"A WORLD WITHOUT BOUNDARIES"
by Chris Chaos and Baron Craze
“Bringing sighted individuals into the world of the sightless, even though they are sighted, maybe they are the ones that cannot see.”
In 2008 we formed Pine Barren Films, out of the shadows of underground video company Axis Video, with the intent to reach and to go for more mainstream projects, so we brainstormed and pondered several different topics to produce a documentary on. After much deliberation, we agreed on a documentary centered on the topic of blindness and vision loss. We also had to create a separate company due to all the underground material that Axis Video
was associated with. Pine Barren Films was born and the name captured the flavor of the company, born and bred in New Jersey with the subject matter centering in our home state. So we contacted many of the blind organizations in the US and the requests came flooding in. First on the interview schedule was Mercer County, then Monmouth County Association for the Blind, then La Costa in Newark, the international Lion's Club President and finally various
individuals around our area. We also worked with and had Albert Rizzi, from New York, as our tour guide to the world of the blind, he pointed us towards some very interesting people for the film. He will also attempt to draft up some paperwork that we can use to submit for grants for this film.
Naming the film:
After running under the tentative title of "INTO THE DARKNESS", we have decided to change the title to: "A WORLD WITHOUT BOUNDARIES". We searched high and low for a title, looking at quotes by notable people in reflection to the topic of Blindness and vision loss, but couldn't find anything that made sense for the title of our movie. So our producer/writer, Mike, finally worked in the title. Basically the title is a reflection of the people we are interviewing:
despite a setback or a limitation on one of their senses...THIS WORLD HAS NO BOUNDARIES FOR THEM! They will push on and keep achieving and moving forward.
Documentary nominated as a finalist in volunteer contest:
While promoting the concept of the film and looking for supporters and outlets to show it when the documentary is complete, we came across a contest by Comcast Cable that would donate the winnings to the charity of our choice. We entered (the concept of) "A WORLD WITHOUT BOUNDARIES" in this contest and then Comcast Cable had selected A WORLD WITHOUT BOUNDARIES as a finalist (1 out of 3 FINALISTS) for receiving their charitable donation
for volunteer work. If we were to win this prize, we were allowed to make the winning check out to any charitable organization that we choose. The fiscal quarter that this nomination came up was the quarter that THE MONMOUTH COUNTY ASSOCIATION for the BLIND was assisting us the most. So if we were to win, the winnings would have gone to Al and his crew. Like we said, any prize, nomination, or cash that this project generates, will be donated to the
organizations that assisted us in the production. We did not win the contest but received notable mention for coming in third place.
We conducted an internet email interview with Katherine, Professional Speaker and Consultant. We simply emailed her our questions and then she provided her answers to us in a recorded audio format that will be included on the documentary. (I am unsure of where this interview fit into the timeline, so I just put it 1st in the interview section.
On August 9th 2008, PINE BARREN FILMS interviewed members of the MERCER COUNTY ASSOCIATION FOR THE BLIND courtesy of their President, Ottilie. The event is sponsored by the Trenton Elks Club, special thanks for allowing us to use their grounds.. The individuals interviewed were Ottilie, Bob, Cheryl, Bob, Larry, and Mary Joe. All went well and excellent interviews were obtained.
BARON CRAZE (Concerning formulating the concept for A World Without Boundaries):
"We decided to create our first documentary, on blindness, the original title from Chris was "Into the Darkness"; however, I offered another title, the main one that many championed, A World Without Boundaries, under the company of Pine Barren Films. A fighting spirit that encourage one not to give up or back down, regardless of the issue, substance or that now or has always hinder themselves to achieve greatness. Our first group interview was with the Monmouth County Blind Association, located in none other than Monmouth country, the group of Axis Video (and in this situation Pine Barren Films) had changed yet again with new crew now joining us. The building had an interesting background with it formerly being a KKK building, takeover by the state and redistributed. What also added to the eeriness of the building was the décor, around it from the outside, a cemetery on corner, a lumberyard on another and a closed gas station.
