My wife Marcia does video editing for Board Resource Center, an organization working with the California Department of Developmental Services to help adults with developmental disabilities become more self-reliant. Through this relationship I was introduced to a unique individual, Sam Durbin. We instantly bonded and I volunteered to be his mentor, guiding him toward his goal of writing a book, his 2nd. He lives in Orange County, so we usually communicate via phone and email, and on occasion meet in person. Our initial meeting was at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Sunset Boulevard in (of course) Beverly Hills. The meeting was about individual self determination and that grand hotel was the perfect setting for it. I’ll let you in on a little secret. You sacrifice nothing to become the mentor of a person with disabilities. In fact, I’ve been inspired in my role as Sam’s mentor. Part of this process has been to attend meetings with persons with developmental disabilities in Sacramento, California. On several occasions I’ve volunteered as a video cameraman, helping to shoot projects that Marcia edits. On one such occasion, I shot video for a project dealing with the fact that all people have human rights. While in Sacramento I had the good fortune to meet Rhianon Gutierrez, a student at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Video Arts in Orange, California, who decided to do a documentary of Sam’s life – “When I’m Not Alone” – as her senior thesis. The documentary has won many awards, including the Loreen Arbus Focus on Disability Scholarship from the College Television Awards, held by the Academy of TV Arts and Sciences Emmys Foundation. I’m proud to have a “Thank You” credit on this important documentary film.“When I’m Not Alone”
Sam’s story is gripping and it took a lot of courage to reveal it. Born female, Sam’s father raised Sam as a male for 28 years. During that time Sam suffered unspeakable abuse, escaping only after his father died, and drifting in and out of institutions. After finding Integrity House, in Orange County, he learned to read, write, and advocate for himself and others with disabilities. I am so proud to know Sam.
“When I’m Not Alone” will screen at the Newport Beach Film Festival on April 23rd. It will screen along with three other films, including fellow CTA Winner and Academy Award nominee for Best Live Action Short, “Kavi.Extra.”
“When I’m not Alone” has also been accepted to screen at the Society for Disabilities Studies Conference at Temple University in Philadelphia this June!
Three years ago, Marcia and I were invited guests at the Newport Beach Film Festival for the screening of “Camille,” directed by Gregory Mackenzie, produced by Mackenzie and Academy Award winning Producer Albert S. Ruddy, starring James Franco and Sienna Miller. I was Post Production Supervisor on this wonderful comedic heart-felt movie.