Film tells story of Brian's Run




By Jessica McRorie, Staff Writer June 10, 2002





Staff photo by Bethany Stiltner
David Block, legally blind filmmaker of a documentary on Brian's Run, stands in the foyer of his apartment holding a videotape of the film and the credit cards he used to pay for production of the film.

David Block, a legally blind filmmaker, had a vision.He transformed that vision into a reality with his 15-minute documentary, titled "Brian's Run."
The film, the third for Block, is about Brian Bratcher, a football player at B. Reed Henderson High School who was paralyzed after he suffered a life-threatening spinal cord injury in a 1978 scrimmage.

After his injury, the community sponsored a race to help with his medical bills. More than 2,500 people showed up raising more than $20,000.The race became a 24-year tradition and has attracted runners from all over the world.

The film documents "how this unfortunate incident caused this race to happen," said Block.

Block, who has been visually impaired since birth, said that when he is making a documentary it becomes a part of him.

It is like having a child, he said.

"I don't know what it is like to give birth but it feels like it," he said.

Block, who lives in Bala Cynwyd, shot footage for the film three times in West Chester, including the race, which is held in December, he said.

A few of the interviews include Bratcher, his parents, and Mike Hancock, his coach from high school.

Block said he heard about Bratcher's story through word of mouth and wrote about him for "Runner's World" magazine.

Since writing about Bratcher, Block felt inspired to make the story into a documentary because he believed it would have more impact, he said.

Being legally blind is not the hardest part of making a documentary, he said.The hard part is that you "have to get people who believe in your project to work with you," he said.

And it is important to get those people to either volunteer their time or work at a reduced rate, he said.

"Brian's Run" cost about $30,000 to make and has left Block in debt, as have his other films.

He works as a telemarketer and freelance journalist to pay the bills but said that he is so in debt that "it's not even funny."

Block himself is a runner and participates in the New York Marathon almost every year, he said.

However, he said, he is in terrible shape and joked that "a turtle with a broken leg could beat me."

In high school he ran cross-county and was asked by his coach to sign a waiver that released the school from any responsibility should he get hurt, he said.

Ironically, he was the only person on the team who did not get injured that year, he said.

His first film, "Goalball: A Sport for Good Listeners," focused on blind and partially blind athletes playing the sport Goalball, which is played with a ball with bells inside.

That film was produced through Scribe Video, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit organization.

His other film was "Portraits of Possibility," which challenges negative attitudes toward blind and visually impaired people.

Block made "Brian's Run" through Scribe Video, which, he said, saved him a lot of time and reduced the costs of making the film.

"They enable people like me to make films at a reasonable cost," he said.

Block said he once said that he would never make a third documentary, but he is already working on a fourth.

"Outside the Trenches: Vets' Journey Home" is about returning U.S. veterans who had problems readjusting yet were able to help other veterans who were worse off.

©Daily Local News 2002