Becoming Bulletproof Parent Review
While this documentary isn't appropriate for all audiences, it is still an inspiring production that may spark discussions about the way we see others.
Will and Pete Halby and their wives, Vanessa and Ila, are the force behind Zeno Mountain Farm, a nonprofit organization that aims to “support lifelong friendships between people of diverse abilities.” Their mission is to give performing arts opportunities to a huge cast of actors with developmental challenges.
In 2013, Zeno released its first Western, Bulletproof. The documentary Becoming Bulletproof by director Michael Barnett tells the story of the movie’s production and introduces members of the cast and crew, totaling 45. Among them are 18 actors with physical or cognitive challenges
While the challenges of making the movie (any movie for that matter) are addressed, the heart of the script centers on the people who make it happen.
A.J. Murray deals with the effects of Cerebral Palsy. While he is unable to use his arms or legs, he has a keen interest in film. After incessantly pestering Will Halby, A.J. finally gets the opportunity to attend the camp when a spot unexpectedly opens up. Because of poor eyesight, he has to memorize his lines with the help of his sighted volunteer. Although he loves the art form, he finds it is a different experience to be in front of the camera. Nerves prove to be a bigger challenge than even his Cerebral Palsy.
Yet being on the set gives A.J. a chance to show people what he can do rather than what he can’t do. For him, and many of the other actors, it is liberating to feel a sense of significance, dignity and purpose—tings they don’t always experience in their daily lives. Going home when shooting if finished can be difficult for many of them.
Working on the script, costumes, set and transportation duties, the Halbys are the unsung heroes of the day. They profess they didn’t set out to change people’s minds or teach lessons, however their organization may be doing just that by giving these actors a chance to showcase their talents and abilities in a supportive and inclusive environment.
The camp is designed for adult actors and as a result this documentary includes some sexual innuendo, brief discussions about sex therapy and stimulation, as well as the use of pornography. Some of the actors also cheer when Will announces the set has a whorehouse. The final scene includes a “shoot-out” between the good and bad guys, but it is less tense than might be expected.
While this documentary isn’t appropriate for all audiences, it is still an inspiring production that may spark discussions about the way we see others.
“All we want is what everybody else wants; love, respect and dignity,” says A.J.
It is hard to argue with that.Directed by Michael Barnett. Starring Vanessa Halby, Peter Halby, Ila Halby . Running time: 81 minutes. Theatrical release September 25, 2015. Updated May 12, 2016
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Becoming Bulletproof here.
Becoming Bulletproof Parents Guide
Note: Becoming Bulletproof is opening in limited theaters.
Learn more about Halby’s Zeno Mountain Farm, the nonprofit organization behind this drama camp for the challenged and disabled.
How are the lives of the able-bodied volunteers changed by their interactions with the other camp participants? Why is it important to many of the volunteers to treat everyone with dignity as they assist them with the daily rituals of life?
What kinds of responsibilities come to parent that have a child with challenges? What kind of support is important for the parent as well as the child?