Becoming Bulletproof

Director: Michael Barnett
Year: 2014
Running Time: 80 minutes

Becoming Bulletproof is the story of a group of people with disabilities from across America who together take part in an ambitious indie film production. Bulletproof is a Western, complete with authentic wardrobe, saloon brawls, showdowns at the poker table, and evil villains. It’s the fruit of ideals that two brothers and their wives put into action through an inclusive film project they run in Hollywood every year. For them Bulletproof isn’t about actors’ limitations, “It’s all about making an awesome movie, not a statement.” A.J. Murray, 32, from Atlanta, has cerebral palsy and plays the town’s mayor. Jeremy Vest, 28, born with Williams Syndrome, plays the film’s hero, Bulletproof Jackson. Zach Gottsagen, 29, who has Down syndrome, plays the evil Grim. Judy Moscariello, 53, who also has cerebral palsy, plays a woman shattered by her lover’s murder. Weaving between 1890s period drama and present-day action, Bulletproof’s snaking plot requires mastering lines, pushing through take after take, and showing up on time in costume. As the actors grapple with these high expectations, we see the pay off: a can-do community spirit, the genesis of a riveting film, and a personally and socially transformative experience. We learn lessons about reaching our fullest potential through artistic endeavor and hear direct from actors about overcoming their exclusion and marginalization. In this way disability becomes “our” story, of who we are or may become, rather than the story of someone else. Inside the often-comical filmmaking process we witness vibrant human bonds and powerful insights. As A.J. himself says: “I do not want pity because I have a disability, I just want to be understood. I want disability to have a seat at the table in pop culture.”

Beloit Film Festival – Best Documentary
Heartland Film Festival – Audience Choice
Vail Film Festival – Best Documentary
Hollywood Film Festival – Cinecause Winner Best Documentary
New Hampshire Film Festival – Grand Jury Winner Best Documentary

Becoming Bulletproof
Becoming Bulletproof
Becoming Bulletproof