Archive for the ‘Descriptive Movies’ Category

Reid My Mind Radio: A Note on Notes on Blindness

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

In this episode of RMM Radio, I take a look at Notes on Blindness, a new film released in the US and premiering in NYC. It’s the story of John Hull who recorded his thoughts, observations and more on audio cassette. This Gatewave story includes a conversation with Co-Director Peter Middleton.

 

Scenes from the movie Notes on Blindness super imposed in the head of John Hull.

It’s pretty hard to watch a movie about someone going blind without thinking of my experience. Checkout some of my own personal recordings included in this episode.

 

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– In the meantime, hit the Play button below!

 

Resources:

 

Transcript

 

TReid:

 

Today I am sharing a recent piece for Gatewave Radio. A first of sorts for me.
A story about a new film being released in the United States on the topic of blindness.

This was a challenge for me, I’ll tell you why after you take a listen.

Let’s Go!

[Sample from Kurtis Blow’s AJ… “1, 2, 3, 4 hit it!]
Music … Reid My Mind Radio Theme

[Notes on Blindness Audio:
John Hull:
This is cassette 1 , track one, um… fades out]

TReid:
This audio is from the movie titled Notes on Blindness, just released in New York City and playing at the Film Forum.

Theologian, John Hull using a cassette recorder, documented his experience and thoughts as his vision faded beginning in 1983.

The film was produced using both actual   tape of John Hull and his family as well as interviews he and his wife Marilyn had with co-directors Peter Middleton and James Spinney.

Actors portray John and his family, but they are lip syncing to the recorded dialog.

I spoke with co-director peter Middleton (PM) via Skype.

PM:
Using film to try and convey the sightless experience is quite an exciting creative challenge for us. So undoubtedly there was that sense of artistic project which first attracted James and myself to John’s story.

TReid in conversation with PM:
Water seems to play a big role; the idea of the rain, the tsunami…

PM:
We can’t take much credit for that. It’s all in John’s account. After losing sight he had these incredible powerful operatic dreams that were, often water was this kind of analogous feature of them…
He would have dreams of water sort of rushing down and sweeping his children away and dragging him to the depths of the ocean. And all this kind of very powerful imagery that was just absolutely kind of laced throughout his account. And of course the connotation of water as the bringer of life.

TReid:
Remember, The original audio used throughout the film was recorded via cassette in the 1980’s. Audio restoration, editing and sound design  are other artistic elements of the film.

It was the inclusion of audio description that gave me access to some of the visual techniques used to tell the story.

Like Shadows, blurred or out of focus fades and sun spots.
Darkness acting like periods, concluding a statement, some times
an exclamation mark or bold emphasis highlighting a turning point in his life.

Peter says audio description served more than giving people with vision loss access.

PM:
Since we’ve been releasing as well we’ve been trying to open this conversation around accessibility and different ways people could approach the film so it has taken on that kind of social angle as well which we’re very  much relishing and very much hoping to push further.
TReid:
In addition to the audio description, a Virtual Reality experience and enhanced audio version were created.

PM:
Which rather than having an external audio narration as you would do in audio description, actually built in  more narration from John and Marilyn, the key subjects of the film, along with sort of sound design and music. We’ve been releasing these audio tracks with a smart phone app that allows audiences to sync that up in cinemas or on TV o\r on DVD or home  or what have you.

TReid:
Director Peter Middleton said John Hull was very specific about assuring that Peter and his Co-director James Spinney understood this was just one experience.

PM:
He was always careful to point out that he didn’t intend to speak for or on behalf of anybody. So we were aware that our kind of knowledge and our experience of blindness is very much refracted through his subjective story and subjective account.

TReid:
Yet a close examination can provide some insight into the shared vision loss experience. Like the strong need to continue.
For some that means continuing an education or a hobby.
In Hull’s case it meant his career.

[Notes on Blindness Audio
John Hull recalling a conversation :
No, look, how do blind people read big books?
They said, they don’t!]

TReid:
Finding new ways for accomplishing a task, well that’s a big part of a person’s adjustment to blindness.

[Notes on Blindness Audio
John Hull:
The first thing I did was build a team of people to record books for me

With ingenuity and a little bit of help there were problems that could be solved.]

TReid:
Resolving some of these basic difficulties offers hope!

Until… the next even more difficult problem arises.

[Notes on Blindness Audio
John Hull:
It wasn’t until The final tiny bit of light sensation slowly disappeared that my mood changed.]

TReid:
Another obstacle in the process of adjusting to blindness, , maintaining or establishing relationships.

Hearing his daughter scream as she plays in the garden,
John tries to quickly get to her aid.

[Notes on Blindness Audio plays in the background.]

When he arrives , Marilyn is comforting her and already has the problem under control.

[Notes on Blindness Audio
John Hull:
That was a frightening moment.]

He struggles with feelings  of inadequacy as a father.

[Notes on Blindness Audio
John Hull:
The discovery that you are useless is not a nice discovery for any father to make.]

Relationships with his wife, parents and even with God are all parts of his own journey.

Notes on Blindness, while a personal portrait of one man’s experience losing vision, is a poetic but practical look at the journey through loss.

