“Darius Goes West”: Please help by voting for a really important cause.

Jarrard Cole, a friend of my buddie Joe Stunzi wrote me a really great email about a very important cause. I wanted to share this email with you and hope as many as you as possible can help out…

This shows how filmmaking can make a real difference to some people. It will only take a few minutes of your time to read this and if you feel the cause is worthy a free vote for it will make an enormous difference. Thanks so much.


First off, thank you so much for the resource your provide the independent
filmmaking community through your website, your twitter feed and your
incredible willingness to answer questions and offer advice.  I am a
self-taught filmmaker and multimedia journalist, though I feel self-taught
may not be the best description.  It is due to people like you that I have
been able to learn what I have.  Thank you.

My name is Jarrard Cole, and I’m a friend of Joseph Stunzi’s from Athens,
GA.  I directed a film last year that Joseph and I co-produced.  I’m the
multimedia editor at dailytarheel.com, the student newspaper for the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

In high school, I was fortunate to contribute as an editor to a local
project called *Darius Goes West.* A student at the University and 11 of his
friends traveled across the country with Darius Weems.  Darius has Duchenne
Muscular Dystrophy.  DMD is the number one genetic killer of children
worldwide.  Darius is in a wheelchair and the goal was to take him across
the country to appear on MTV’s “Pimp my Ride” TV show to have them “pimp”
his wheelchair.

When I began the project, I honestly expected it to flop.  The story was
incredible, but I was skeptical it would turn out well in documentary form.
I worked with the university student, Logan Smalley, and soon realized that
his vision as a director was incredible.  He lacked skills technically that
I could provide, but he held the entire film in his head and labored on it
for months.

Now, nearly two years after the film was released, I am proud to say it has
experienced wild success.  It made the usual year-long tour of the film
festival circuit and them somehow continued on for an additional year; it
still receives invitations.  The guys in the film traveled across the USA,
to the UK, to Greece to share the film.  It has been referenced on CNN, The
Today Show, the Ellen Degeneres Show, and Nightline.  However, the most
amazing part of its success has not been the accolades.  The amazing thing
about Darius Goes West is that it illustrated to me the galvanizing power of
film as it sparked a movement to cure a disease.  It revealed the strength
of a medium often debated in a technical sense.  It interfaced with reality
to make something happen.  More about the film can be found here:

The group has undertaken an extremely unique distribution effort.  You can
see the entire film (or a trailer) online for free here, and you are
challenged to share the film if you enjoy it:

This all brings me (long windedly) to my point.  Darius Goes West has raised
over 2 million dollars for reasearch and now it stands to raise $1 million
more.  It is currently in a vote on facebook to win $1 million dollars.  The
vote ends tomorrow (Friday) at midnight, eastern standard time.

I know this is an incredible long shot.  It only occurred to me today that
you might be the kind of person who would appreciate an effort like this.
While we didn’t use DSLRs or 35mm adapters 😉 the effort was very much in
the spirit that your blog and life portray.  Honest filmmaking to tell a
great story.  We used DVX100 cameras and had no budget, and now the film is
changing the world.  We’re using technology available to anyone to share the
story.  Might you be willing to mention Darius Goes West on your blog or
perhaps on twitter?  We are in the top ten and need only a few hundred more
votes to place for money.

I understand that you are quite busy in Dubai, and I will absolutely respect
your decision to post or not to post anything about DGW.  It may not be
appropriate for me to make this request, but I care deeply about the cause.
I more than understand if you view this as inappropriate for your blog.  If
you would like more info or would like me to draft the post or anything, I
would be happy to.  The link to the vote is here: http://bit.ly/votemd The
vote is free, it takes only a couple clicks on Facebook.  Every single vote
also earns $1 for DMD research.

An embeddable promo for Darius Goes West can be found here:

Again, I cannot thank you enough for what you do for independent filmmaking
and for taking the time to read this long email.  I wish you the best in

Many thanks,
Jarrard Cole


You may also like


  1. A huge thanks for sharing this!

    Unfortunately the vote page seems to be having a little trouble right now. If you want to support this or other causes, I’d suggest to keep trying: http://apps.facebook.com/chasecommunitygiving/charities/233495

    Last time there was page trouble, the vote was extended by a day, so if you are reading this on Saturday or later, try the link and see if you can vote.

    Just a friendly reminder that each vote for DGW is $1 straight to DMD research, and that the film is up for free to view in its entirety from the playitforward link.

    Thanks so much for the support everyone!

  2. I wanted to chime in to say that Darius Goes West (DGW) is quite the amazing cause. It shows what a few recent college grads can do when they set their mind to it. It also further shows that “CONTENT IS KING”…. remember that!

    Good work as always Jarrard and Phil!

Leave a Reply