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SEDONA——A group of entrepreneur filmmakers (who are blind) are visiting Sedona with a documentary film crew, led by local Dave Epstein, who is Loveling called Sedona Dave by his friends and fans  (as he is Sedona’s only resident who is blind).

“I moved to Sedona just as my vision loss progressed to legal blind status. I love the land, and I feel that it is a healing place, especially for me as I have been learning to live with blindness,” says Sedona Dave. 

 

The film is fittingly titled: “See Sedona Blind”, as it features the top 3 hikes with fun tactile features that people who are blind will enjoy. 

 

“There are hikes with sections were the rock comes up like the gutter of a bowling alley, and this is a LOT of FUN for people using my specialty designed hiking cane, for the blind, that accents all tactile terrain below it,” says Sedona Dave. 

 

Five influencers, who are blind, have plane tickets and lodging booked for Dec. 2 - 7 in Sedona, joined by the Working While Blind documentary film crew, and their sighted filmmaking mentor Brent Dey. 

 

The dream of creating the film grew from a discussion Sedona Dave had while workshopping his marketing plan for his primary business, Awarewolf Gear at blindDANCE Studios in Baltimore, were he was along side the Working While Blind film crew daily for five weeks. 

 

“I felt the magic right away, when the Working While Blind crew, from the blindDANCE Film Festival asked me about making a documentary film featuring hikers who are blind,” says Sedona Dave. 


The blindDANCE Film Festival is an online competition with various categories over the next 12 months, with winners premiering their films (in person) next year, in Baltimore November of 2021.

 

“We are honored to work with Sedona Dave for this film, and grateful he is supporting film making among people who are blind by hiring the Working While Blind film crew” says blindDANCE CoFounder Ben Fox, who is legally blind and a former Sundance filmmaker, who at the age of 18 had two milestones that would change everything. 

 

“I was one of the first teens to have a film in Sundance’s Gen-Y Theatre, and I’m told a few months later I have may be facing blindness,” says Fox. “My heart broke. I erased Hollywood from the five year plan and penciled in preparations to go blind.”

 

Fox says at that time, he simply didn’t understand someone could have vision for filmmaking and succeed without sight. Which is why, he says blindDANCE is highlighting the motto of ’no limits’ for the blind. 

 

The categories of the festival are focused on succeeding without sight, while thriving in life, and especially at work. 

 

Organizers say it is their hope that employers take note of the “how” behind each of the stories shared of success.

Prizes for outstanding films include: cash, trips to film workshops, cool cutting edge technology, and (perhaps top of the list) several paid positions or projects (with blindDANCE Studios)  in the movie business.

 

“Can win prizes? You can, If you have five minutes and a story, succeeding without sight. You are filmmaker if you have a cell phone and a camera. Who knows, maybe this is the moment the world learns about your story,” says Bari Azman, President of the Board, for the parent organization of blindDANCE, the Lannie D. Chesapeak Lighthouse. 

Several full-length films, by award winning filmmakers who are blind, have already been accepted. These films have been assembled for the first time together in one festival, in one place with a unique category for films made before 2020 by filmmakers who are blind. You may have seen one of the great films, like Driving Blind, circulating other film festivals recently. 

blindDANCE is arriving year one, out of the gate, with some impressive partnerships bringing technology and accessibility to any filmmaker who has a desire to share their story, announcing Aira as the title sponsor for the event. 

 

How does this help filmmakers who are blind? 

 

Aira, through a smart phone, delivers instant access to visual information at the touch of a button – enhancing everyday efficiency, engagement, and independence by pairing individuals with sight-loss with highly trained agents (who view the camera feed through the client’s smartphone). 

“Make films with Aria’s help. We are proud to offer a pool of 10,000 Aira minutes to be given as scholarships to blindDANCE filmmakers,” says Aira CEO Troy Otillio. "Also, we are excited to award a stipend for a paid spot on our next online advertising campaign, to the winner of the Aira film category: 'Working While Blind with Aira’."

“The motto ‘No Limits’ for the blind is a slogan coined and exemplified by the American Foundation for the Blind. We are pleased to note AFB has category in the blindDANCE film festival honoring Hellen Keller, as we all celebrate the 100-year anniversary of AFB in 2021,” says Azman. 

