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  • Writer's pictureWoody Harrison

Story Behind The Story: Austin Lighthouse for the Blind

"Holy cow, I had no idea!"

This was my first thought when Jim Meehan gave me a tour of the Travis Association for the Blind, aka, Austin Lighthouse for the Blind.

Visually, it was impressive. 350,000 sq feet of warehouse space, wearable electronics, RFID scanners, industrial machines and brand new office space. Almost all of it staffed by people who are totally or legally blind.

But there are a few things that really made this shoot special.

The first was Parkinson's Law. Basically, it states that a project will take as long to complete as the time it's given. Give a project 2 weeks, it'll take 2 weeks to complete. Give it 7 days, it'll take 7 days, and so on.

Generally, shoots like this would take a few weeks to do, just because of scheduling. We had 6 calendar days from beginning to end to get it done.

The pre-interviews can be a very time intensive part of the process. We need to sit down for 20-30 minutes with every person that we're considering for the film. This could be 3-20 people! Talk to them, get their story, see how well they fit into the big story we're trying to tell.

Getting people together for this can be tough, because they all have jobs to do and lives to live! Jim and the Lighthouse staff made our jobs really easy on this one. They were like clockwork.

We narrowed it down to 3 people (only 2 made the final cut) who had incredible stories. Each one of them should be their own film.

The filming went soooo smoothly, mostly because me and my co producer Andy Brooksbank At Red Jarrah Productions, came up with a solid shooting plan. We knew what we needed to get and didn't waste time on anything else. We set up all the interviews in one room and just cycled our people through.

Unfortunately, there's a really great story we couldn't tell. It was about Joe and his family's military legacy and how he can carry on that legacy by working at the Lighthouse, even though he couldn't actively serve. It pretty brought me and Andy to tears to hear him tell it.

I hope you enjoyed the film, and I hope that now, you have a new awareness of the blind community in Austin.


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