The Return…

No I’m not talking about the return of Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose (who I told people that he wasn’t coming back at all this season but I’m getting off topic), I’m talking about the return of me working on my film again. It’s been a few months since I took a hiatus from working on the Wheelchair Chronicles to focus on finishing school (one more month til graduation…WOOOO!!!) and now I’m preparing to finally finish the film that I’ve been working on now for close to 4 years.

One of the great things about taking a hiatus is that it gave me a chance to clear my head. I was focusing on my film 24/7 with one idea for how I wanted to present this film and it was driving me insane and it felt like my head was going to explode. The time away from the film has help big time because it’s given me an opportunity to view other documentaries and get ideas on how to present my film. I so many ideas floating my head and I get a rush of excitement when I come with a new idea and so I’m itching to start working again.

I’m excited for the finish of The Wheelchair Chronicles and I can’t wait to update you all as I take the final steps in completing this film. While I love chronicling my life in a wheelchair through words (I have another idea about further chronicling my life in a wheelchair after my film but I’ll talk about that in a future post), I want people to see me and to watch me explain the trails and tribulations that have happened in my life.

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The Urge To Film Again

It’s been a while since I’ve written on my blog, but it’s been even longer since I picked up a camera. I’ve been done shooting my film for close to six months now and yet I miss filming.

I miss picking up a camera and shooting in different locations. Now I’ve got the urge again, the urge to pick up a camera and start shooting anything that moves.

I got a thrill from shooting my film. The idea of recording my experiences through the streets of Chicago invigorated me. I got to learn so much about myself through my travels and how being in a wheelchair has affected me and the people in my life.

I’m an artist and I have so many ideas in my head that are film related and I feel the urge again to record these new-found ideas and spread those ideas across the world.

Filming is my passion now and I need a camera in my hand to record my experiences.

Wheelchair Chronicles Film Update

As much as I don’t want to do this, I have to put completing my film on hold. With trying to finish up school, my time has been stretched out and I just don’t have the time to fully focus on finishing my film at this time. It’s a real difficult decision to make and it’s hurting me so bad now but I’m so close to graduating and I have to fully focus on that. It hurts because I’m so passionate about my first film and I don’t want to let you all down because you’ve been so supportive of me but school comes first.

Thank you all for supporting me and supporting my blog and supporting my film

Justin

I Rather Be An Outcast

When I started out on my film journey, one of my many goals for the film and for myself was to finally be accepted not just by my peers, but by society . You can understand why I made that a goal for myself. At that time, I felt that being accepted by society as a person with a disability would benefit not only me but other people in wheelchairs and other disabilities. Now over a year later, my goal has changed.

I would rather not be accepted by society as a person with a disability. Let me explain. Throughout my 30 years of life, all I’ve wanted was to be accepted. I wanted to be accepted by my friends, family, and other people. I yearned for that acceptance and I was ashamed of my disability. I figured that if I wanted to be successful I had to embrace society, I had to be a part of it, I had to conform. Even when I was working on this film, I still was trying to gain acceptance. Now I don’t want that at all. I don’t want to be “accepted” anymore, I would rather be an outcast than be accepted by society.

Why should I work my ass off to force people to welcome me into their “little club?” Hell, they shunned me to begin with. They treat me like I don’t belong and I’m supposed to work hard to have them welcome me with open arms reluctantly, no way. So I rather stick with being an outcast. As an outcast, I get to be myself. I don’t have to hide who I am to be viewed as normal because I’m not normal.

There are things about me that stand out to many people who I’ve met throughout my life and that’s all that matters to me. Those people who I’ve befriended have accepted me from the beginning as a person and not a man in a wheelchair. I shouldn’t have to work for acceptance, as a black man and a person with a disability; I should already have that acceptance.

Justin

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.

Justin

Countdown

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.

Justin

What A Film Should Be Like: According to Stanley Kubrick

Courtesy: Edgemar Center for the Arts

Well a few days ago I was on tumblr and I ran across this interesting quote from director Stanley Kubrick explaining what a film should be like:

“A film is – or should be – more like music than fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what’s behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later.”

In all honesty I didn’t really pay attention to the quote but then I started thinking about it and realized that he’s absolutely right about film being more like music than fiction.

While working on my film I was spending too much time thinking about what the theme was gonna be, how I was gonna present myself in the film and while that’s important those things will only come as I continue working on the film all of those pieces the theme, what’s behind the emotion, and the meaning will all come together once the film is done.

As a director this is an important lesson that I’ve learned and I will never forget this lesson

Justin

It’s All Mathematics Pt. 2

Well this is unexpected, today I was gonna talk about a wheelchair topic related to the film but I decided to continue on a post that I wrote last Wednesday titled “It’s All Mathematics.” In my post last week I talked about a presentation that I was doing in my math class regarding my wheelchair and this week I finished doing my research and writhing notes for my presentation and came up with some interesting results.

Now before I tell you my results of my research, let me explain how I did my research. I decided to focus my presentation on the number of miles that I travel on a daily basis and the number of hours it takes to charge my wheelchair. I did this process for a one week starting on Friday February 17th, detailing the total miles I traveled that day, the total time of my entire trip, the hours it took for my chair to fully charge and finally the total number of hours I actually charged my chair.

I was really fascinated by the results of my week long research. In one week I traveled a total of 17.2 miles, that’s how many miles it approximately takes to get from Chicago to Chicago Ridge, IL. The total time I traveled was 227 minutes which comes out to 3 hours and 47mins. The number of hours it took for my wheelchair to fully charge was 24 hours and the total of hours I actually charged my chair was 86 hours.These numbers shocked me because I never realized I do this much travelling in one week in the Winter. Just image what I do in one week when it’s Spring or Summer, it’s gotta be double or triple the miles.

While working on this film I never considered looking at this stuff and I’m trying to figure out why because this type of research that I’m doing for my presentation matters in my daily life, this is what I do in order to make it through the day without my wheelchair losing power and me being stranded someone in the city. This is something that I have to look at when I’m shooting my film in different locations throughout Chicago and that is the travelling aspect because it’s not just important to the film but to me as well. I really have to think about that and hopefully I’ll get an answer through this film journey.

On Friday I’ll talk about my film adventures and the fun I’m having shooting this film.

Take Care,
Justin