintains UNIVERSAL APPEAL – NEVER BEEN DONE but COMMERCIALLY VIABLE.
And words that in the social world also demands attention like – STEREOTYPES –
DISCRIMINATION and the worst against those with a disability then most other industries
– LARGEST & FASTEST GROWING MINORITY in America with the LEAST
REPRESENTATION, and yet I still cannot get that 5 minutes from anyone on that
damn, fucking stage!

 

Well I am raising my hand but there are so many on the floor
where even if I were in the second row I would not be seen sitting from my
chair because everyone else is standing and so much taller then me that I am
invisible to those on the stage. In fact I can barely see them by looking
between hips, shoulders and raised arms! So I will work my way to the front
row! From those on the floor – competing to do the same thing – they want the
same 5 minutes with someone on that stage of Hollywood makers and players! So
unless I find someone who will allow me out of the goodness of their heart to
move aside so I can work my way in front of them and all the way to the front
row where they will then see that standing behind me sitting in my chair, in
front of them they have lost nothing and are still easily seen and therefore
preserving their potential and suddenly still reap the rewards of the feeling
that result in giving rather then receiving. I have to wave that damn
disability card, play on their sympathies, scream how they are being so unfair
to the poor disabled man! Evoke that which is the last thing I want – the thing
I work so hard to pull away from – pity, pity, pity, me! I hate that shit and
have never been one to want it even if it helps me get something I really want
like a restaurant table before everyone else and play it down so I can impress
my date that it is only because of my character and impressive accomplishments,
of who I am and NOT what I am. I know that will only fool my date if she was
blonde – but hey, that blue eyed, dark haired woman that I have a weakness for
and am more attracted to, won’t do it on the first date! And that would be okay
if I got some recently! Like this year!  

 

So finally I get to the front row and I can see them on the
stage and I know if they look they will be able to see me too! But guess what?
Those on the stage of Hollywood players and
makers are some of the most thoughtful, civil minded, equal rights for everyone
regardless of nationality, or gender, or religion, so much that they are
looking all over the floor and all the way to the back row so EVERYONE has a
fair chance and therefore look right over the first row! If I had only known
that, if I could’ve seen from the crowd of able bodied crowd members standing
and therefore blocking my view from seeing what those equal rights and equal
opportunity players and makers where doing when I was back there I would’ve
never wasted so much time and effort working my way to the front row where I
thought – as most do – that would provide an advantage. So I will go back in
the crowd and figure a way to be noticed – find a creative means to be
separated from the crowd and just get that 5 minutes to sell them on my vision
and the great opportunity that awaits them! A great idea for a great cause that
with their greenlight of resources and following the plan I have worked,
collaborating with me on the implementation if this plan that answers all
questions before they are asked and provides a road map to potentially great
success along with the changes that their experiences says is necessary, I may
be able to finally get this to the next level – and prove to the rest of the
industry that it was a great idea for a great cause and wish they had thought
of it themselves!

 

So I am coming up with some creative ideas and ways to get
attention. I have a couple of ideas that I know can get attention of the right
people – if their people will allow them to see it! In many cases that is the
biggest hurdle, the biggest obstacle is those who decide who the “right people”
will even see, let alone call on the floor just below the stage! If I can just
get the Hollywood door open and get my foot in
it won’t matter if they slam the door because my foot is paralyzed! I have no
sensation or function – so slam away baby! I am not going anywhere without a
fair and equal opportunity to show what I have – what is different from the
hundreds of other filmmakers outside the door! Maybe that is the reason they
will not pay attention or even open the door? They are afraid they if they let
me in and I fail, causing them to lose money, credibility, or anything else
that they will not be able to get rid of me! They feel if the person who can
cry foul the most has no way to point a specific finger at them that is the
best way to avoid the negative – although correct – publicity that would fall
upon them. Easier to avoid if there is never an opportunity! Even if that
opportunity has great potential to be success! Maybe that is the answer? I have
been thinking that it was because they have always ignored those with a
disability so why change now? What proof do I have that what I bring to the
table is any different from anyone or anything in the past that dealt with
those with a disability? Give me 5 fucking minutes and I will tell you and you
will see beyond a reasonable doubt that I do have an answer to that question
and many more!

