My Own Worst Critic

Over the last few years I’ve seen my version of The Wheelchair Chronicles countless times and with every viewing, I’m often cringing at what I’m saying on screen. Being my own worst critic, I’m saying to myself during these viewings, “what the hell was I talking about, why did I say what I said in this scene, I can’t believe I said that.” I realize recently during a private viewing session I did for a friend of mine that I’m a completely different person now than I was when I did those interview sessions. 2017 Justin Cooper is different from 2013 Justin Cooper (the year I recorded those sessions).
 
For example, in parts of the film, I talk about wanting independence and not wanting help from strangers, friends, and even my mom. I felt that in order to be independent, I had to do everything by myself, I had to “prove” to everyone how independent I was gonna be. That was me in 2013 and in the present day I’m thinking to myself, why would you say something like that? It makes no sense. I say that because my interpretation of being independent was slightly off. Being independent is not about trying to prove to others that you don’t need their help or that you can do everything by yourself. In all honesty, I can’t do everything by myself and I require help from my friends and family in certain situations because I see them as being apart of my team, my support system. I can still crave independence but without the strong support system in my life I’m nothing, I’m nothing without them.
 
Let’s be real, I’m my own worst critic when it comes to my film. In the two showings that I’ve done so far people have been positive in their reviews and understand where I was coming from in talking about being independent but from those interview sessions I’ve grown and have learned more about myself and I’ve met so many wonderful people who made me see that needed help and being on a team is not bad at all.
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Only The Beginning

On Monday after five long years, I finally showed off The Wheelchair Chronicles to a group of my closest friends. It was easily one of the best night of my life. I was a little nervous at first but I knew I was amongst friends who have been so supportive of my journey over the last five years. The great thing about it all is they want more, and there will be more premieres and more celebrations. The next phase of the process is polishing up my edited version and putting together a crowdfunding campaign, where I can hire professional editors, hire composers, work on a proper marketing and promotion, and working on a logo. This only the beginning for me in my life as a filmmaker and I look forward to what the future holds.

Amazement

I continue to be amazed at how many people are still interested and excited for my film. I feel like I continue to let you all down because I still haven’t released The Wheelchair Chronicles. It’s frustrating because life has gotten in the way and the added responsibilities that I’ve taken on recently. All I just want to do is just show you all the finished product and focus my time on creating my business and working on other film projects. I really appreciate your support and continued excitement for this film. It means a lot.

Film Update

2017 is shaping up to be a huge year for me and The Wheelchair Chronicles. This year my film will finally be released and I’m so excited! So my plan is to do a private screening of the film (featuring my edited version) for friends, family, and supporters of my long journey. After that, I plan to launch a Kickstarter campaign that will go into hiring professional editors, a composer, and hiring people to do marketing and promotion so I can submit it to different film festivals across the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois. I’ll be providing more film updates in the coming months and posting more personal stuff on this blog as well. Thank you to everyone for their continued support!

Film Update

It’s been too damn long since I’ve given y’all an update but there’s been a lot of things (good things) that’s been happening recently. The film is all finished and it’s on my external hard drive waiting to be released to the public. I’ve been focused on collaborating with my UIC family, I’ve got a bigger role in YPC (Young Professionals Council) at Access Living as membership & recruitment chair, I’m working hard with the disability pride parade committee on putting together the parade that’s coming up in a few months, I’m working with a few friends helping put their own projects together, and lastly I’m doing entrepreneurial training at UIC. So I haven’t neglected y’all or my film. I’m getting great opportunities to better myself and collaborate with other people. Thank you all for your support and patience.

Wheelchair Chronicles Update

Hey everyone!

I know it’s been a while since I last wrote on my blog or provided any news on the film. Well as I mentioned back in November of 2015, I completed the film and explained the wonderful journey I went through to finish the Wheelchair Chronicles. Fast forward to today, it’s still finished but life has gotten in the way recently and in a good way. I’ve taken on more responsibilities in my life but don’t think for one minute that I’m forgetting about my film. Once I figured out where I’m gonna debut it in Chicago, I’ll let you all know where and how you can see it. Sorry for the wait everyone but you’ll won’t be disappointed when I present The Wheelchair Chronicles.

Major Announcement

It’s been a while since I’ve written on my blog, but it’s been for good reasons. Today however, I wanted to announce that The Wheelchair Chronicles will be done at the end of September. I can’t believe I’ve finally gotten to this point. All the hard work, the blood, sweat, and many tears I put into this project and now it’s coming to an end. I will provide updates on all of my adventures very soon.

Thank you all for your support!

