The Cotting blog sat down Luke Terrell, our artist-in-residence, to hear about his experience documenting folks with disabilities through film, and his time at Cotting. Enjoy!
How did you get into documentary work with folks with disabilities?
My first intro to the world of disabilities was in high school, through my work at a camp for adults with Muscular Dystrophy. But then in college, I saw a post about a student needing a notetaker, and that student was Gabe (who had Muscular Dystrophy). We became close friends. Filmmaking had always been a hobby though, even since childhood. Gabe knew that, and when he got news of a change in his diagnosis, he asked me to take some home videos of moments that he thought he’d never have. Those early videos are what ultimately blossomed into a full documentary about his life.
What is your philosophy when it comes to portraying people with disability on film?
There is an understanding in disability films that exposure combats ignorance. The more content that is out there, the more that the general public can learn about the reality of an individual in the disability community. But there is a fine line. For my work at Cotting, I simply want to show the students at school, doing what they do. I’m not looking to exaggerate or dramatize anything…that would be an injustice to their abilities.
What has been your favorite part of being at Cotting this summer?
The best part of this summer has been establishing relationships with students and teachers, and finding out what they’re passionate about it. I didn’t know exactly what it would be like, but it has exceeded my expectations.
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