If one paused for a moment to reflect on history of how these three other locations played factor with each other over the course time especially during a period that had cruelty to African Americans. The individuals were great to interview and we learn some interesting facts of how to approach others, we had support for the film, nothing financial but that is not new for Axis Video. After that success, next was arranging a meeting with Dr. Kimberly Kester
Friedman, OD at the Moorestown Eye Associates in Moorestown NJ, an eye place that is run with her husband Les, but Dr. Kim is more media savvy, and fully agreed to give a Saturday afternoon for the interviews. There were flubs on her part and that made the interview more human, she was terrific and really showed that she cared for her patients and explains everything to her patients in simple terms with a great patience and true enlightening aspects.
Then was an event with National Blindness Association that has an internal disagreement with the position of American Blindness Association of America. Here we learn of some unusual aspects, first that they, their members, who are blind wish for the FAA, to allow them to have door and aisle seats and in the emergency of accident that they be there to help people. Their reasoning, in a crash its likely be dark, and people would panic and since they can be
calmed, as their world is darkness. So far, the FAA has not permitted nor changed their position on this issue – I would tend to agree with them on this issues. The second was a younger man, who stated his future children would be born blind and added that they be deaf too, this was jaw dropping to us and really made me stutter to regain composure, and asked the question again to make sure then answer was correct – it was, definitely. I never met a parent that ever dreamed that for their children.
We had individuals upset with us when we listed that photographed and placed in the film that usual traffic sign “Blind Person Area”. Many did not know the signs existed and did want them either, and that motorists should be watching for them. A topic was difficult for us to explain. There are many blind organizations that did not want the federal government to permit the electric car for it runs silent and could be used a murderous tool to kill them and commit genocide against them – another viewpoint that overwhelmed them. Others were Gary Gustin’s father, James W. Gustin Jr., (who has since passed away), our condolences to you Gary, he was a wonderful person and solid interview, and that an associate showing us various machines that aid the blind and those with highly limited eyesight, legally blind individuals. Here again we added to more individuals to assist us, but regrettable I don’t recall their names, maybe for justified reasons, neither worked out and in fact had numerous problems on one of our on location shoots.
Then we found and met with Albert Rizzi and his dog Doxy, he’s blind and Doxy is his service dog from the New York area, who was very interesting and knew many celebs, here we thought their financial assistance on this problem, but that ended with no assistance. Albert later turned up in the news in 2013, when a US Airways had issues of handling his boarding with him boarding last and positioning of his dog, before takeoff. There was interest from police
department for a film of how to assist a blind person with the utmost respect and consideration of the needs and position in multiple situation, however the finances never materialized for the film.
A shorten version of A World Without of Boundaries, played on MiNDTV and earned Pine Barren Films $500 which sadly had unusual payout, problems with receiving the grant. This marked the last time we entered mainstream competition, and as for the MiNDTV festival, our film never played as it was the wrong type of interest for this event. This project lies in limbo with a tentative date for a feature film completion of 2016." Baron Craze.
While contacting various people and organizations it drew the attention of the international ambiance/techno artist, MOBY. He liked the concept so much he donated and allowed us to use select tracks of his work for the film. Other musicians that will be providing tracks for the film are Oliver Creak, Horizen Fireless, Marcus G, Iaptus, Judson Hurd, and Jarle Mogard. More will be added once we enter the editing stage.
On August 26th 2008, we conducted interviews with members of La Casa de Don Pedro: Krystal, Sonya, Regina, Kristyne, and Jean. They were a very welcoming crew welcomed us as we prepared to set up the interviews. Special thanks to La Casa de Don Pedro for allowing the interviews on their property. (www.lacasanwk.org)
On Oct 11th 2008, we interviewed James W. Gustin, JR and Gary Gustin, R.N. in PA. James was losing his eyesight and was a great man. Rest in Peace James!
