James Rath

blind with perspective.

What's Next? I'm Creating a TV Pilot

It's been sometime since I've updated the blog portion of this site. I'll do my best to keep you posted regularly these next several months. Along with a site redesign I'll be updating the videos section with updated material and genres of content. I also spoke at VidCon in June, I'll create a separate post about that experience later in the week. With all that out of the way, you may be wondering what I've been up to. Long story short, I'm creating my very own TV documentary pilot. 

How in the hell did this happen? You may be asking yourself.. or at least I'm asking myself that. You see just about every short film or narrative video I've created stems from a single word or concept (e.g Imagine, Parallel, Cure, etc.). I keep that word in my mind throughout the process of fleshing out that singular word. I was editing a side series of videos for my YouTube channel titled "Rath Weekends" where I took the camera around with me going about my daily life and tried to create a story out of it during playback. After a few episodes I wasn't real keen on the title "Rath Weekends" and was looking to reboot it with new branding.. but as I chose the new title, I realized that specific word had a lot more meaning to me personally. I didn't want to just throw that word away for a YouTube vlog series.

Over the course of May 2016 I kept thinking about this specific word and it eventually grew into a much larger vision. I wanted to really discover what this word was trying to tell me. As May came and went I was left with this idea for something much more than a YouTube video, short film, a feature film, but I had an idea for a recurring story I wanted to tell, but at the same time multiple stories within this story and it all started with a single word in my head. 

I saw that Microsoft and Skype were hosting a contest to hear innovative pitches that would be inclusive in the future of media. This idea I had a month ago was all of that. Without going into great detail yet, this concept would aim to portray people with disabilities, including myself, accurately in the media, yet still be an engaging, entertaining experience for both people with disabilities and abled-bodied viewers. 

The day after VidCon I had a single day to enter this contest hosted by Skype. I made a pitch video in less than an hour at a length of 52 seconds and just hoped for the best. After not hearing for a little while after the contest had closed I assumed I didn't win and moved on. I was still very dedicated to making this idea become a reality but would just seek out other potential opportunities that may come along. 

On the night of July 21st, 2016, an exact year since I permanently moved to LA to pursue filmmaking, I noticed I had received an email earlier that morning. I had completely glanced over it the entire day while reading and replying to emails.. (hashtag blind problems) It was an email from Microsoft saying that I had won and the pilot of this idea would be funded. I almost pulled an all nighter out of excitement and shock from what I read. It truly sunk in that only after a year of being in LA I'm being given this truly blessed opportunity to direct/star in my very own TV pilot. 

Skype has arranged industry meetings for me with the producer of HBO's Game of Thrones, Oliver Butler, rapper and actor, Ice-T, and social media influencer YesJulz. As of writing this I've only had one meeting thus far, not including ones I've had with Skype personally. The first meeting was with the Game of Thrones producer. It went extremely well, and Olly is an incredibly insightful man. It was flattering to hear how surprised he was when he found out right before the meeting that I was only 20 years of age, and how much confidence he has in not only the project but in myself. 

Thank you Skype and Microsoft for helping to take a single word that lingered in my brain one days a few months back, into something that will be truly new and original in this space. Please stay tuned to my YouTube Channel as I'll still be posting weekly videos as I begin this incredible journey of creating my very own pilot.  

Why I Identify as "Legally Blind"

I recently received this comment on my latest short film “How Apple Saved My Life” [cc] that I believed questioned why I identify as “legally blind” and claiming the video does a disservice to those in a similar situation. Here is the comment, following is my response. 

Commenter: “I have had nearly the exact same experience as you, word for word.

Enlarged textbooks / worksheets,  school administration not actually understanding or able to manage the problem, a multitude of obnoxious “assistive” apparatuses causing more issues than they solve, and finally, walking into an Apple store on a whim, being shown the zoom feature, and instantly needing a Mac.

The accessibility features in the Apple ecosystem are phenomenal and have (from what i can tell) ALWAYS surpassed what is available on Windows. ZoomText, ZoomIt QZoom, and the native magnifier are terrible and extremely resource intensive. In addition, the ability to map special keyboard or mouse buttons to various functions were often unreliable.

