April 26, 2016 by Todd Lillethun
Documentary editor Matt Lauterbach’s new project, BEYOND BLIND, is an interactive website exploring blindness from a sighted-person’s perspective. Back in 2006 he became fascinated by the topic when he began volunteering as a Touch Tour Guide for blind audiences at Victory Gardens Theater. Before the performance they were invited to wander the stage and feel the set, the props, and meet the actors in order to fully immerse themselves in the story. The range of experiences he observed often contradicted common beliefs about blindness, so instead of creating a film on the topic, Matt decided that these concepts were best served by an interactive website. Short mini-documentaries will profile stories about blindness, including an interview with Chicago-based blind playwright Tod Bauer, as a way of answering common questions about being blind. Visitors will also be able to build an eye through an interactive game, explore visual interpretations of blindness, and learn basic etiquette for serving as a sighted guide. The project has been funded in part by the Chicago Digital Media Production Fund, and Matt is raising money for finishing funds by the end of July.
Veterans Coming Home
Chicago-based Kindling Group and Wisconsin Public Television have partnered with veterans groups and 13 other public television stations across to the country for the cross-platform project VETERANS COMING HOME, a web-based initiative featuring stories about the military-civilian divide. Kindling recruited a team of veterans and civilian media-makers to travel the country and produce short videos, blog posts and photographs for posting on the Veterans Coming Home website, and to be incorporated into the series Stories of Service on PBS.org between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. According to the press release, “Veteran populations are becoming more geographically concentrated and culturally isolated. Many feel that they are not understood, nor are their experiences appreciated. Stereotypes of veterans dominate the media and focus on post-traumatic stress, homelessness, and suicide or extraordinary sacrifice and heroism.” By showing a wide range of stories and experiences, the series aims to break down stereotypes and start a national dialogue on veteran’s issues. Working from the road, the team is currently shooting in Nashville, TN, and will be moving on to Kansas City, MO next week. Viewers will be able to follow their journey and participate on social media through hashtag #VetsComingHome.
From the Ashes
Evansville, Indiana-based Court Street Productions is finishing post-production on the documentary FROM THE ASHES, which recounts the aftermath of a plane crash that killed the entire University of Evansville Purple Aces basketball team on December 13, 1977. Director Joe Atkinson interviewed over 75 people who remembers the team’s extraordinary season before it ended in tragedy – after winning five College Division national championships, they were the University of Evansville’s first NCAA Division I basketball program, and were headed to play Middle Tennessee State University outside of Nashville when their plane crashed shortly after takeoff. To residents of Evansville, who were avid basketball fans and had nurtured the team from the beginning, the blow was especially devastating. Eventually the program was restarted and made a path to the 1982 NCAA Tournament, but memories of the lost players and coach still linger, and continue to define the history of the town itself.
Todd Lillethun is a freelance producer and editor at Flicker Effects and student advisor at Northwestern University's MFA program for Documentary Media.