Inclusion StatementWe're thrilled to partner with the Helen Keller National Center to cast a DeafBlind actor as one of our leads. It is vital that this story be told by a diverse community of artists, cast and crew. We're committed to fostering an inclusive environment in which every voice is welcomed and respected.
About The Project
ASL-Interpreted Version of the Intro Video
Feeling Through follows the story of Tereek, a kind but guarded teen wandering the streets of New York, desperate for a place to crash for the night, and his encounter with Artie, a DeafBlind man in need of help getting home. What begins as an awkward meeting between strangers becomes an intimate bond between friends and a nightlong journey that forever changes Tereek. It takes someone who can neither see nor hear Tereek to really know him, and in turn, inspire him to realize his own sense of purpose.
The journey of Feeling Through began seven years ago when I had a chance encounter with a man named Artemio on a New York City street corner. We shared an instant connection that night as Artemio was one of the most trusting and open-hearted people I had ever met. He also happened to be DeafBlind, and this experience not only inspired the story of Feeling Through, but motivated me to learn more about a community I realized I knew nothing about.
Fast forward to eight months ago when a phone call with the Helen Keller National Center propelled Feeling Through into the realm of possibility and grew the project into something far greater than I had imagined. As our relationship has evolved, I’ve gotten the opportunity to learn more about the work they’re doing and how Feeling Through can potentially benefit that work. I’ve also had the privilege of connecting with organizations like the Braille Institute and Commission on Compassion and the communities they serve in Los Angeles, and have even started taking beginning ASL classes myself. What felt like a brief but special connection seven years ago has blossomed into a life-changing journey.
Sue Ruzenski, Executive Director - Helen Keller National Center
Executive Director of Helen Keller National Center speaking on the importance of Feeling Through
It has been our ongoing dialogue with the Helen Keller National Center, as well as members of the DeafBlind community in both Los Angeles and New York, that has transformed this moving short film into a multifaceted campaign.
A coming of age story about the connection between a teen without a home and a DeafBlind man, Feeling Through will feature the first DeafBlind actor to play a lead role in a film, yet it is not a film about DeafBlindness. We aim to showcase this story’s universal appeal on both the film festival circuit and through various online platforms, while also seizing the opportunity to promote an authentic portrayal of a DeafBlind character in a film and challenge common stereotypes and misconceptions.
We will also capture the story within the story. A second film crew will chronicle the unique process of bringing this project to life, from the casting room to the cutting room floor, specifically highlighting the journey of the actor playing Artie, the impact of this artistic collaboration, and how it can inform future representations of the DeafBlind community in media.
We envision both films serving to promote DeafBlind awareness and inspire people to engage locally. To further support this effort we will be working with the Helen Keller National Center to launch a nationwide event series consisting of screenings of both films accompanied by a panel discussion with members of the DeafBlind community.
Each and every donation made to this campaign is tax deductible within the limits of the law. And if you are an individual or corporation with a particular charitable initiative, feel free to contact us at email@example.com for more information.
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**All money we raise beyond our film costs will go directly to the Helen Keller National Center.**
Writer/Director Doug Roland's last film, Jada, about a 7-year-old runaway living on Venice Beach, has over 15,000,000 views on YouTube, garnering tens of thousands of comments and messages from people all over the world deeply moved by it. We believe Feeling Through can have an even greater impact.
CREDITS(generous human beings):
Camera operators for the video:
- Steve Pierce: @some_point_you_know
- Austin Smoak: @austinsmoak7
Score: Ali Helnwein - @alihelnwein
Page graphics: Ryan Bergeron
Storyboard Images: Sam Smith - @samsmiththeartist
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About This Team
Doug Roland (writer • director • producer)
Based in Los Angeles and raised in New York City, Doug is an independent filmmaker who has a passion for telling stories of individuals and communities overlooked and underrepresented. His short film Jada played in over 2 dozen festivals around the world before becoming a viral sensation with more than 15 million views on YouTube, garnering thousands of comments and emails from viewers around the world deeply moved and inspired by it. Doug produced the feature film Life Hack which has racked up 16 awards on the festival circuit (including Best Independent Feature at the Cleveland International Film Festival), and will soon be available to view on multiple platforms. Doug studied film at the University of Wisconsin - Madison and FAMU in Prague.
Luis Augusto Figueroa (producer)
Born in Panama and raised in Washington, D.C., Luis's bicultural upbringing informs his
storytelling. Throughout his sixteen year career, he has performed in the Tony Award
winning productions of 42nd Street and Wicked while helming projects on both television and the silver screen. A graduate of The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City and student of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Luis draws from his experiences, having matured as an artist in the Big Apple, Los Angeles, and while touring the globe on stage. Expanding his craft, Luis has found writing and producing as a way for him to speak his voice and mold his vision, using film as the medium to express the unique and vulnerable human condition.
Desiree Abeyta (producer)
Desiree is a creative/producer who thrives on the process of taking projects from inception to production and onto completion. She has produced in a variety of media such as: promotional content for Google, YouTube Red (Rhett & Link), music videos for notable artists (Magic!, Steph Sexton, Jacob Whitesides), and award winning narrative work (Not It!, Pulse, Millieís 101 Things ). Desiree is drawn to socially conscious work that resonates with audiences, as well as, entertains.
Django Palty (producer)
Django is a Los Angeles-based actor and writer from San Francisco with a background in theatre and spoken word. Having spent the bulk of his childhood in an artist/activist warehouse, he developed an early love for storytelling and a profound respect for the transformative and unifying power stories hold. Django received his BFA in theater from Brooklyn College and has spent the past 10 years performing in theater and independent films in New York. He's had the privilege of developing work with The Actors Studio, LAByrinth, Boomerang, Stable Cable, Barefoot, Culture Project, and Exquisite Corpse.
Jessica Leventhal (producer)
Jessica has worked as a writer, producer, and development executive in Los Angeles for several years. Her credits includethe Academy Awards; the film Silver Linings Playbook; the staged reading of Dustin Lance Black’s “8” to benefit the American Foundation for Equal Rights’ SCOTUS case for marriage equality; the opening ceremony of the International Olympic Committee’s 2012 Women in Sports Conference; and a benefit for the Annenberg Foundation to help fledgling nonprofits. She also produced the concert I Am Harvey Milk at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall to benefit the Hetrick-Martin Institute for LGBTQ youth. Jessica is currently producing two feature films and writing a series for television. She grew up acting in New York City and studied English and theater at Yale University. Recently disabled by a chronic illness, Jessica understands firsthand the importance of representation and the power of kindness and compassion. She’s thrilled to be part of this important project.
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