Filming Without A Vision

Vision Road Sign with dramatic blue sky and clouds.
What’s is my vision for my film?

A few days ago I completed shooting and capturing footage for the Wheelchair Chronicles. I’m still in awe at my accomplishment because I never envisioned that I would actually finish shooting or better yet start working on this film. I am so proud of the work that I did for this film and I can’t wait for you all to see the finished product. Before I show you all a finished product, I have to figure out what my vision for the film is going to be.

A couple of weeks ago I had to complete my senior project for my senior capstone class. Basically, the premise of the project was figuring out what we plan on doing after we graduate from DePaul and the resources we plan on using to learn more about the career we plan to get into. During my research I cam across an article called “5 Simple Mistakes Documentary Filmmakers Make” and one of the mistakes that’s made is filming without a vision.

This is a main concern that I have and trying to figure out with the film footage I captured and the interview session that I did in August. What is my vision for the film? As a filmmaker this is question I have to ask before I can go through the process of finding an editor, music for the film and putting together the rest of my team. I need to have a strong vision for the film, a vision that “informs every creative and editorial step along the way.” I need to create a vision the I strongly believe in and that I can share with the people I chose to be apart of my film because I need to choose the right people who understands my vision and with their knowledge and talent can take my vision to a whole new level.



A Huge Accomplishment In My Life

Well today I’ve accomplished something that I thought I would never happen. After 11 months, I am officially done shooting the Wheelchair Chronicles. It’s been an unbelievable 11 months for me (well, the last couple of years have been unbelievable) working on this film. I still remember the day I put together the original concept for this film, I still remember showing my friend Lindsay Davis my ideas about the film and I remember when I completely abandoned this film all together and I remember my friend Shumaila Rafiq encouraging me to work on my film again. I’ve had many ups and downs about this film and I couldn’t be happier than I am now.

Drivin’ Down The Block

I really enjoyed capturing footage of (the best city in the world) Chicago. I got a chance to find out what my city was all about, more particularly how it affected me in my wheelchair. In the area that I live in (Lincoln Park/Old Town) I’ve had to deal with a lot of issues trying to capture film footage. One of the main problems was construction that forced me many time ride my wheelchair in the streets. Another issue was weather related. When you live in a city like Chicago (or any major city) you have to deal with snow and during my 11 months of filming I dealt with those issues but you know what, it made for a great experience and that’s what I take from my months of filming.

Now that I’m done filming it’s now time for the next chapter of this film and that’s editing, marketing, promoting and creating the vision for this film. What I mean by vision is that I have to find people who I can share my vision with and are on the same page with me and have the same enthusiasm that I have for the film. That means I have to find the right editor that can put the all the pieces of my film and create one complete puzzle. I need to find the right music that complements my vision and finding that is gonna be a grueling search. I also have to put together a personal marketing team that can help promote the film.

I’m learning that if I don’t have the right people in place, it could ruin my film and I can’t afford to let that happen so my choices are really important. I’m getting ready to start the next chapter of the Wheelchair Chronicles and I want to thank everyone for their support of me and my film. You don’t how much your support means to me and I appreciate each and every one of you. Sometime next year, my film will be showed at different film festivals across this U.S., Canada and even Europe, Australia, China, Japan so be on the look out.



I’m more than two weeks (17 days) away from completing the shooting part of my film. I am so glad to be reaching this milestone because I never thought I would get to this point but I’m here. During the 11 month journey of capturing footage for the film, I had a lot of doubts in my mind because I had no clue what the hell I was doing when I started. I had no clue how to work a video camera, I didn’t know how to use editing software, I was a complete mess.

The best thing about working on the film was that I had help, a lot of help in putting this film together. I had people like Camille DeBose who I’ve mentioned a few times on my blog (Stepping In Front Of The Camera, Filming Plans, Being In Front of The Camera), has helped me with different ideas and concepts. Another person who has helped me is Alaric Rocha when I worked with him on Deadly Embrace. Seeing how an actual film works and being on a real set was one of the greatest experiences I’ve had so far in my film career. Oh and the many friends and family who have support me and this film. I don’t want to leave you all out because you played an important role in my film as well.

While I’m sad that I’m not going to be collecting anymore footage for my film, I’m excited to continue this journey and start marketing and promoting the hell out of this film. I’m gonna make this film a success!

Inside The Mind of Justin Cooper

While creating this film, I wanted to focus on my life in a wheelchair, sounds simple, right! But, as I started working on the Wheelchair Chronicles, I’ve had to really evaluate not just my life in a wheelchair, but my whole life . My experiences, my relationships with friends and family, etc. While doing this, I’ve had to dig into my mind, my world and figure out what makes me the person that I am today.

First off, it was difficult to dive into the world of Justin Cooper. The reason being is my mind is all over the place. There are so many thoughts going on in my head (even as I’m typing this) that it’s hard to figure out where to start. When I start to dig inside my mind, it’s full of thoughts and things that I’m going through at the moment. Like fir instance, dealing with the film, classes, and how I’m going to pay my tuition.

As I go further, I see my desires, the things that I want out of life. I even see the people who I want and don’t want in my life. The people who I want in my life are the people who have been good to me over the years, the people who have supported me and the film, and will continue to be apart of life.

Then I reach the part of my mind where I dig up my regrets and disappointments in my life. I find myself regretting a lot of things in my life. I regret not telling people who were apart of my life at one time that I love them ( friends and family). Even today there some people (especially one special person in my life) who I still haven’t told that I love. I’m sorry to those people because you all mean a lot to me and the fact that I couldn’t tell you is one of the biggest disappointments and regrets in my life.

See this is what happens when I start digging in my mind, it starts off well but then I start thinking about my regrets and disappointments but that’s the way I am. Since I’ve started working on this film, I’ve really had to look over and evaluate my life and this something that I’ve had to do to make this film a success. I’m glad that I’m doing it but sometimes when I start digging into my mind I just have to dig deeper.