On November 15th 2008, we conducted an interview with Dr. Kimberly Kester Friedman, OD. She answered our many questions concerning eye health and care. She also gave us a rundown of some common causes of vision loss and blindness. Dr. Kimberly will also be assisting us in finding more individuals to interview for our documentary.
(Dr. Friedman makes regular appearances on multiple local television stations and has authored numerous magazine and newspaper articles on eye care topics. She is often seen on Fox's Good Day! and Cn8's Your Morning with a recurring segment on eye topics. She has also appeared on NBC 10! and Comcast newsmakers. She is often published in print media including the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Courier Post, the Newark Star Ledger, the Asbury Park
Press, several local weekly papers, and the Burlington County Times. Her television appearances and print articles can be seen ay:: www.drkimberlyfriedman.com)
On Tuesday November 18th 2008, we will ventured back up to NYC to interview Albert Rizzi. Albert is very active in the Blind community so we were very excited to meet up with him and learn more about his contributions. While in lower Manhattan. We sat in on one of MY BLIND SPOT's meetings with their web developer that is designing Albert's website. He is also working closely with the web developer to make it "Blind Friendly", meaning that computer
assist programs like JAWS will work properly with his website. The interview went perfect, we learned about all the projects that Albert is working on to better the blind community and also other people that may be neglected by society due to a perceived "handicap". Albert has the drive and dedication of a well oiled machine. His lack of eye sight is not holding him back, that only adds fuel to his fire. Al is taking a position as a teacher in December but that
will not curtail his endeavors, he is working on his non profit, MY BLIND SPOT, developing his website, assisting us in our documentary, working on a franchise project for people with disabilities so they can become financially independent, trying to have a personal life and so much more....when his interview segment is released you will see all the good hard work that Al is doing.
After November's interviews we put a hold on many of the interviews until February since the flu season that year was very bad.
On February 24th 2009, we picked back up on the interviews and Pine Barren Films interviewed Jill, she trains Saluki show dogs and owns 5 Salukis and 1 German Shepard Guide Dog.
On February 28th 2009 Pine Barren Films interviewed John Poth (from Sage Vision Industries) and he demonstrated several products that his company has available to assist individuals with low or no vision, check out the equipment they have at www.SageVisionTech.com
On March 14th 2009, Pine Barren Films interviewed the New Jersey state President of the NFB (National Federation for the Blind) and member of the Lion's Club Joe Ruffalo. Joe gave us insight into his own personal life as well as some of the activities that the NFB is involved in. (www.nfb.org)
On March 28th 2009, NFB Braille Celebration: held the Release of Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar in Clark, New Jersey. Many people showed up in celebration of this event. We also had the opportunity to interview several attendees.
One of the most interesting persons that had provided an interview for the film was the International President of the Lions Club (www.lionsclubs.org), yes International President! This man has been around the world many times and has dined with Presidents and leaders from other countries, very influential. I traveled to New York alone to meet with President Albert Brandel and met Albert Rizzi there to assist me with the interview. Traveling alone up to NY for
this interview proved to be a challenge, all the people that normally assisted me on location shoots were not available, so it was just me and Al handling this session. Also included in this round of interviews was Paul Berman, O.D., F.A.A.O. (Founder and Global Clinical Adviser, Special Olympics Lions Clubs, International Opening Eyes) and finally we interviewed Wells B. Jones CEO of Guide Dog Foundation based in Smithtown, New York. (www.guidedog.org)
all three gentleman are stellar pillars in the blind community and continue to brighten the lives of those they serve. One interesting side note of this interview session was that Al has somewhat of a temper and during the interview a few times he became frustrated and cursed a bit. Now Mr. Brandel is very religious and the Lion's Club is known as a compassionate organization, so I am very sure that made him slightly uncomfortable.