 

The Working While Blind crew recently enjoyed working with the CEO of the American Foundation for the Blind, Kirk Adams while filming a series produced for the jobseeker who is blind by blindDANCE studios. 

“blindDANCE and LD Lighthouse are poised to make a real impact for good in the blindness community, and potentially a significant impact to the unemployment rate as well,” says Adams.

Additionally, blindDANCE recently put plans in motion to develop a category featuring films about policies, legislation and the process for advocating for rights as a person who is blind, inspired after consulting with the President of the National Federation of the Blind, Mark Ricabono. 

 

Those who are blind and new to filmmaking, and looking for a good place to start, consider the monthly filmmaking workshops (sponsored by Aira and blindDANCE Studios). 

 

“Students will learn the fundamentals of storytelling, the positions on a film-crew and what those roles entail. We will hear from actual industry professionals who ARE working while blind right now,” says Fox.

 

blindDANCE Studios is currently in production with three full-length documentary film projects. Working While Blind, See Sedona Blind, and Climbing With Light featuring Orly the Blind Chef who is in training for a climb to the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro. 

Filmmakers may enter to win the "Five Minute Thrive” Story contest right away by submitting videos to the blindDANCE Film Festival Facebook page. Share how you succeed without sight at life and or at work. A number of winners will win an all-expanses paid trip to one of three, filmmaking workshops in 2021, located in Sedona (AZ), Baltimore (MD) or join us on the beach of Rocky Point Mexico in May. 

Visit blindDANCEstudios.org for details on these contests and submission timelines and details. 

Currently we have the ability to award a total of 20 scholarships, conditions permitting. These workshops last 5 days, action packed, full of fun, learning and good food, as we film video to share with the world.

For inquiries about blindDANCE Studios or the working with the Working While Blind film crew, email: bfox@ldlighthouse.org  

Film DATES (arrive a day early and leave a day after)

DEC. 2020 - 3, 4, 5, 6  

This is a documentary film featuring the behind the scenes friendship and stories of five people who are blind business owners.  Join us as we explore the energy of Sedona (can we see it blind?) and what it opens for us as we discuss our own lives and projects as we experience all nine of the top destinations of Dave Epstein's SEE SEDONA BLIND tours, and also the FOOD of CENTRAL Arizona. 

 

A group of influencers (who are blind and also leaders of companies) come together for the pilot tour of SEE SEDONA BLIND tours, with the founder of Awarewolf (high visibility gear for blind athletes) David Eptsien AKA Sedona Dave.

 

WHO are the FILM MAKERs who are BLIND and the MENTORS?

Dave Epstein - Blind Designer / Outdoor Guide / Entreprenuer

You are not in this alone. AwareWolf Gear is with you to help you get recognized in a quieter, gentler way. And I am here to help keep it that way.

I haven’t been blind my whole life. Having RP, I witnessed a slow loss of vision over the course of several decades.  The time came to accept my present state, and apply for O&M training.

My “Blind Teacher” worked diligently to get me at least somewhat graceful with “Thing 2,” one of many mobility canes.   I practice “being blind” on the streets of Sedona, still using my vision for navigation, while letting Thing 2 identify terrain changes and obstacles.  

 

Very quickly did I get frustrated as I learned that, as hard as I work the cane and skills, my safety is often jeopardized by people- pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists alike- who simply are not paying attention, or ride on the sidewalk, or doing who-knows-what on their phones. “What more do I need to do to be safe around here?”

Ben Fox - The "Blind Advocate"/ Journalist / Photographer

I've worked as a journalist, ran a small media/marketing company and founded an organization that supports people transitioning to blindness while raising awareness about the spectrum of blindness (AlmostBlind.org). 

 

About 20 years ago, when I was 18, I had two milestones in life.

FIRST: I was able to show a short film in the first year of the Gen-Y theater at the Sundance film festival

and SECOND: I was told to prepare for progressive blindness as I underwent two eye surgeries for detached retinas (one in each eye). I wondered then what a future in film making could possibly look like. Now I'm 37 and legally blind with an additional diagnosis of Retinits Pigmintosa and a cataract too, but you know what?  I am ready to get back to film making! White Canes, Camera, ACTION!"

Orly Shamir - The Blind Chef - EARLY Retired Executive 

My name is Orly which means "My Light" and I will show you that cooking, like life, is best experienced as a multi-sensory treat that will bring your vision to perfect clarity – if not through the eyes, then through the heart. I will be feeding the crew during this show, and in fact, I'm producing a cooking show of my own.

