King Gimp

 
 

Dan “King Gimp” Keplinger was born with cerebral palsy.  He spent the first part of his life learning to live with his disability at a special school that taught him how to use a power wheelchair and type with a headstick.  Dan is extremely intelligent, so when he was a teenager, his mother mainstreamed him into regular schools.  There he discovered he could use his headstick to paint and draw, and express his emotions better than any computer-assisted speech.  An artist was born.


Filmmakers Bill Whiteford and Susan Hadary chronicled Dan’s development as an artist and as a person for 13 years, from his days in special education through his college graduation in this 40-minute short documentary film.  It won the 1999 Academy Award® for Best Achievement in Documentary Short Subject.


While this film is not my work per se and I cannot claim any significant creative contribution, it represents the experience I bring to bear on every project, the kinds of characters who truly inspire me, and the passion with which I approach storytelling.  As Assistant Editor on the film while working with Bill and Susan, I saw this film evolve from the 100 hours of raw footage through the rough cuts, the picture lock by Geoff Bartz at HBO, and the final 16mm film print submitted for Academy consideration.  This sequence is actually from some of the very first footage that by chance I pulled out of the bin to log.  I was so inexperienced at the time I’m not sure I did a very good job!


Thankfully I learned from literally the best in the business, and consider Bill and Susan the strongest influences on my documentary work:  Bill for his light directorial touch, beautiful cinematography, and sensitive eye for characterization; Susan for her industry savvy and peerless interviewing skills; and both of them for their sincere interest in the welfare of their subjects.  The whole King Gimp experience was as enriching personally as it was professionally, and changed my life irrevocably for the better.


You can learn more about Dan here.

To rent or purchase King Gimp, visit the filmmakers’ page.


Produced and Directed by William Whiteford and Susan Hadary

Edited by Geoff Bartz

Released by Home Box Office, distributed by University of MD School of Medicine Video Press

1999 Academy Award Winner Best Achievement in Documentary Short Subject

BetaSP, 3/4” U-matic

Edited on Avid

1999

Art is his language.  Paint is his voice.