FVI students ‘Defy Odds’ with documentary

Six students film the lives of those with spinal cord injuries

By on February 20, 2013
From left: Lorenzo DeCampos, Ariel Mandal, Kristen Fajt, Taylor Montemarano, Gus Robinson and Dayna Schutz.

When most Quinnipiac students went home for winter break, they relaxed and soaked up the uneventfulness that filled their day. But for six film, video, and interactive media (FVI) students, their time off was spent filming and editing a documentary for a life-changing cause.

Seniors Kristen Fajt, Taylor Montemarano, Gus Robinson, Ariel Mandell, and Dayna Schutz, and junior Lorenzo DeCampos traveled to Orlando, Fla. to record their experiences with Project Walk, an organization that seeks new paths to recovery for patients with spinal cord injuries. The group began pre-production for its documentary entitled, “Defying The Odds,” in October 2012.

Photo courtesy of Kristen Fajt

From left: Lorenzo DeCampos, Ariel Mandal, Kristen Fajt, Taylor Montemarano, Gus Robinson and Dayna Schutz.

The idea for the documentary was inspired by Barney Miller, a friend of Montemarano’s, who became a quadriplegic after a car accident. He was told he would never walk or breathe without assistance again. However, after discovering the organization Project Walk in 2009, his life was changed forever, Montemarano said.

“To say that this was a learning experience would be an understatement. Everyday they opened our eyes to something new,” Fajt said.

The group spent months in pre-production, coordinating with the director of Project Walk and contacting different clients willing to participate in the documentary. After its original plan to visit the Project Walk facility in San Diego fell through, the group set its sights on Orlando, and over winter break, it set out for a two-week adventure.

Photo courtesy of Kristen Fajt

Dan Pratt, a trainer at the Project Walk facility in Orlando, Fla., prepares to be interviewed.

The Orlando facility is “an environment filled with support, hope and motivation to provide those living with a spinal cord injury the opportunity to achieve their greatest recovery potential and an overall increased quality of life,” Fajt said.

They followed four different clients — Amanda, Aaron, Robert, and Cara — whose optimism and determination set an inspirational tone for the film, as well as for the students creating it.

Montemarano discussed the controversial side of Project Walk, and said many of the theories it bases its practice on have very little scientific backing, but despite that, the program seems to be working for the clients.

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