Smart Ass Cripple: The Movie

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$6,102 raised of $5,000 goal
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Kris Lenzo's project was funded on May 08, 2016
    • 3Arts matched
    • 122% contributed

In a Nutshell

Smart Ass Cripple: The Movie is a short biographical documentary about Mike Ervin, a playwright, disability rights activist, and writer of the blog “Smart Ass Cripple.” As a disabled artist myself, I have always appreciated Mike’s work and felt that his story, and those of many other disabled artists, deserve to be more widely known. With this documentary, I hope to pilot what will become a series of documentary profiles on artists with disabilities here in Chicago. The project will show some of the realities of living with a disability and promote understanding and connection between people with disabilities and the larger community. I’ve seen the value and the necessity of sharing these stories. Forty-nine million people in the US have a disability, yet stories about or including a person with a disability are substantially underrepresented in mainstream media. When disability does make it onto the big screen, it’s usually a patronizing, stereotypical caricature. With your support, I will launch this project by highlighting one of Chicago’s great talents, and build more awareness and connection between the disabled and able-bodied communities.


The Full Story...

After having a 25-year career in wheelchair sports, I unexpectedly became involved with dance for the first time at age 43 and have been performing now for 13 years. Through dance, I became more involved with other artists, performers, and activists in the disability community, including Mike Ervin. Born with muscular dystrophy (MD), Mike has spent decades sharing his perspective through journalism, blogging, theater, and disability rights activism. As a child, he grew up being paraded on national television as part of the Jerry Lewis Telethons to raise money for MD. These experiences as a poster child—intended to inspire guilt, discomfort, and pity in media consumers—led Mike to form a group of ex-telethon kids, called Jerry’s Orphans. Mike and his group protested the money-raising broadcasts in an effort to instead promote fair and respectful treatment of people with disabilities. 

In his "Smart Ass Cripple" blog, Mike shares his day-to-day experiences. He has struggled with, and championed, a wide variety of disability-related issues including independent living, the accessibility of public establishments, and our cultural attitude towards people with disabilities. Now, Mike’s work will be the lens through which I examine the experience of living with a disability.

In my next artistic venture I want to expand my creative range and relationship with the art community, so I am collaborating with my daughter, Natalie Stone, a filmmaker. I, as a double amputee, and Natalie, a woman who grew up in a disability community, are uniquely qualified to provide insight into this diverse society. This nonfictional piece will show what it’s like to live, and thrive, in our world today as an individual with a disability. Donations will be used for production costs, equipment rentals, post production, and distribution.

We live in a political culture where it’s deemed acceptable to balance the state of Illinois’ budget by cutting services to our most vulnerable citizens who are often people with disabilities. Telling these folks’ stories will help to change this misguided culture.

Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $25 - Hand-made Thank You card
    ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50 - Thank You card plus movie poster
    ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $75 - All of the above, plus a shout-out in the movie credits
    ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $100 - All of the above, plus a DVD of the documentary
    ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $150 - All of the above, plus signed copies of “Mike’s Little Red Book” and “Little Yellow Book” written by Mike Ervin
    ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
Kris Lenzo image
Kris Lenzo made the transition to dance after more than two decades as a wheelchair athlete and a national champion in wheelchair basketball and wheelchair track. As a member of ...
  • Update 1: Campaign update
    Posted on April 04, 2016

    Thank you to our generous supporters! We've raised 90% of our goal! 

    Update 2: Stretch Goal
    Posted on April 20, 2016

    Thank you to all our contributors!! We've reached our $5,000 campaign goal and now we're setting a stretch goal of $7,500. All contributions are tax deductible. Thank for your support.

    • Thank you to the following for contributing to 3Arts with the recommendation that we support this project.

    • Christina d'Orthez

    • Christopher Gotschall

    • Alex Paguirigan

    • Marie Ullrich

    • Reveca Torres

    • Lisa Rosen

    • Carol Stukey

    • Anuradha Rana

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Kathy Casillas

    • Aurora Tabar

    • Anna Stasey

    • Laurie Little

    • Ariana Bachechi

    • Candice Moretti

    • James Kettlewell

    • Anne and Bob Johnson

    • Joe Beaver

    • Kevin and Dora Calkins

    • Anthony Tusler

    • Robin Stephens

    • Fawzia Mirza

    • Susan Hoyer

    • Darrell Price

    • Kris Lenzo

    • Kristin Lister

    • Jennifer Rodin

    • Matt Lauterbach

    • Marian Oliver

    • Joanne Belasco

    • Anyhony Lenzo

    • Deborah Donnelley

    • Stephen Lenzo

    • Jill Gardner

    • Laura Voigt

    • Maria Gray

    • Stephanie Clemens

    • chris claeys

    • Carollina Song

    • Roxy Lenzo

    • Christine Zielinski

    • Lisa Lenzo

    • Tekki Lomnicki

    • Kris Lenzo

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Peter Lenzo

    • Lorenzo and Maureen Thurman

    • Steve Wood

    • jim gallo

    • Joseph Varisco

    • jim f

    • Carrie Sandahl

    • Karen & Kevin Tamley & Irvine

    • Art Blaser

    • Christine Yost

    • Victor Cole

    • Debjani Mukherjee

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • James Morrow

make it work

This is our way of helping great projects see the light of day, while introducing our community to some of Chicago’s most brilliant artists.

3AP is funded in part by grants from:

Joan Mitchell Foundation
The Joyce Foundation

    DCASE