October 28 -Earning My Masters’ in Journalism & Making My 8th Documentary

America’s Workforce – Empowering All

Reflecting a commitment to a robust and competitive American labor force, the 2018 National Disability Employment Awareness Month  (NDEAM) theme is “America’s Workforce – Empowering All!” Observed each October, NDEAM celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and educates about the value of a workforce inclusive of their skills and talents.

The Philadelphia “Employment 1st, Employment NOW!” Steering Committee is once again celebrating this event with a month of employment success stories. Each day we will be posting another success story about someone who is contributing to their community through employment. For those who have requested to receive our employment announcements, you will receive the link to the story in your mailbox. We invite you to join us as we celebrate the successes of people with disabilities working in our communities!

Earning My Masters’ in Journalism & Making My 8th Documentary

October 28 – David Block

Picture of man with visual disability reading a script
David Block, documentary producer / director

I am a legally blind journalist and documentary producer/director on the Autism Spectrum. Last December, I earned my Masters in Journalism at Temple University in Philadelphia. This past July, I finished producing and directing my 8th documentary (Who Said you Can’t Dance 2018). This started out as a simple school project that was never meant to turn into a documentary. With my limited vision, I shot wheelchair users from Widener Memorial School in Philadelphia dancing with Temple University students who were studying recreational therapy.

When I shot the video, my editor Val Keller accompanied me. Val is a professional editor I have worked with before. I needed for her to tell me which Widener students to point the video camera at because some of them wore vests, which meant that they were not to be videotaped.  Because of my limited vision, I was unable to see the vests, so I needed Val to make sure that I did not accidentally videotape them.

picture of woman teaching someone in a wheelchair how to ballroom dance
Melinda Kremer (left) teaching ballroom dance to a student using a wheelchair in documentary film, “Who Said You Can’t Dance”.

After looking at the footage and hearing the interviews, I wrote out a paper edit of how the short video was to be edited. Val followed my instructions.  I showed this video at Bryn Mawr Film Institute’s open screen night in February 2017. The audience urged me to try to make it into a documentary, and I listened to them.

The way the film currently was, no wheelchair users were interviewed. Based on what the Bryn Mawr audience told me I knew that the audience wanted to hear their comments about wheelchair ballroom dancing. I knew that American DanceWheels sometimes taught wheelchair ballroom dancing at the Inglis House in Philadelphia. In April, 2017 Val Keller – editor, James Wasserman – an additional cameraman, and I shot at Inglis House where we interviewed wheelchair dancers. We had about 30 minutes to get decent shots, which ideally takes two to three hours.

Here is the link to watch my documentary, Who Said You Can’t Dance:(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5LJfHn8pqc)

~Submitted by David Block,  documentary producer/director