 

12 years. I didn’t always have the answers to all the
questions one could raise about those with a disability in front of and behind
the camera in Hollywood
and today’s entertainment media. But I have them now, 12 years later. And I not
only can answer them I can provide examples and solutions if I can get a
greenlight!

 

But I am running out of time. I risked everything to take
this to the next level – figuring that after 12 years and because I have
prepared everything that is in my power to be positioned where I am that I
would surely get the chance if I put a full time effort into getting the
attention that would take it to the next level. And I thought I had some pretty
solid confirmation on investors at least committing to seed capital for
Abilities United Productions, LLC which would provide working capital that
includes a reasonable salary and the production budget for the short film,
“Glacial Breeze” that is a great calling card to what it is we are poised to do
and to bring to the near future and beyond (was that Buzz Lightyear I just
heard? Where is his cousin Buzz “Green-Lightyear”? lol). But that warp speeded
away almost as soon as the promising commitments were made and now here I am
sitting here holding the bag – with nothing left in my bank account – creditors
for my personal expenses including the rent – about to come down so hard on me
after pushing them off and off and off until now – that I am about to lose
everything I have.

 

Oh well, it is my fault, I am the one that felt it was a
calculated risk to take given the opportunities and promises that were made,
given the 12 years of dedication and work that would answer any and all
questions pertaining to my work, my cause, my deal that is win-win-win! I guess
I was wrong and now will have to once again as I have many times in the past –
pay the piper because of my calculated risk taking! Only this time it is with
blood because I do not have anything else left! Damn, damn, damn. The last
thing I wanted was this poor, poor, pity me and yet along with my blood seems
all that I have left!

 

Got to be positive! Got to carry on! There is always a light
at the end
of the tunnel – even if it isn’t green! At least it is light! I have
seen plenty of dark tunnels and been seemingly stuck in many of them! Cannot
think of any that was a dark as the one I entered on April 1, 1995 and was not
conscious of for a whole week and then found out I would be dragging my lower
half of my body around for the rest of my life! Big deal, that was at least
light at the end of the tunnel – and I always have looked at that – what I have
and not what I do not have! But today all that have is a great idea for a great
cause that may not ever leave the dark tunnel – even if I do. Although I cannot
see how I can leave it behind. Seriously this is the reason I get up and out of
bed
in the morning – it is and has been my motivation ever since that fateful
day 12+ years ago. I cannot think of being separated – it is who I am – a
filmmaker, a filmmaker who has created based on his own experiences in a very
dark tunnel, a great idea for a great cause with great potential to be a great
deal in both the business and social worlds.

 

Is anybody listening?

 

Does anybody care?

 

Does anybody on that stage of Hollywood
players and makers care?

 

Does anybody have any other ideas on how to get their
attention on that stage?

 

You hear of those stories all the time of when a person,
seemingly out of no where gets their attention and makes something of it –
Tarantino, Rodriguez, Smith and many others! I love their work, their examples,
but none of them had what would be such a collective
impact
to include:

  1. breaking
    stereotypes,

 

  1. ending
    discrimination on both sides of the camera,

 

  1. changing
    perspectives that have been in place the entire history of the motion
    picture industry,

 

  1. provide
    jobs to those currently not even considered as potential candidates which
    in turn

 

  1. provides
    examples and realistic reasons for future generations to dream regardless
    of their physical challenges, which does not exist today,

 

  1. that
    will during the course of the life of dedication and several projects help
    change society’s opinions very similar to the way it did back in the days
    of;
    1. Sidney
      Poitier for the black stereotypes and discrimination,
    2. and
      with such films as “Philadelphia”
      with Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington for those with alternative
      lifestyles,
    3. like
      it did for the female gender in “Thelma and Louise” and many others, all
      which provided a alternative and authentic view not seen before their
      releases and during some of the most discriminatory and stereotypical
      times in their history  

 

  1. and
    that is only speaking of the characters of their respective minority or
    sub-group. So if we include the people from both sides of the camera to
    include the filmmakers, and the actors coming from each of those
    minorities and/or subgroups to help form new, honest and true
    representations of those with a disability, which is the only way to
    provide an authentic voice along with honest representation for a
    population that has been ignored by the industry and in some cases society
    for so long and all primarily because there has been no challenge to the
    stereotypes anywhere and especially where it could have the most potential
    to affect a change and provide an honest representation.