The Many Faces of Justin Cooper

WCIS (12)WCIS (6)

WCIS (18)WCIS (2)

Going through the editing process has been a grueling task, but as I’ve gone through hours of footage, I’m always amazed when I see myself on video. I go back to my interview session with Camillie DeBose in 2012, and it was the first time I was talking in-depth about my life. As I was editing, I can see all the different feelings and emotions I was going through at that time and it all came to a head in that session. I want everyone to see those feelings and emotions that I’m conveying, as I tell my story in this film.

I’ve Been Away For Too Long

It’s been a long time since I’ve actually written a post. With exception of the teaser trailer I posted for the film last month, I haven’t written a post about what’s been on my mind since September and that fucking sucks! When I first started this blog I wanted to at least provide some sort of daily content and I’ve been slipping. Even though I’ve been spending the last few months working and editing my film, it’s no excuse for me not providing you all with content. While working on my film is nice and all, this blog is where I really express myself and to be honest, I’ve missed it so damn much.

During the last few months a lot has happened for good and for bad. Recently I became a contributor for a group called NerdyEdge that focuses on gaming and I’ve been writing a few throwback/retro articles for them and its going very well so far. I’m continuing my work as a member of the Young Professionals Council at Access Living and its helped me open up myself more than I’ve ever done. I’ve been making new friends while showing my support to friends that have been supportive of my project. On the other hand I’ve been dealing with some not so good things in my life. Recently, I’ve had some medical insurance issues that at the moment is preventing me from going to RIC (Rehab Institute of Chicago). That’s a story I’ll talk about at another time. Overall, things have been going well.

There’s so many things that I want to talk about at this moment but I think it’s best that I stretch out my thoughts for future posts. What I will tell you is that my film is close to completion and it feels good to be done with this now five year project.

A Dark Point In My Life

The last couple of days I’ve been thinking hard about the person that I’ve become and where my life is at today compared to person I was and where my life was 14 years ago. I look back at that point in my life because that was a time that my entire life was turned upside down. During that time I got my first wheelchair, I was bouncing around between high schools trying to find my identity and it was a time that I suffered from a deep depression that took me years to get out of and recover from.

It started all in 2000. I was a student at St. Benedict High School. I was finishing up my sophomore year and I miss a large amount of the school year due to St. Ben’s getting a grant to help renovate the school. At the time I was actually walking but with the new construction, I couldn’t walk from one building to the next. Long story short, I wouldn’t be able to return to St. Ben’s my junior year but could return for my senior year.

During my junior year in 2000, I was actually home schooled through Senn High School and I was to complete a year at Senn and be able to transfer back to St. Benedict the next school year. Well that never happened and I wound up being stuck in the Chicago Public School (CPS) system for the next three years. I was beyond devastated because that meant I would never see my friends at St. Ben’s again. My friends meant so much to me at that time because they accepted me as a person and understood about my disability.

Around 2001 that was the beginning of my downward spiral. I was stuck at Senn before being transferred to Mather and then back to Senn (by the way, without my knowledge). I did get my wheelchair and while that played an important part of my life, I didn’t feel that way at the time. I hated being in a wheelchair and add to that I couldn’t get out of my house as much because we lived in a basement apartment and it was difficult for me to get out of my house. The only time I ever got out was to go to a few events and to school and I fucking hated going to school.

I spent the rest of my high school years being home schooled and I just kept getting deeper and deeper into my depression. Yeah I had the support of my uncle and my mother. She’s a praying woman and I didn’t give a damn about her trying to encourage me and lift my spirits up. Nobody knew what was going on with me. I put on a fake smile and pretend everything was alright, when I was actually going through hell. I was even at a point where I had suicidal thoughts, something that I’ve never mentioned to anyone until today. At a certain point I thought about killing myself. I hated my life, I hated being in a wheelchair, I was so damn lonely and I couldn’t take it anymore and I had my thoughts on how I was gonna end it. Thank God I didn’t go through with it but still, I was in a dark place.

I got out of high school in 2003 and started going to Truman College part-time and spent four years there. I was still couldn’t get out the house as much as I wanted to, I was still lonely. Going to school everyday was keeping me from going back to that dark place and being in a deep depression but I still kept to myself. In the summer of 2006, things started looking up. I moved from my basement apartment to Old Town, I dropped out of Truman and transferred to DePaul.

I was still a loner during the first few months at DePaul but as the years went on I met and got to know some amazing people there. They were just like my friends at St. Ben’s. They accepted me as a person (I’m trying so hard not to tear up now). They have given me so much love and support and I’m so grateful to have them in my life. The main reason the Wheelchair Chronicles is being made, is because of their encouragement and the strong belief they have in me and I’m forever thankful to them for that.

I’m now at a point in my life where I’m happy with who I am as a person, I happy that my film is close to being completed and that it’s taking me to places that I never thought I’d be at this time. I’ve met some new friends that are now a part of my life and now I’m networking with some big-time people in Chicago. I’m proud of the person I’ve become and where my life is heading.