Mark Zupan, the quadriplegic star of our film who is the captain of
the U.S. Quad rugby team, joked when we met him that he loved his “ass-level
view” of the world.
We tried it, and we agreed. The ass-level view became part of our daily
worldview. Whenever possible we shot the film while sitting in a wheelchair
or from wheelchair height. We used spare wheelchairs the way other films
use dollies, pushing and rolling our way all over the world—USA,
Canada, Sweden, Greece—through bars, high school reunions, strip
clubs, bathrooms and Olympic events.
While shooting from two wheels we learned firsthand the obstacles one
faces in a world of paralysis and that our ‘muscular’ upper
bodies aren’t as developed as we initially thought:
Overgrown tree roots
Confused bus drivers
The only drawback to spending months in a wheelchair was the passersby
who kept stopping us to ask how we’d injured ourselves. Coming
up with a quick lie came more naturally than you’d imagine.
Once inaugurated into the world of Quad Rugby, co-director Dana Adam
Shapiro and I were forced to reevaluate our own body parts. It made
us really appreciate every inch of our able bodies. No two quads are
the same, and they’re always talking about how much “function”
they have. Dana was always ranking our body parts in terms of our individual
bodily preference. Sometimes we’d rank our various limbs and ligaments
from 1 to 10.
What would you rather have?:
Hands or feet?
Biceps or triceps?
A thumb or four fingers?
We learned of a rivalry between quadriplegics and paraplegics. Team
USA player Scott Hogsett summed it up in the Phoenix New Times.
“Paras think they have it so good because they have full use of
their hands,” he said. “They hate us quads because we can
get boners and they can’t. Frankly, I’d take a boner over
hands any day.” No arguments there.