Note: You can row also read an interview with one of the documentary subjects, Jack Chen.
On January 27, shortly after the Welcome Reception with new LightHouse CEO Sharon Giovinazzo, LightHouse will be hosting a free private movie screening of the documentary Surpassing Sight which follows two blind men, Jack Chen and Dan Berlin, who completed the Race Across America, a road cycling race across the United States. There will be a Q&A with Jack and film writer and producer Lukas Behnken.
Before it’s time to watch the film with LightHouse and Bay Area community members, we wanted you to learn more about the people behind the film. First up is an interview with aforementioned producer Lukas. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.
How did you get involved with writing and producing the film?
“Dan and Jack had already completed the race and their mission to raise awareness about the unemployment rate of the blind. While they had hired a film crew to track their process of training for and completing the race, they weren’t able to produce a film with the crew they had. A producing partner of mine named Mark Burg heard that Dan was looking for a documentary filmmaker and recommended me. When Dan and I first talked, it was about how to put together the footage. After a few calls, my production company Sterling Light Productions, created a trailer and pitch deck to help them raise money. After they raised money to make a documentary, they asked me to make it for them.”
Can you talk about the filmmaking process?
“As producer, I put together everything from the concept to the distribution, delivery, and the social campaign. I worked closely with the director/editor of the film to write and structure the story to tell first with the footage we already had. I also decided we should talk to everyone who had been involved with this racing team made up of four blind people and four sighted people. This included the people who traveled with them including film crew, RV drivers, bike mechanics etc.
“So I sent a director, cameraman & crew to do 24 interviews across the U.S. For the next eighteen months we edited the movie together, cut after cut and we really involved Jack and Dan since it was their vision. As a Producer, I’m always trying to produce your vision into reality. Jack and Dan were Executive Producers of the film.”
What did you learn about blindness from talking to Jack and Dan personally?
“I was intrigued to grasp how Jack and Dan navigated through life without sight and how sight is not necessary. Being blind is not limiting. It can only be considered a disability when talking about it in relation to a sighted world. What others may consider as a hindrance or a limit is not a limit.”
What would you like people to get out of watching the film?
“Race Across America is this incredible venture race. This is the story of a team doing such a thing and additionally a team that’s using tandem bikes. People may assume that someone who could not see couldn’t do something like this and we wanted to show they can.
“We also highlight the fact the four blind people on this racing team all have high level jobs. If we can get employers to see that those who are blind and visually impaired can work at high levels, then the message and purpose of the film has worked.”
What: Surpassing Sight Private Film Screening with Audio Description and Q&A
When: Friday, January 27 from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
Where: LightHouse San Francisco, 1155 Market St. 10th Floor
RSVP: Get free tickets for Surpassing Sight at LightHouse San Francisco.
Directions to LightHouse San Francisco
Watch a trailer of Surpassing Sight with audio description.
Visit the Surpassing Sight website.