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Kavery Kaul Interview: Back Walking Forward - May 25, 2011

New Distribution and Outreach for Documentaries

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Kavery Kaul Interview: Back Walking Forward - May 25, 2011

Eric helps Susan shop in 'Back Walking Forward'

Kavery Kaul/Riverfilms
MERIN: These days, documentaries are looking at alternative means of distribution, and also at cross-platforms transcending traditional viewing venues. I'm thinking of social media. And using games as a platform. Are you investigating these for Back Walking Forward. There's great opportunity here for people to learn about disability, perhaps even to engage their own minds in what it might be like to be disabled. Are you using alternative distribution and parallel platforms to further the film's impact?

KAUL: This is the moment to mention the other person from the Back Walking Forward team who's here with us. Joy Pereths, the consulting producer who heads the outreach and with whom I explore all these possibilities.

Yes, as independent filmmakers at this moment in history, we're exploring everything and using all sorts of ways of reaching our audience. It's a moment of great turmoil and chaos in the film and television industry, but it's also a moment of great opportunity. The Internet has opened up immense possibilities for the independent filmmaker. I have great appreciation for distributors, but it's wonderful not to have to go to those who might say, "Who's going to see THIS film???". Because many people are going to see this, and we can reach our audiences through the Internet. We have a Web site, we're on facebook, we're on Twitter. So please join the conversation. It's wonderful to hear from everyone else through social media. And the website is a great way of staying in touch with us. Grab a postcard. It has our website address on it. We'll be exploring all platforms. Right now, a priority is to male sure we're reaching many different kinds of audiences. That's what the documentary was intended to do. I also have a lot of respect for traditional independent film funders, and am appreciative of my relationship with them, but it is a pleasure to tell you, that even if you didn't want this film, the film is done and the audiences are out there. … exactly what I wrote in those proposals that you looked aghast at. We're reaching the brain-injured population and their families. Their needs are to feel not isolated, to feel there are other people like them, to get the information they need to move forward with their own family's brain injury issues. We're reaching all those people. We have a screening coming up with the Brain Injury Association of New York State later this month and one with Brain Injury Association of Canada after that.

We also want to reach the medical and scientific professions. For them, it's a rare opportunity to see what happens between doctors' visits. We want to reach the professional caregivers as well as the families who've become caregivers. And all sorts of associations and organizations across the country have been contacting us.

We'd like to get it on television. We want to reach the general public as well. Because we're all so misinformed about brain injury, it's the major cause of disability worldwide. Today, there are almost 5.5 million Americans with brain injury and the number keeps rising. It can happen to civilians; it can happen to soldiers. It can happen at home, it can happen on the road, it can happen on the athletic fields. It can happen due to an accident; it can happen due to premeditated assault. It can happen to any of us at any time. And one of the major challenges for all of us is to recognize the prevalence of brain injury, and to find ways of re-integrating the brain injured into the community. My films have often been about outsiders, people who are looking for a sense of belonging .In this film, I was working with a family who had always belonged to their community, and suddenly brain injury made them different. So it's a question we all have to ask ourselves. In the 21st century, can we really afford to let belonging hinge on sameness? Can we accept differences? Through the Internet, we reach the world, we reach unexpected audiences, in unexpected places throughout the world. We can reach audiences now not only in New York City, but in rural areas. And we're reaching international audiences. So yes, we're going to pursue many avenues, many platforms, many audiences. The purpose of the film was to put a human face on brain injury and I think that way, we can have an impact.

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