On iOS, being able  to change the minimum font size / enable large text is just a essential for me. Applications that do not respect these often go unused or are deleted. (I’m looking at you, Trillian!)

While i do support the overall message of your video (shining a spotlight on something infinitely undervalued) the way it is presented does a disservice to those in a similar situation.

With 20/2200 vision myself and having been engaged with state, federal, and private entities that deal with visually impaired people, I can say that the average person’s stigma towards those who are different has a very clear source. Within this community, there seems to be a constant need to draw attention to, discuss, and project the fact that you are aren’t like everyone else.

(I am speaking about an individual with normal emotional and intellectual capacities.)

Instead of someone (who has been a part of this system) introducing themselves like “Hi, I’m Tom!”, it is instead “Hi, I’m Tom! I have a disability. I am unable to //whatever// as well other people. But i can assure you, i am just as equal and valuable a member to society as everyone else. Please, ask me about how i am different, i will explain at length but in a way that makes me seem just like you. Then let me, the current self appointed official representative, point out what is wrong with society and how you yourself have contributed to our collective suffering as disabled persons.”

There if obviously no question with regard to if a blind or visually impaired person has things more difficult than a “normal” person. At the same time, when we come into this world, we’re given a set of cards. It’s up to you how you play them and to adapt to when things go sideways. Some have it easy, some have it interesting; such is life.

Continually pointing out that someone is different, even if it is meant in a positive or supportive way does not help them cope with their situation. It does the exact opposite. Often causing them become the personification of the difference. It becomes their identity. Who they are, their options, way of expressing themselves, and, in some cases, a crutch to use when things get hard. And why shouldn’t they do this? After all they’re disabled, this is acceptable, and the world is a mean unfair place anyway.

Just my 2¢. (Because: Internet YouTube Comment Machine)

Tl;DR = The stigma towards those with disabilities is not exclusively the creation of average, ignorant, mean people. It’s a fire equally fueled by the communities need to assign labels, “spread awareness”, and ensure everyone’s a winner.“

My response..

James Rath: “Thank you for your comment. I understand your perspective and where you’re coming from but from my stand point, as an artist, I personally identify with what makes me stand out, what makes my art the way it is. I identify as legally blind, because I am, and it is heavily influenced in my art, passions, and activism. I encourage people to identify however they see themselves and feel impacts their daily life.

If Tom wants to simply identify as Tom, I see nothing wrong with that, but if James wants to identify as a legally blind filmmaker, there should be nothing wrong with that either. In a social setting I will usually simply introduce myself as James, and when the time calls for it I’ll mention yes I have a visual impairment, if it’s appropriate to the situation. When it comes to a professional event however, yes I’ll usually introduce myself, then mentioning I’m legally blind and that more often than none, sparks a question or an interest in the receiving end of the conversation. It allows me an opportunity to educate the individual on what my abilities are, how I manage and overcome my limitations, and what it’s made me passionate about creating, and pursuing. It usually creates a good conversation and great lasting impression on the receiving end when I present myself with confidence, honesty, and wanting to clean the room of any ignorance.

Again, I believe it’s up to the individual with the disability to choose how they identify. This film is rightfully my identity, my story, my thanks to Apple, and my piece of art, no one else’s. Thanks again for your comment and watching!“

Why Apple's Accessibility? A followup to "How Apple Saved My Life"

This past weekend I dropped my new short film on my YouTube channel. It's a documentary styled tribute to a brand that has positively affected my life, that being Apple. I can still be critical of Apple as a company, brand, and product at times, but in my experience Apple has done more to impress, than to disappoint. Though the comments on my short film have been surprisingly all positive thus far, there were a few outsiders on my other social media accounts going on the offense and attacking Apple's over their biases just because they haven't shared the same experience as I've had. 

I wouldn't consider myself an Apple "fanboy" I use a lot of different products from different companies but in terms of core software, and operating systems, Apple supports my needs and offers the most comfortable user-interface for me. Just because I use the Zoom function of Mac OS X, doesn't mean the one on Windows is any worse, it just means I had a different experience with it and I prefer one over the other.