 

All will be a “turning point” in American Cinema and
directly affect those with a disability all over society, including the
industry forever!

So I must carry on. I must do it and obviously not just for
myself but for all the reasons listed, for all of the current 54+ million
Americans with a disability, their family, friends and loved ones. For me
personally even when I see a sparkle at the end of the tunnel… this is my
light. This is my torch, my flashlight and even if it never turns green – I
guess my mark will be – if anyone finds me, if I can get any attention to what
it is I am doing. Not trying but doing, as the one who despite the darkness in
the tunnel would never give up on his great idea for a great cause that had the
great potential for a great deal of people
that goes beyond the business and
social worlds. RIP, baby! RI fuckin’ P, baby!

 

Who Will Join Us? Will You?

 

Well
the time has come. I am not going around and trying to sell my script to Hollywood. Mainly because
I am trying to sell an idea – a well thought out and constructed idea – but
even though the selling of one of my screenplays would solve a lot of – well
all of my financial woes currently – but there is too much more at stake when looking at whole picture and after all isn’t the picture business what we’re in? Not just for a
lasting career, but because of the mission of “Breaking the Hollywood
Stereotypes of Characters and People with a Disability”
will take more
then a simple adding a character using a wheelchair and more than just one screenplay.

And
how can I do that? Especially when there is already a million guys and girls
out there trying to sell their one screenplay to make it big! Another reason is
the common knowledge or belief if I sell it outright of course it can be and
probably will be bastardized as Hollywood
beginning with development hell and going to a director who has to come up with
his/her vision of that screenplay to bring it to life on the screen. That
brings me to the next reason and that is
I wrote these screenplays so I can direct!
I started out directing music videos in Dallas after attending the Art Institutes’
Music and Video Business and loved creating stories that I then filmed and
interlaced with shots from the band and other interruptions to the story.  I wanted to stretch it into film because I
loved being a director – being on set or location with all the crew and talent
and everyone asking questions and needing direction! It was the first time I
ever felt comfortable due to growing up with ADD! Along with the personal
satisfaction of putting it altogether in post production and then seeing a
story on screen that you created form a blank screen! So now film, movies were
where I had to take my career as I could tell stories longer then the typical 4
minute song. But after my accident which delayed my career into film – into
storytelling on film – and the direction turned to those with a disability – I
couldn’t find any stories that featured characters with a disability. There is
one exception but I didn’t find James Patterson’s “The Midnight Club” which he
wrote years before my accident until much later – so I knew I had to create the
stories so that I could be a storyteller on film and be a director. Now it was
time to learn screenwriting. Damn long way around for a guy who is usually
getting or wanting everything yesterday!

So
to be a voice that was true and honest it requires a director with a disability
to bring to the screen an authentic element to it. Of course it also requires
an actor with the same or similar disability but the nature of this project
would require that I be the one – not only because I am the writer but because
of the need of authenticity! So now I have written content-specific screenplays that have non-stereotypical roles and
plots.
And they contain all the necessary elements that I have learned from
my screenwriting books, videos and guests at the Dallas Screenwriters
Association that would be commercially successful and therefore are universally
appealing.

Of
course after writing my first one I thought I was going to sell it for $100,000
and everyone would want me to write another! Yeah, right when the actual answer
was, write! So I continued and I knew I had something – I had what was not
being produced in Hollywood
or through independent means. But that was just a benefit in my mind after all I began all of this because I wanted to see
some representation of those who were paralyzed and living a life that didn’t
revolve around their disability – just like myself!