Take for example, the role and importance of adaptations.

[notes on Blindness Audio playing in the background.
John his son Thomas saying bye to one another. ]

After Walking his son Thomas to school in the morning,
we watch as the father and son practice their special way of saying goodbye.
It’s the equivalent of both child and parent watching one another move further apart while assuring both the other is just still close
enough if needed.

[Notes on Blindness Audio: Their exchange of goodbyes growing further apart and his son Thomas’ voice fades with each goodbye.
John Hull describing the practice:
Echoing in chorus!]

We witness not only the bonding between father and son, but Hull’s appreciation for these small yet meaningful adaptations in his life.

[Notes on Blindness Audio
John Hull:
“I Love this!”]

Treid:
It’s not a movie for just the audience.

TReid in original conversation with PM:
What have you personally learned about blindness after all of this work?

PM:
Spending so much time with John and being able to listen to his account and researching has lead us to further research on different kind of people’s experiences. It’s been an incredibly fascinating process for us.

TReid:
Vision, often considered as the most feared sense to lose, yet the dialog offered by Hull and the sound design and music have a very calming effect. As if saying, it will all be  alright. Or maybe that’s just my final note on blindness.

The film has been nominated for 6 British Independent Film Awards including:
Best British Independent Film
Best Debut Director
Outstanding Achievement in Craft

You can catch Notes on Blindness beginning November 16  in New York City
at the Film Forum. Other cities are soon to follow. As well as on demand distribution in the future.
Visit BlindnessMovie.com for more on dates and information.
you can find them on Twitter @OnBlindness

I’m Thomas Reid;

[Notes on Blindness Audio
John Hull and son Thomas exchange goodbyes…
John Hull:
Until his voice becomes faint.]

TReid:
For Gatewave Radio

[Notes on Blindness Audio
John Hull and son Thomas exchange goodbyes…]

TReid:
audio for independent living.

[Notes on Blindness Audio
John Hull: “I love this!”]

T.Reid:
When I received an email asking if I were interested in doing a story on a new movie called Notes on Blindness, my first thought was …
“I don’t think you’re going to want me to do that!”

I like to profile people who are doing things that ultimately dispel the misperceptions about blindness.

I’m cynical  when it comes to movies  about blindness and disability.
My experience says they are probably going to be the sappy  oh look at this poor guy or wow, isn’t this person so amazing!

This, was not that!

Naturally I thought of my own experience while watching.
I guess you could say it was a comparison of notes!

The scene when he rushed to his daughter after hearing her scream;
I had my own similar experience and questioned my usefulness in emergencies.
Fortunately, I realized there’s no way I’m useless… as Hull felt at that time.

Again, the experience of blindness is specific to the individual.

One scene, John talks about how he can no longer
conjure up an image of his oldest daughter or his wife…

I never experienced that…
In fact I vividly remember both and
way more.

I don’t think it’s a spoiler so I’ll share that Hull comes to see blindness as a gift.
He’s clear to say it’s not a gift he would want for his children, but he recognizes there’s something there.

I don’t think I ever referred to it as a gift, but I know it’s not a curse.

I found myself very much curious about how John’s vision loss impacted his children. Specifically, his oldest daughter Imogen  who was around the same age as my oldest when I went blind.
She reflects on her relationship  with her father both as a child an as an adult in a short film titled Radio H.

[Audio from Radio H]

Notes on Blindness was focused on Hull’s experience with blindness and
not much time interacting with his kids.
At least not much that showed a playful side.
Like the tapes he made of his children performing and
him telling adventure and spooky stories.

It reminds me of some of the early recordings I did with my kids…

[Audio of Thomas and his children when they were younger.]
I’m a  sucker for Daddy Daughter stories!
For more on Notes on Blindness or Radio H;
see the links in the resource section included with the notes for this episode on Reid My Mind.com.

While you’re there, hit that subscribe button or subscribe to Reid My Mind Radio via iTunes.

Peace!

PennyPushUps is now The RAE of Hope

Saturday, September 10th, 2016

PennyPushUps since 2013 has been my family’s awareness and fundraising campaign to spread information about Retinoblastoma, the childhood eye cancer that is responsible for my loss of both my eyes.

As the parent of a RB survivor it seemed right to try and do something to spread awareness.

 

The original idea was pretty straight forward; I’ll complete 100 push-ups a day and you sponsor me like a walk-a-thon just 1 cent per push-up… do the math!

 

The campaign turned into us sharing our story as well as others impacted by the cancer. Probably not a shock considering I enjoy telling people’s stories. The shock was I thought I could easily do this on video. Fortunately, I wasn’t 100 percent wrong. (Non visual video editing is possible… I do it!) Even more fortunately, my wife thought she could do a better job at the video production. She was right and she began to earn her keep and her name… Super Producer Marley Marl now formally known as Super Producer Marlett!

 

It became apparent that people weren’t really interested in my push-ups. One of the comments on the videos went something like; “Really interesting and important but why is there a guy doing push-ups.” LOL! I guess they didn’t listen to the introduction which summarized everything I just said about the campaign.