As other operating systems' support for accessibility have improved outside of the Apple ecosystem, I'm still open to the idea of learning Microsoft, or Google's newer endeavors in the realm of aiding those of us who have special needs. However, it was really the timing of when I started using Apple's products that made me grow more attached to them. I was 14-years-old and this was back when Windows had awful support in Vista for accessibility. Once I went Mac I wasn't interested in investing money into a PC. I also had an Android phone around this time. It was a flagship Samsung Galaxy S Fascinate on Verizon (1st generation Galaxy S) and though for the time it was a pretty phone with decent hardware, the software was another story. 

To sum it up quickly it was running Samsung's custom skin on top of Android and caused it to be very buggy. I'd have random crashes way too often, once I got completely locked out of my phone and had to replace the entire device, and I even had a bug that would randomly send images from my Photo Gallery to contacts on my phone... all completely at random. Someone I wouldn't even be in a current conversation with could've randomly received a photo of my dog, or my ski trip, while I was asleep with my phone 'locked'. It was insane, and quite dangerous if I had anything private on my device. I use my phone to scan documents that I need to enlarge in order to see.. imagine if I had credit card information on there and it randomly sent that photo to a random contact (Bob from my first high school who I haven't spoken to since that one detention in 8th grade) who was added to my phone through the Facebook app. That's scary, and to this day I don't think an update was ever pushed out to my phone to fix that.

Needless to say, I hope Android is much more stable these days and Samsung is doing a better job at addressing bugs in their phone's OS. But there is a reason why I've switched to Apple's more secure closed operating systems, convenience, support, creativity, and accessibility. I support Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc. however I just happen to give more credit to one specifically because it's had a larger impact on my life in more areas than the others. 

Click here to watch "How Apple Saved My Life".

Rebranding

It's been a little while since this site had been updated. I previously branded my most cherished content under "Blue Eyeris Media" but that is changing. What was once BlueEyeris.com is the new Rath.LA (or JamesRath.LA) portifolio/blog. This is now a home for my work, updates, and to get in contact with me. Blue Eyeris Media is fading away in the meantime, it will become a future project when the time is right. I'm now more than ever focused on myself, my content, and the stories I want to share. The format of my content has drastically shifted in the last 2 years that it's time to acknowledge and evolve with my content. I've become more passionate towards topics such as disabilities, accessibility, and mental health. Though I'll continue making scripted short films, many of them may involve around topics such as disabilities and mental health. I have a lot of projects planned this year. I'm currently in the process of getting such projects funded so they may happen a little later than I had originally anticipated but I will continue to create weekly content in the meantime on the topics mentioned above. 

It's 2016, I don't believe this is the year where my whole life will change or I'll finally be comfortable with where I'm at but I strongly believe this is the year that will elevate me and my work. 

-James Rath 

A Steady Direction

As a content creator, my thoughts tend to juggle on the sort of content I want to create. I've recently had a much more steady track record of doing more cinematic narratives, short films, documentaries, amongst other genres. I feel as if previously I wasn't reaching a quality standard I set for myself when making videos. As of April 2014, I feel confident in the videos I've produced besides a few vlogs, and generic challenge/tag videos. When I moved to California in the Summer of 2014, I had limited resources and planned out content which led me to making unconventional sorts of videos on my YouTube channel. Blue Eyeris Media is not only a reminder, but a consistent project that would limit me from producing regrettable content.

Blue Eyeris Media is about creating something different that would capture the viewer's attention, whether it be the impact of the message, development of characters, or unique cinematography. Blue Eyeris is going to act as a home for stories worth telling and people worth remembering. As this project develops, you may meet new faces that could become regulars. I hope to expand this project into something I can focus on full-time. 

For the past 10 months, I've been working a part time job living back at home in Pennsylvania with my family. On the contrary, I'm moving back to Southern California permanently to pursue filmmaking and new media this Summer. Being able to have access to 24/7 transportation through buses, subways, trains, and my personal favorite, Uber, I'll be able to better scout locations, shoot, and collaborate with new partners. A lot is in store for myself and this project and I hope you stick around and be a part of the innovative content to come.

-James