In the fall of 2017, Disability Rights Wisconsin asked me to emcee their 40th anniversary gala. The group formed as part of the first concerted government-backed effort to bring people with disabilities off the margins and into the mainstream of U.S. society. As I learned about the organization and the how their efforts were still a struggle for equity and inclusion after four decades, I realized there was the perfect opportunity for a documentary. As I researched and met people with disabilities, a couple of things struck me: how much the system worked against the people it’s supposed to help and the fact that any one of us could suddenly become a person with a disability and be forced to navigate a world that was not designed with them in mind. I decided the best way to tell their stories was to give them a voice. And so, INterDEPENDENCE was born as one of my first projects at JDog Productions.
Passion Project for Disability Rights
It takes a lot to bring an hour-long film from concept to a final production, but none of it could have happened without the help and dedication from a small group of professionals who gave of their time and expertise with no promise of payment. They made it their passion project, as it was mine, accepting the compensation of a finished documentary that aims to promotes better understanding of crucial issues and a marginalized group in our society. Jason Weiss (Jason Weiss Video) agreed immediately to be the videographer. Together, we traveled to Eau Claire, La Crosse and all around the Madison area to shoot interviews and follow our subjects to record their lives. Bob Timm (Opix Media) signed-on in the summer of 2019 to edit the program. His ability to bring together a lot of different interviews and footage was matched only by his time commitment on this big project. My son, Sam Jeschke, shot some of that footage and was the editor of the documentary’s trailer; again, services free of charge. And once we had it all “in the can”, Ron Giordan (SynRG Marketing) stepped-up to lead the marketing and publicity of the program’s release on April 30, 2020.
Giving a Voice to the Voiceless
Ordinarily, I would have had a public premier showing at a theatre and shopped around to find a television venue. But, COVID-19 forced me to change those plans and instead take advantage of a nearly-captive audience watching lots of stuff online at home. So, that’s where we launched: on the website you’ve come to now. Although there’s great potential for many more viewers this way, it does leave a void for revenue. As a way to help defray production costs (I want to pay my aforementioned crew, regardless of their willingness to do it for free) I’ve set up a Go Fund Me page (click here). If you appreciate the work done on INterDEPENDENCE I hope you’ll give. It will also go a long way toward making similar documentaries possible in the future. I believe giving a voice to people like those with disabilities promotes a better understanding of crucial issues and marginalized groups in our society. And I think that improved understanding will help us create a more equitable and inclusive world for all of us.