Magazine article Screen International

The Filmmakers of 'Becoming Bulletproof'

Magazine article Screen International

The Filmmakers of 'Becoming Bulletproof'

Article excerpt

Director Michael Barnett (headshot pictured), who served as executive producer on recent Tribeca entry Gore Vidal: The United States Of Amnesia, and producer Theodore James talk about their documentary Becoming Bulletproof, which features a score by former Screen LA Star Of Tomorrow Ceiri Torjussen.

They are joined by Will Halby, the lead producer on Bulletproof, the actual feature-length Western profiled in the documentary, and co-founder of Zeno Mountain Farm, the non-profit behind Bulletproof that hosts camps for people with disability.

Becoming Bulletproof is blazing a trail in festival land and recently took home a trio of prizes from the Cleveland International Film Festival: the FilmSlam Student Choice Award for Best Feature Film, the Global Health Competition Best Film award and the Roxanne T Mueller Audience Choice Award.

When did you shoot and how was the doc funded?

Michael Barnett: We started principal photography in the spring of 2012 and wrapped photography in August of 2014. The film was funded through Kickstarter, foundations, private donors and a few investors.

What did you learn in making this doc from the cast, Zeno Mountain Farm and its collaborators?

MB: I had no experience in the disability community before this film. None. So, this process has been a revelation for me. Whether we know it or not, we carry preconceived notions about what it means to live with disability. This comes from how our society views and treats this community.

Shortly after we started this project, those preconceived notions I had were obliterated. I discovered something incredibly profound, yet simple - what a community can accomplish together by focusing on what people can do, instead of what they can't. By creating lifelong friendships and fostering creativity through radical inclusion and dignity and love, then the seemingly impossible becomes possible.

Will says in the film that Zeno Mountain Farm is not about education, yet audiences can learn so much from this movie. What progress is being made in getting actors with disabilities into 'mainstream' movies?

WH: From my point of view, I don't think much. There are statistics out there and I don't know what they are but I am certain that they do not represent a consistent correlation to the ratio of the world outside of Hollywood. I will say that so much of what we collectively call "disability" is really a gigantic population of our world (something like 20 percent); so the movement that we would like to see is actually one of truly radical inclusion at every level. The entertainment industry is a fantastic gateway to introduce a new paradigm but ironically, it is remarkably narrow in terms of who gets put in front of the camera. …

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