But
I also found out that it takes more then a great idea for a great cause to get
anyone to pay attention. It comes down to business and that means it had to
also be a great deal, business deal. So I then created the marketing and
distribution strategies that would make it a great deal – I have it all
together to be able to do what Hollywood
has not will answers to all questions and all elements except for one, great
support. If it has great support, meaning a
professional production budget and distribution deal
, then it will be a
great deal. And that is where I am now. I put all of this together and formed
my Abilities United Productions company and now I just have to get the support
that can see the vision that I see. That can see the route that I have outlined
and created to make it a success. Now I have to find someone to join me. So instead of selling a script, I am
selling a concept that includes a great idea for a great cause that has the
potential to be a great deal.

 

As
much as I didn’t want to show my hand, it doesn’t seem I have a choice but to
show the whole hand to prove I have what it is that I say I have or at least
believe I have! This is so much more then just a movie with a character who
uses a wheelchair. I have defined my film projects to include the 3 elements I spoke of,
content-specific, authentic and universally appealing that are rarely if ever
combined in the same film. I have created specific
marketing and distribution strategies
that take into account both the
disabled consumer market segment and general audiences. How the films by
Abilities United Productions casting of actors
with the same or similar disabilit
y as the characters will help end the terrible discrimination against
performers/actors with a disability which I also believe that name recognized Hollywood stars will be attracted to
our projects to help end this blatant injustice constantly being done against
those within their own field of acting and give us an advantage over other
indie films they are considering.

 

Capitalizing on the new James Cameron
movie
“Avatar” that features a
character who is an ex-Marine and a paraplegic
– although it is by an able bodied actor (and not a name recognizable actor as
Hollywood justifies the use of in most of the previous movies with a character
with a disability) and Cameron is the writer and director and therefore has no
“authentic” element – but is being released in 2009 and will warm audiences to
featured characters with a disability in a non-stereotypical role. This is just
a huge benefit of not doing this all alone. And it is James Cameron the writer,
director, producer of the largest box
office grossing movie of all time
and made him “king of the world” with Academy Awards for the Best Picture
“Titanic”! Along with my self and our featured actor rolling our wheelchairs
out on the talk shows to explain the similarities and the differences of our
film that will be released short thereafter. This will play a significant part
in educating potential moviegoers to the authentic voice and representation in
our films which will attract some ticket sales and especially within the
disabled consumer market segment when they see a movie written, directed and
acted by those with a disability. And the A-List co-star telling audiences on
the talk shows that one of the factors that first attracted her to the role was
helping to end the stereotypes and discrimination against actors with a
disability.

 

Knowing
that it will take more then a one time movie with all of these elements to
change things and make a lasting impact
in American Cinema
changing the stereotypes and discrimination for all
current and future generations to be able to work on their talents, skills and
not be ignored or dismissed as those of us with a disability are today. And
because it will take more then one film to meet this Mission, I have them ready with a slate of screenplays and short
stories I will adapt into screenplays. This is a major reason for forming my
own production company, Abilities United Productions, LLC.

 

I
have every corner covered. I can answer
all questions
and by reading my business plan many of them before they are even asked! I have
dedicated 12 years which constitutes all of my second chance at life to
creating what this is today and its potential for what it will become in the
future. A future with actors with a
disability become household names
like any other celebrity without the
labels and categories!

 

And
now I am contacting all of the major studios, their independent divisions as
well as independent production companies that can partner with Abilities United
Productions’ and provide the great
support for this potentially great deal
with a necessary professional
production budget and at least a semi-wide release distribution deal to make
the impact that history will record as the “turning point” for those with a
disability in Hollywood on both sides of the camera.

 

So who will join us?  Are you in? If so then say so in a comment below! Let everyone know, “you’re in” and when those who can
provide the necessary support resources do partner with us I will make it known
here first (unless they prefer to be a silent partner) and let history list
them when the time comes!

 

So will it be:

 

Disney

Paramount

Sony Pictures

Twentieth Century Fox

United Artists

Universal

Warner Bros.

