Google+ Google+
Home » Podcast Episodes » Blind Courage The Movie | 055

Blind Courage The Movie | 055

by Tommy G. Kendrick

Listen To This Episode Here (00:46:40)
Join: Actors Talk Email List
Come Inside The Acting Business
Powered by the Simple Podcast Press Player

BLIND COURAGE – Never Lose Faith – Never Give Up

Bill inspired me to look at my life and to just keep going — whether it’s on the script, my career, my family — to just keep going and have a good attitude.

Below you’ll find some of my thoughts on this project and about my interview with BLIND COURAGE producer Paula O’Neal and director Clint Ross. But before I go too far into the show notes, I want to make sure you are aware of the Indiegogo campaign currently underway for this project.

Blind Courage The Movie

Below is a BLIND COURAGE concept trailer that was shot on location on the Appalachian Trail.

In this video, the role of Bill Irwin is played by, Bill Oberst outstanding actor who has well over 100 IMDb credits and is a strong force in one of my personal favorite films of the past several years, THE RETRIEVAL. His guide dog, Orient is played by DANTE from the Seeing Eye organization.

This is one of the best concept trailers I’ve seen for a crowd funding campaign. I can get a feel for what it will be like shooting this movie in this very environment.

Blind Courage Paula O'Neal Debra IrwinTo the left are producer Paula O’Neal and Debra Irwin on location in the Appalachian Trail for the concept trailer shoot.

In case you missed the link above, CLICK HERE to become an active supporter of BLIND COURAGE. The goal of $300,000 is ambitious but obtainable. This is one project I have no problem asking you to support.

Director, Clint Ross went from latchkey kid whose academic work in high school prevented him from getting into college to a self-starter with an advanced degree in filmmaking. Paula O’Neal went from a fourteen year old with an interest in photography to a filmmaking degree and to work with Hollywood film companies.

Both Paula and Clint have both cut their creative teeth on numerous short film projects as writer director and/or producer.

These two individual stories of courage and inspiration are examples of what it is to follow your passion, your calling. Pair the two of them with the extraordinary story of Bill Irwin and you have the potential for a film that will be exciting, entertaining and inspiring to a very broad audience. What you have is BLIND COURAGE the movie.

I have to admit that somehow the Bill Irwin story had, until recently, escaped my consciousness. That’s a shame because I would have loved to hear him tell this story in person. He was, I am told, an incredible motivational speaker. After learning about his story that is easy to believe.

Some months ago I began to see Facebook posts from producer Paula O’Neal about this project she was working on – BLIND COURAGE.


In 1990 Bill Irwin and his dog Orient thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. That’s a 2100 mile trek that took either eight or nine months. In researching this story, I’ve read or heard both figures. Either way, it’s a LONG walk in the wilderness.

That in itself would make a fascinating story. Add in the fact that Bill Irwin was totally blind and Orient was his guide dog and you have a story that is almost unbelievable. It is a story of perseverance and determination and faith that has ‘movie’ written all over it.

blind courage

The fact that it is a true story only adds to the fascination, the appeal. Tell me this film is playing at the local theater and I’m in.

Bill Irwin, who died in March of 2014 at the age of 73, co-wrote with David McCasland, a book about his journey through the Appalachian Trail.

The book is called BLIND COURAGE and that is the title of the film about his journey and his life that is currently in pre-production.

BLIND COURAGE THE MOVIE is the topic under discussion on this episode of ACTORS TALK.

We wanted this to be a film about courage and faith, and by the end, it will be obvious where Bill got that from.


He did what most of us would think is impossible

The wilderness. Maybe in our urban dwelling lives it’s hard to conjure up an image of what that means – the wilderness. We’re long removed, most of us anyway, from a life in anything resembling physical wilderness. Emotional wilderness. Spiritual wilderness. Sure, we can all probably relate to the concept.

But being IN THE WILDERNESS, roughing it, with just you and your guide dog for eight or nine months, man that’s in the wilderness.

If you’re pursuing a career as an actor or in any other area of the film business I think it’s pretty easy to relate to a guy on a quest through the wilderness.

BillOberst_ATFootageMaybe that’s why this story appeals to me so much. Over the almost forty years I’ve been pursuing the actor’s journey, there have definitely been times when I felt like I was a blind man in the wilderness. And even though I’ve had faith that I was on the right path, a trusted guide dog, something to reach out and touch, sure would’ve come in handy on more than a few occasions when the faith was getting hammered.

I think in the age of heroism and how we view it, Bill made me realize that there are real
heroes out there, and that these real heroes have their own struggles, just like we do

But there is also something to the notion that Bill Irwin was out in nature, man against the elements and all that. Except that this man had less than five senses to rely on.

billandguidedogThis project, just from the story sense, made me immediately think of wilderness stories from American history like, Lewis and Clark. Now that may be a stretch to some people but as a kid I was absolutely captivated by the Lewis and Clark story. The sense of adventure and courage and danger that story conjured up for me so many years ago came back to the surface when I learned of the Blind Courage story. Bill Irwin’s story.

It’s almost like a boyhood fantasy. Not the blind part, of course. Just the journey. But that kind of fantasy is a safe escape. It can be exciting to think about but to actually DO IT? You’d have to be nuts, wouldn’t you?

For me, there were two sides to it — the miraculous and the absurd. It is absolutely miraculous that a blind man and his dog could do this alone, and that he lived. But it’s also absurd, meaning why would he do this? Why would anyone do this? And it just became — I just saw him as a true hero. This guy put his life on the line so that he could do something no one else has done and to meet people and encourage them along the way.


Email Paula
Email Clint
Paula’s Phone: 301-523-4493
For Updates on the Movie – Join The Email List

The guide dog appearing in the BLIND COURAGE trailer is DANTE, from the Seeing Eye organization.Some quotations by director Clint Ross were taken from this article by Aislinn Sarnacki for the Bangor Daily News. Behind The Scenes Photos Courtesy of Debra Irwin


Previous post:

Next post:

Amazon, the Amazon logo, AmazonSupply, and the AmazonSupply logo are trademarks of, Inc. or its affiliates.