PHILADELPHIA STORIES season 7 (through Mind TV) was looking for material for their new season of Philadelphia Stories, so we submitted for the 1 hour slot to produce a 56 minute version of our blind documentary called “A WORLD WITHOUT BOUNDARIES”. But since at the time Pine Barren Films was unknown they decided to not take a risk but did offer us a 5 minute version. So we painstakingly cut up a 5 minute version to have ready for their deadline. We sent off the 5 minute version and it was accepted and premiered on their TV channel in Philly and surrounding areas and also at their annual film festival. We are still working on and editing up different versions of A WORLD WITHOUT BOUNDARIES and once they are available, they will be distributed through our various outlets. Several short previews/promos are available online for viewing. (See links at the end of this article)
Many people have no perception of a blind individual other than what they see on TV or in a movie; they think that they can play piano or some kind of musical instrument, or that they are loathsome miserable creatures that cannot do anything for themselves. Although I am sure there are some blind people that fit both bills, along with sighted people, they are missing all the people in between, normal people that lead a normal life despite their limited or no
vision. The purpose of this film is to show a cross section of the blind community, from the extremely talented people that build, make and shape their community, to the person that is active in blind interests groups, to the person that goes to work and comes home and they are just living their life just like any other individual, sighted or blind. We will show the good and the bad issues associated with the topic of blindness, but we will focus on the strength of
those in the blind community that are living a normal healthy productive lifestyle, they will inspire future generation of people with limited or no vision. This film will also bring sighted people into the world of blind people. A blind individual is not amazing since they can play an instrument or have a job, they are amazing because they are human beings dealing with a loss of a sense and still making their way in life.
We polled several members of law enforcement and the medical field (with the exception of specialists) to see what training they may have received in relation to dealing with blind individuals, and most of them said they had zero training in the dealings with blind people.
A word with the filmmakers themselves on why they chose the topic of blindness and vision loss for a documentary topic:
"My Grandfather used to work for the company Fiberglass and one day while working, a piece hit him in the face and some of the glass fibers made their way into his eye. Then later on in life he suffered from macular degeneration and in his senior years he became about 90% blind. I saw how he had to purchase an expensive machine to assist him in reading the newspaper and books, and watched as his glasses got thicker and thicker. I witnessed how a
completely independent active man that loved to dance, was reduced to a man just sitting on a couch, struggling to read the daily newspaper with a big clunky expensive machine. So I went on to educate myself and familiarize myself with people in relatable situations. I hope that we can educate and unite individuals for a common goal."
"My involvement in this project is two-fold, primarily‚ my wife, has Multiple Sclerosis and is occasionally blinded in her left eye. There is not a lot information provide for those individuals or caregivers to give them respect and when to and how to assist. Her blindness is not long term currently, though it might be one day. In addition, I had undergone the Lasik Surgery to correct my worsening eye problem, leading to blindness, for over a dozen years my vision was
failing slowly. This surgery was to me, glowing success, with only one setback: sensitivity to bright lights, including sunlight. This surgery was expensive and not without risk, however the risk was worth the reward."
Announcing the direction of our film across various social media sites and blind organizations websites we received a warm reception for the concept of the film and many people had their own personal opinion on what should be included in the film, but since we were financing this out of our own pockets, we had to keep everything realistic.
As of the writing of this article, we filmed many segments and interviewed many people for this film and as far as shooting we feel this film is complete, so now the only thing left is to edit it. We might go and grab some B-Roll but Principle photography is now complete. It was a very interesting journey making the film and we all learned about the blind community along the way.
Below are a few teaser trailers for the film:
(Chris Chaos is a long time resident of South Jersey who once again resides in and writes from Gloucester City, New Jersey. He is a filmmaker, a business owner, writer, urban explorer and investigator of the odd and weird, a proud parent, happily taken and a connoisseur of hot wings. Chris can be reached at AxisVideo@aol.com)