I had a career working with TD Bank, and also a background in interviewing before dedicating my life to working with food and helping people "see" through the heart. 

I have a passion for cooking, always being creative in my dishes.  I love to entertain, I love good wine, and really have been moving towards a more healthier life style.I exercise, and have made a conscious choice of how I live life!  It’s inevitable for all of us that life will deal out hard circumstances and challenges.  What has made the difference for me in my life journey, is how I react, move forward and choose to thrive.

Charlie Collins - President Low Vision International (US)

Charlie Collins is the Founder and CEO of both Vision Dynamics and CCI (Charlie Collins International). He is a well-respected Transformational Professional Speaker, Certified Professional Success Coach, and author who inspires people to live with clear vision. Legally blind since age 13, Charlie struggled with accepting his vision loss and understands the pitfalls of low self-esteem. His “Tripping Into The Light” seminars, based upon real life challenges, offer participants a sense of hope by teaching how to create clear, attainable visions of success. Charlie lives in Connecticut with his wife and two daughters. In his spare time he loves to play the guitar, ride his mountain bike and go on hikes, but most of all he enjoys spending time with his family and friends. √

Krystall Allen - President Eyes Like Mine Inc.

Newark New Jersey native Krystle Allen serves as the founder and president of Eyes Like Mine Inc. Krystle is a millennial entrepreneur and non-profiteer who is no stranger to work that involves community development, social change, and grassroots efforts. When she is not attending to Eyes Like Mine matters, she is employed with the New Jersey Commission For the Blind and Visually Impaired under the Department of Human Services in the role of the community outreach specialist. Krystle has served on the access committee of the Jersey City non-profit organization Art House Productions Inc for the past four years.  Krystle’s introduction to the non-profit sector began when working with the Montclair YMCA for eight years in the extended care program.

Krystle is a graduate of Newark’s University High School and continued her education by majoring in social science at Essex County College Newark, NJ campus. Currently, she is actively pursuing her enrollment in the Leadership Newark class of 2020 to strengthen her leadership abilities further. Lastly, Krystle has completed a community training program through the Greater Newark L.I.S.C. Despite her vision loss, Krystle has a vision gained to impact one community at a time through her combined advocacy activities.

Bari Azman  - MENTOR to the BLIND 

"I'm Bari Azman, an expert launch and business growth specialist with startups. Although I am all in with the low vision and blindness communities, I got my start by supplying the global airline industry. I served as President of IDT Jets where I administered more than fifteen overseas manufacturing facilities while directing sourcing, creative, retail and business development. 

 

Right now I serve as VP of Marketing and Wearable Technology for Low Vision Specialists of MD & VA, a multi-office practice that specializes in working with patients suffering from low vision. It was my honor to be part of the team that collaborated with Samsung in the development of IrisVision... Which if you don't know, is the most advanced medical device for low vision patients on the market today. I am  worked tirelessly in the launch of the advanced eSight product throughout the Northeast,

 

It's my job to guide the launch of this show and to be the final go to for anyone who needs help. Mentors play a vital role in the process of this documentary series, both blind and sighted. They will step in and give coaching sessions to our team in each episode. We have an expert in each field required for each of our projects: cinematography, voice over, marketing, that advises on each." 

Brent Dey has strategized content, directed large video and multimedia projects and written copy for leading companies in hospitality, financial services and information technology. He has been lead copywriter on marketing campaigns, internal communications programs, print advertisements and video scripts for B2B and B2C marketing. 

Brent's solid understanding of business and marketing principles is matched by an often-hilarious creative sensibility that has been honed through participation in various creative organizations throughout Atlanta. He helped establish one of Atlanta’s first improvisational comedy troupes(Whole World Theatre) and has been active in the local independent film community as a founding member of The Atlanta Dailies Film Project.

A strategic and critical thinker, Brent uses techniques developed through years of creative storytelling to make the complicated understandable and the attractive irresistible. He has an innate sense of organization and quickly grasps new concepts. His warm affinity for people translates to an immediate sense of what will resonate with different audiences. In short, Brent knows how to communicate with people with stories that inspire and sell. 

Brent Day - Pro Filmmaker / Mentor