When Andrew Shelley decided to quit his job and backpack around the globe, he didn’t plan to have cameras tag along. But his friend Dusty Duprel realized that Shelley’s journey could make a powerful story. So the first-time director/producer pulled together the team to shoot, edit and produce the 91-minute film Beyond the Chair.
The documentary follows Shelley, 29, as he leaves a successful engineering career to set off on an adventure, despite his family’s concerns for his health and safety. Born with a progressive muscular degenerative disease that required his use of a wheelchair before age 25, Shelley was excited to challenge the limits of his new all-terrain power chair, the Frontier X5.
The journey stretched over several months, and included unpredictable adventures in India, Cambodia, Thailand, New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates.
The film’s distributor, Betsy Chasse of Intention Media, is an industry veteran who’s worked on more than 30 films. She made the hit documentary What the Bleep Do We Know!? It was narrated by Academy Award winner Marlee Matlin.
Before the recent premiere of Beyond the Chair, David S. Zimmerman, actor and founder of Meet the Biz, which offers workshops for entertainment professionals, interviewed Shelley, Chasse, Duprel and director/producer Rachel Pandza in Beverly Hills, CA.
Zimmerman: Dusty, how did you and Andrew meet?
Duprel: We met through a Craig’s List ad when we were both looking for roommates. We were roommates first, and then we became friends.
Zimmerman: What inspired you to make Beyond the Chair?
Duprel: After we had been roommates for a year, Drew decided that he was going to travel around the world. At first, I didn’t think it was such a big thing, because I know him and his personality. But after I told my friends about what he planned to do, they said we should make a documentary about it.
While filmmaking is the only thing I ever wanted to do, initially I wasn’t interested in documentaries at all. But this was a good learning experience, because you can make a lot of mistakes and correct them more easily in a documentary than you can if you make them in a feature film.
Chasse: Intention Media really liked the film, by the way, because it doesn’t feel like a documentary. It has a cinematic element to it that you don’t oftentimes find in a conventional documentary.
Duprel: We wanted it to have a narrative feel, so we modeled it, to an extent, after Murderball [an award-winning film about paraplegics who play full-contact rugby in wheelchairs], which was a great film that didn’t play like a documentary, either.
To incorporate the theme of the hero’s journey, we researched and read a lot of Joseph Campbell books and watched PBS specials. We saw that Andrew’s story was naturally the classic “hero’s journey.”
Zimmerman: Andrew, did you ever think your life would be the subject of a documentary? ...To read the full article, login or become a member --- it's free!
Beyond the Chair is available for purchase at btcmovie.com David Zimmerman is an actor, casting director, producer and teacher. For more information, visit meetthebiz.net
Beyond the Chair is available for purchase at btcmovie.com
David Zimmerman is an actor, casting director, producer and teacher. For more information, visit meetthebiz.net