In 1983, after decades of steady deterioration, writer and theologian John Hull became totally blind. To help make sense of the upheaval in his life, he began keeping an audio diary of his experiences as he adjusted to his new reality. Hull believed that if he didn’t try to understand blindness, it would destroy him, and as a result, produced an intimate story of loss and rebirth.
Pete Middleton and James Spinney’s new documentary “Notes on Blindness” adapts Hull’s experiences into the documentary film. Following their Emmy Award-winning short film by the same name, the feature-length film uses Hull’s original audio recordings coupled with professional actors lip-synching the voices of the family to best document Hull’s journey into a “world beyond sight.” Watch an exclusive behind-the-scenes clip from the film below featuring Middleton and Spinney discussing what it was like to direct the film together.
The film premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Alongside the feature, Middleton and Spinney also unveiled “Notes On Blindness: Into Darkness,” an immersive virtual reality project based on John’s sensory and psychological experience of blindness. The interactive experience complements the feature film with each scene addressing a memory, a moment and a specific location from John’s audio diary. It uses binaural audio and real time 3D animations to create a fully immersive experience. The project won the Storyscapes Award at Tribeca Film Festival and the Alternate Realities VR Award at Sheffield Doc/Fest. It is now available for free on Samsung Gear; Mobile or Cardboard: iOS and Android.
“Notes on Blindness” is currently playing at the Film Forum in New York City. It opens in Los Angeles today, November 25, courtesy of BOND360.