CRUTCH chronicles the life of Bill Shannon, an internationally renowned artist, break dancer and skate punk, who wields his crutches as tools of expression and weapons of provocation.
A decade of exclusive access, plus a lifetime of archival footage, depict Shannon from his early years as a disabled child who refused to sit idle and watch able-bodied kids play, to his rise as an award-winning dancer and cutting-edge performance artist whose work finds outlet at prestigious venues worldwide, including Cirque du Soleil, the Sydney Opera House, the Tate Modern, and the Chicago MOCA.
CRUTCH examines Shannon’s controversial street performances as he exposes the hidden world of prejudices encountered by disabled people on a daily basis. It questions his methods as he exploits strangers’ good Samaritan impulses to make his point—and his art, yet marvels at his ability to offer solutions and empowerment to those facing similar challenges. The film explores how a degenerative condition and chronic physical pain have fueled both the beauty of his movements and his in-your-face attitude.
From childhood "cripple" to international provocateur, CRUTCH is an emotional journey of an artist’s struggle to be understood.
SACHI CUNNINGHAM, Co-Director, Executive Producer
Sachi Cunningham is a filmmaker, photographer and Assistant Professor of Multimedia Journalism at San Francisco State University. Her award winning stories have screened at festivals worldwide, and on outlets including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, PBS FRONTLINE, FRONTLINE/World and the Discovery Channel. The Emmys, Webbys, and Pictures of the Year International have honored Cunningham’s work. A graduate of UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism and Brown University, Cunningham’s documentaries focus on international conflict, the arts, disability, and the ocean environment. On land she has turned her lens everywhere from the first presidential election in Afghanistan, to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In the water, she has swum with her camera along side everything from 350-pound blue fin tuna to big wave surfers, to Olympian, Michael Phelps. Once an assistant to actress Demi Moore and Director/Producer/Writer Barry Levinson, Cunningham brings a decade of experience in feature films and commercial productions in New York, Hollywood and Tokyo to her career in journalism and filmmaking.
CHANDLER EVANS, Co-Director, Executive Producer
Chandler Evans is a writer/director, whose award winning videos have garnered over 50 million views online. Evans has written for shows on CBS and the CW. His work in advertising includes writing and directing commercial spots for companies such as Procter & Gamble, Disney, KB Homes, and Singapore Airlines. He wrote VISIONS OF EVEREST, a feature documentary about Erik Weihenmayer, the only blind man to summit Mount Everest. Evans wrote and directed a groundbreaking, participatory web series for Disney Studios and, most recently, was Buzzfeed.com’s top video producer/director. Evans has an MFA in screenwriting from UCLA.
STEPHEN NEMETH, Producer
Stephen Nemeth formed and leads Rhino Films, the independent film company that originated as a division of iconoclastic record label Rhino Records. He has produced and executive produced dozens of films. His producer credits include THE SESSIONS (Sundance 2012 Audience Award, 2013 Academy Award nomination for Helen Hunt), C.O.G., the first David Sedaris adaptation (Sundance 2013), FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS, WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE, and RADIO FREE ALBEMUTH, the last Philip K. Dick novel. He is in post-production on the Bill “Spaceman” Lee biopic THE WRONG STUFF and in pre-production on the New York Times bestselling book CONFESSIONS OF AN ECONOMIC HIT MAN. Nemeth's documentary credits include DOGTOWN AND Z BOYS (Sundance 2001 Audience Award), WAR/DANCE (2008 Academy Award nomination), FUEL (Sundance 2008 Audience Award), PUMP, FLOW (Sundance 2008), PICK UP THE MIC (Toronto 2005), CLIMATE REFUGEES (Sundance 2010), ROBERT WILLIAMS’ MR. BITCHIN’, RIDE WITH LARRY, UNDER THE BOARDWALK: THE MONOPOLY STORY, and PATRIOCRACY. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and on the board of numerous non-profit organizations including Friends of the Earth, Children Uniting Nations, and the International Documentary Association and is on the dean's board of the UC Santa Cruz's School for the Arts.
MITCHELL PECK, Producer
Producer Mitchell Peck is most recently the producer of CROOKED ARROWS (20th Century Fox), a $15 million family film released domestically nationwide in 2012; after a successful theatrical run, Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions purchased the movie for international distribution in 2013. In 2011, Peck produced PRIEST (Sony Pictures), a $70 million vampire movie that launched the studio's summer release schedule. Throughout his 20 years in the business, Peck has sold more than a dozen movies and television shows to Hollywood’s major studios, including MGM, Disney, Columbia, 20th Century Fox, Sony, MTV, Screen Gems and New Line, while working with A-list actors, directors, screenwriters and producers. Peck graduated from Columbia University and attended USC Graduate Film School.
EARL COLE, Co-Producer
Earl Cole has a diverse background working in entertainment, branding and the arts. He currently works with partnerships at GOOD Worldwide Inc, a social impact media agency. He previously worked at Disney, Sony Pictures and Fox, from film development to product marketing. He is also an accomplished musician and composer and is a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). In addition to his artistic endeavors, he has worked in the fields of advertising and technology, working with brands such as Honda, Microsoft, NBCUniversal and T-Mobile. In 2007, Cole was cast to participate on the CBS TV show, Survivor, and was voted as the show's first unanimous winner. A determined philanthropist, he donates his time to several charities and non-profit organizations. He is the Founder and President of the Perthes Kids Foundation, 501(3)(c), which raises global awareness for children and families dealing with Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease, a degenerative hip bone disorder that makes it painful to walk, that Cole himself suffered from as a child, and also serves as a catalyst to this film.
We've been working hard for over a decade to tell this story. We've followed Bill all around the world and happily pulled production funds from our own pockets to record over 500 hours of beautiful raw footage.
But in order to complete this movie, and do it right, we need to invest in a proper post production process... and we need your help to make it happen.