The Blind Captain Documentary

$3,370 of $5,000 goal

Raised by 30 people in 2 months
Created May 25, 2018

Innovative technology helps "The Blind Captain" kayak from Europe to Asia.

Hello, we are seeking funding for an upcoming documentary titled, “The Blind Captain” a 20 minute short film that follows the journey of Ahmet Ustunel who will be crossing the Bosporus Strait solo, in his hometown of Istanbul, Turkey.  Ahmet’s project became possible with help from the first-ever annual Holman Prize Grant from the Lighthouse Blind and Visually Impaired, a non-profit in San Francisco, whose goal is to encourage the next generation of idealists and explorers. Ahmet has also received sponsorship from companies such as GoPro and Lendel, and his story has been covered by BBC, SF Examiner, SF Chronicle, Red Bull, Public Radio International, KQED, and TRT World.

Unfortunately, the filmmaking team lacks the funds to create the documentary about Ahmet's revolutionary project and share the story for public screenings and festival audiences. Our small documentary crew of one filmmaker and one photojournalist joined Ahmet’s journey in October 2017 and will continue filming in Istanbul, Turkey. The documentary team will arrive in early July 2018 to film in the city for 3 weeks!

The Bosporus is one of the world's busiest shipping channels, connecting Europe and Asia.


Ahmet Ustunel
Is an educator for the San Francisco Unified School District, where he teaches high school students who are blind and visually impaired. Raised near the Bosphorus, at a young age Ahmet dreamed of traveling the waters independently.  After contacting hundreds of engineers to create prototype devices (such as depth finders, navigational systems, obstacle detection, etc.) his lifelong dream to cross the Bosphorus Strait is close to becoming a reality. Since his project began, Ahmet has kayaked each week in Lake Merced and Tomales Bay to reach his training goal of 500 miles.

Sarabeth Maney
Is pursuing a degree in photojournalism from San Francisco State University with a minor in education. She is currently a contributing photographer to the San Francisco Chronicle and previous intern for the SF Examiner and photo editor of the Golden Gate Express where she covered both local and national news stories. During her time at the Lighthouse, she gained an interest in telling stories related to disability and accessibility. 
Nicolas Jara
Is a recent graduate from San Francisco State University who received a degree in cinema and a minor in anthropology. He has worked in several departments in the film industry, including producing, editing, and directing. He was recently awarded  the Barabara Hammer Filmmaking Award at SF Film Finals for his short film "Guardian" which is currently in the festival circuit. 


Filmmaking (especially internationally) is by no means an inexpensive process. With all the quickly accumulating costs of production, right away we became aware we do not have enough funds! This is where we need you. We are hoping to recieve assistance to help cover the costs of the following expenses:

- Hiring a Turkish translator for filming and interviews. Although Ahmet and his wife Dilara are bilingual and fluent in both Turkish and English, the small documentary crew will need someone who specializies in translations to help faciliate successful interviews when the Ustunels are not present.

- Pay for the costs of a chase boat for the film crew to follow and capture footage of Ahmet. A local Istanbul company was very generous and offered their boat for a small fee. However, we need to cover the cost of gas. Ahmet will be riding solo in his kayak and the team will need to stay close by Ahmet for both safety reasons and film production quality.

- Hiring a second camera operator and sound recordist in Istanbul. Although we are an independent project, it is important for us to support the local industry and pay fair wages and day rates to Istanbul filmmakers.

- Several harddrives to save captured footage over the 3 weeks in Instanbul. Three weeks of shooting takes quite a bit of storage space. And we will need to take all of the material back to San Francisco!

- 1 plane ticket for a filmmaker. We have all of the other tickets purchased, we just need to buy the last round trip!

- Audio-descriptions and Turkish translations to make the film accessible for blind audiences and international audiences. We want our film to reach all of our communities!

- Post production: editing and sound mixing services. After shooting is completed, we need to ensure that the hundreds of hours of captured footage is properly cared for and the film is screenable for festivial distribution and the community.
- Local and International film festival submissions. We believe this story and film has the ability to start the dialouge about accessibility to public spaces for all. It is essential that we get this film out to the world!

Please feel free to contact us with any additional inquiries. Thank you so much for all your support! No donation is too small. Even a share on your social media and following our funding campaign would mean the world. You can help make “The Blind Captain” documentary come to life!

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$3,370 of $5,000 goal

Raised by 30 people in 2 months
Created May 25, 2018
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