With the holiday season upon us and the spirit of giving in the air, SVA Close Up saw it fitting to highlight the inspiring new documentary Tin Soldiers, which is currently seeking funding on Indiegogo. Directed and co-produced by Ben Duffy and co-produced by cinematographer Michael Sassano (BFA 2011 Film and Video), the film offers a fascinating look into the world of amputees, people with spina bifida, and paralysis, who are all doing adaptive sports. SVA Close Up recently caught up with Sassano to find out more about the project.
Why did you decide to make this documentary?
Tin Soldiers purpose is to increase the awareness and the benefits of adaptive sports. Serving this goal has always been our mission from the beginning. Originally, the idea for this documentary actually found us. Our director, Ben Duffy, was contacted by a few people in the adaptive sports world, heading up non-profits. They had seen our previous film, Heartchild, and wanted to pick Ben’s brain about doing something in the adaptive community. After some game planning, Ben brought me on and we started shooting in the summer of 2014.
What was the most fun? The most surprising?
The most fun for me always comes with shooting. Being in an unknown place, filming something you aren’t controlling, and capturing genuine moments are the things that I love about filmmaking. When Ben and I collaborate on these films we really submerge ourselves into them. We live with our subjects, crash on their couches, eat with them, skate with them, and develop a pretty deep connection. After meeting some of these athletes my biggest surprise was seeing how humble and down to earth they were.
What was the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge of this film is funding, as with most independent films. We’re still facing this challenge and the reason it’s so difficult to bear is because as a filmmaker, you want to share your gold. Getting this film in the public eye and being able to market and advertise it properly is so important to us, because we want it to help people.
Why do people need to see this film?
I can proudly say, there is no other film out there like Tin Soldiers, and I think this film can hit you from so many different angles. It’s incredibly eye opening for someone who has never witnessed adaptive sports. Seeing some of this stuff first hand has helped me to never underestimate anyone’s potential. On the contrary, for people who may be living with amputation, paralysis, spina bifida, or cerebral palsy, it’s an incredible motivator, and could lead to someone picking up an adaptive sport. This film can inspire these people to make the change in their life through the power of commitment and sport. To feel better physically and mentally is a key to feeling better emotionally, which begins to resolve the hardest challenge people with these conditions face—overcoming depression. These stories of adapting are incredibly powerful, and I think this film can inspire those affected by these conditions and able-bodied people alike.
For more information about Tin Soldiers and to support the film, click here.
Photo from left to right: Ben Duffy, adaptive athlete Abel Rose and Michael Sassano.