 

Or

 

Columbia

Cruise/Wagner

DreamWorks, SKG

Fortis Films

Happy Madison Productions

Icon Productions

Jersey Films

LivePlanet

Miramax

New Line

Paramount Vantage

Picturehouse

Revolution Studios

Searchlight Pictures

Sony Classics

 

Or
one of the ones who I will contact tomorrow or the day after that? I am
contacting so many for a few reasons. One is that my formula for “Breaking the Hollywood Stereotypes of Characters and
People with a Disability”
will be known throughout the industry as
originating from me! Second to create competition among them but I just wish to
get any attention and if they know I am contacting their competitors they may
want to be the “one” who will have the best of both worlds – making a significant change in American
Cinema,
changing the history of stereotypes and discrimination against
those with a disability AND making a LOT of money!

 

And
the last but certainly not the least reason for the blitz of contacting as many
as possible is because I need this to happen ASAPP – I took the risk of taking my Abilities United to the next level and
have come into a few obstacles in which now I am totally broke – which is
obviously causing some problems with things like food, medicine, rent and
utilities and unable to move back home
to SoCal
as this stepping stone from Dallas to Cali has lasted too long as
it is!

 

So
the time has come – and I completely believe that I have the whole package –
ready to provide unique films that are universally appealing, commercially
viable and to achieve our Mission
and Vision that will make Abilities United Productions the premier motion
picture production company that features those with a disability! Are you in?

 

 

 

What’s Your Name?

Well today is the second of October. I have been posting a
blog entry a lot more often as promised – although I wonder if anyone reads
these ramblings! No matter it is probably mostly therapeutic then anything else
and so here’s another one!

I have to start this post about names with  last night’s episode of “Rules of Engagement”
When the character, Jeff was asked by his wife if the usual doorman in their
apartment building was working that night Jeff said “Not tonight it’s Larry
with ADD.” I died laughing! My ADD was a lot worse when I was a child and back
then it wasn’t called that – I was a trouble child or a troubled child – or had
too much sugar of which I resent all of those damn doctors for that since it
caused me to be denied candy, cakes and all the good things(from time to time –
I still knew how to get what I wanted) and it didn’t stop the fact that I
couldn’t pay attention in school and therefore did get into a lot of trouble as
my mind had me getting into things I shouldn’t have!  Maybe drugs would’ve been better – Ridalin
that is!

Okay and now what prompted this entry about names! “Michael
Clayton” is the new movie with George Clooney and to be released in the next
week or two – and when I first heard the commercial say the name “Michael
Clayton” I was quickly trying to remember the name of my antagonist/villain in
“London Time” screenplay. I knew his last name was Clayton. And who names a
movie after the name of one of its characters? Unless it is a famous person
“Capote” or prominent figure in history like “Lincoln” but Michael Clayton? Then I
remembered my Clayton’s first name as David. Whew! I didn’t want to change his
name! Even so I do hope that it isn’t seen as if I am trying to copy or that I
have some thing out to get Clooney so I called my villain Clayton! I wrote the
“London Time” screenplay about 4 years ago!

And then two weekends ago I went to see “The Brave One” at
the midnight show. Good, no really good movie – great story and performances
and I really liked the way the director and editor used the sounds and images
as Jodie Foster’s character had flashbacks. It wasn’t over done and very
poignant and done wonderfully. Anyway, to get back on topic, the address at the
end of the story where Foster was told she could find one of the guys she was
looking to revenge upon as well as the detective (portrayed by the incredible
Terrence Howard) rushing to get to was shown on her cell phone as “90 Clayton
St.”  

All of these Clayton’s in my life at the same time. I was
thinking what’s in a name? Was this destiny? Was it good or bad destiny?
Probably neither but it is still fun to think about and to take a break from my
current frantic search for an immediate solution to my personal financial
situation that can only be solved through the funding of my company or feature
film! Well there are other ways but they will either take too long or bust me
for being illegal. So I better get back to it! Nothing gets done by itself and
I have a new plan to get the attention of those who I think will want to help!     

Authentic Paraplegic Filmmaker