Filmmaker Scott E. Schimmel discusses his documentary, Driven Blind, and the powerful story of Dan Parker, a blind drag racer who finds new ways to keep his racing dreams in sight. The film airs on World Channel, Sunday, April 15, at 9:30 PM ET, and on both UNC-TV and SCETV, Monday, May 7 at 9:30 PM.
What inspired you to make this film?
I was inspired to tell Dan's story because I saw him as an inspiration, not just because of how he copes with his disability, but because of his positive outlook on life.
What makes this a southern story?
Dan is a southerner through and through. He grew in Alabama in the outskirts of Columbus, Ga. where most of the film was shot. This is where he gained his laid back outlook which is routed in southern humility, his love of working with his hands, and his strong DIY ethic, which reflects the deeper culture of the working class south. He loves cars, goes to church on Sunday, and his favorite restaurant serves all you can eat catfish and hushpuppies.
What were the challenges and blessings in making this movie?
Having the opportunity to share Dan's story and getting to know him in the process was a great blessing. The biggest challenge in making this movie was deciding when to stop filming. Tell you the truth, I still would be if I had not taken a job in Hawaii. Dan's story is not over, and he has some exciting goals on the horizon... maybe there will be a Part 2!
How did the story change you?
Every story I tell gives me a deeper understanding of myself. In the case of Driven Blind, the process of discovering Dan's story helped me to reflect on how I was approaching the world and learn to have a positive attitude about life, and to turn my struggles into opportunities.
What do you hope will happen after people see this story?
After viewing the film I hope that people will look Dan up to learn about, and support, his new goals. They can do so by visiting his Facebook page.