 

Logo for The RAE of Hope - a beam of light shining on to the earth from space

Focusing on raising awareness & empowering others while raising funds for World Eye Cancer Hope the name sort of wrote itself when we let the universe take over… The RAE of Hope, “Shining a light on a childhood eye cancer”.

 

We just finished airing our first full week of videos. We post them to our Facebook page “The RAE of Hope” and via YouTube.

 

I would love for you to come on over and “Like” our FB page or follow us on twitter @TheRAEofHope. The stories this year feature a bit more in the way of video production but the full story is told via audio. In fact, this year we incorporated closed captions available via YouTube, so we’re fully accessible – the way it should be!

 

Below is our playlist of all our videos so if this works properly you could pretty much bookmark this post and watch the latest video as we move through the month. We post new videos every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

 

Tell a friend and help us spread the word about Childhood Cancer it can truly save a life and sight!

 

Reid My Mind Radio: Joshua Miele – The Maker

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

Picture of Joshua Miele

This latest episode of RMM Radio features a profile of a very accomplished Scientist who has been defined for something that occurred as a child. Today, we’re going to explore what helped him get to running his own lab at Smith Kettlewell, creating and launching the YouDescribe service and his latest venture, creating a community for Blind Makers to develop robots and more using the ArduinoPicture of the Arduino with exposed circuitry

Listen now and meet Joshua Miele , the Scientist, Physicist, Inventor… the Maker! Then don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to the RMM Radio Podcast

Resources: – Blind ArduinoJoshua Miele on TwitterThe San Francisco LighthouseSmith Kettlewell

2016 Oscars Audio Description Included?

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

This past Sunday February 28 I tuned into the 88th Academy Awards to hear how Chris Rock handled the so called controversy. If you’re not familiar, with several movies this year featuring African American actors delivering what many would describe as Oscar worthy performances, for the second year in a row not a single African American or to my knowledge any person of color was nominated for an Oscar. Jada Pinkett Smith, actor and wife to Will Smith who delivered one of those performances, decided to call for a boycott. Now I know many are thinking, “Yo T, how the hell does that relate to audio description? Hang on, I’ll get there!

Chris Rock who was scheduled to host the Oscars prior to the call for a boycott was urged by some to quit. I didn’t agree with that. In fact, if we had some sort of “Black Council” formed to deal with such matters, and I was appointing the person to address the issue in the role of host, I honestly can’t think of another entertainer who could do a better job. Chris hits hard, no apologies, but does it in a way that is funny and entertaining to most. He can administer the medicine which may be hard to swallow for some, but it goes down. And everybody’s getting some medicine!

His opening monolog put the issue into perspective while the simple summary captured the goal of the ultimate desire prompting a boycott “…we want opportunity. We want black actors to get the same opportunities as white actors.”

Following Chris’ monolog I was half listening to the list of nominees in the first category; when I noticed the voice of one of the presenters providing audio description for the nominated scene. I stopped browsing the web and listened carefully. Unfortunately, by that time, the winner was announced and I didn’t even hear which category. I thought to myself, “Wow, do they actually have a category for best description?” I went back to the web. A few minutes later, once again I hear what sounds like audio description. This time coming from no other than Russell Crow. I know that voice, that’s Gladiator, I can tell you details about the day I saw that movie – if you have a lot of time to spare!

So by this time, I was getting excited. Yes, I get pretty happy when there’s an effort made to include access for me and others with vision loss. I’m a fan of movies and now I almost only watch a movie if it includes audio description.

If it weren’t for the Oscar’s lack of diversity as in #OscarsSoWhite, I wouldn’t have heard about the inclusion of description. I’m pretty in tuned to the blindness community and things related. Shouldn’t I have heard that the Academy Awards were offering audio description?

I sat up, grabbed my digital recorder in anticipation of the next category. I’m going to express my gratitude, I thought. I want to publicly congratulate the Academy for including me, including us! The next category is announced and I hit record…, nothing! No description. “Ok, that makes sense, “I think to myself, “way too much dialog in the scene to include description.”

Fast forward through the next few categories…, nothing!

“Ouie, What’s up with that…!” – Keenan Thompson, Saturday Night Live

So was I the only person hearing voices that night?

Nope. From the clip above someone else heard it.

 

2016 Oscars Audio Description, What happened?

  • You missed the other categories including description (0%, 0 Votes)
  • The description included was only applicable to the first two award categories. (0%, 0 Votes)
  • This was a test for some future project. (0%, 0 Votes)
  • It was a tease! (0%, 0 Votes)
  • You are hallucinating. (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 0

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As with every under represented group of people…”We just want to be included”

Reid My Mind Radio: The Super Hero Behind Marvel’s Daredevil

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

Netflix launched their new series Marvel’s Daredevil earlier this month. While they received some negative feedback from the blind community and others for not including audio description, this piece doesn’t address that. However, be sure to check out the piece I did for the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind’s Talking Advocacy & government titled Behind the Scenes of Netflix Advocacy.

 

I was fortunate to have a chance to talk to Joe Strechay from the American Foundation for the Blind. He is the man behind Daredevil…well hit play and find out what I mean!