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Free To Be

The freedom to make your own decisions. Many take it for granted. But disability rights attorney Morgan Whitlatch calls the fight for this right “the cutting civil rights issue for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.” Thousands of capable adults with disabilities, across the US, are living under the restrictions of court-appointed guardianship. They cannot choose where to live, make their own healthcare decisions, and, in some states, do not have the right to vote. But attitudes are changing and so are state laws. Free To Be chronicles one woman’s journey from guardianship to independence as she becomes the voice of a disability rights movement and ushers in big changes for her home state of Indiana.

  • Bryan Boyd
  • Rachel Hunter
  • Bryan Boyd
  • Jessica Trimble
  • Jamie Beck
    Key Cast
  • Morgan Whitlatch
    Key Cast
  • Dan Stewart
    Key Cast
  • Melissa Keyes
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    15 minutes 4 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 9, 2020
  • Production Budget:
    10,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital 4K
  • Aspect Ratio:
    4096 × 2160
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Bryan Boyd

Bryan Boyd is a director and cinematographer whose work has won multiple Emmy Awards, journalism awards, and film festival accolades. He works extensively in documentary, narrative, and commercial filmmaking. His most recent work includes: cinematographer/art director for the short film Absolution, major photographer on the documentary film Eva, and producer of the documentary When The Kids Wrote The Headlines. Absolution premiered at Dances With Films Festival in 2018, screened at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, and went on to win for Best Cinematography at the Queen Palm International Film Festival, as well as Honorable Mention at the Independent Shorts Awards. Eva, which was distributed nationally on PBS in 2019, won awards at the Heartland International Film Festival, Chagrin Documentary Film Festival, and Rhode Island International Film Festival. The Emmy award-winning When Kids Wrote The Headlines was also a winner at 2018 Heartland's Indy Shorts Film Festival. Boyd's commercial portfolio includes brands like NBA Entertainment, Jameson Whiskey, Ancestry.com, Eli Lilly & Co., Kenra Professional, and Evolv Sports.

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Director Statement

I decided to direct Free to Be soon after meeting disability rights advocate Jamie Beck. She was bold, authentic and unafraid to take risks. She had a full-time job, an apartment, and a solid network of support. But the one thing Jamie didn’t have was the legal right to make her own decisions. Jamie was under court-appointed guardianship and there was no clear way out. But a pilot program in her home state of Indiana gave her the chance to prove she could live independently. Jamie not only proves her competence to the court, she emerges as a powerful advocate. In her words, “Sometimes you’ve got to stand up and face the bully [...] There is a time where you’ve got to stand up.” It’s at this moment we see Jamie’s character arc develop. She does stand up, taking an important seat at the table on the front lines of the fight for decision-making rights for those with disabilities. In the process, she becomes the voice of a civil rights movement in Indiana. When I began making Free To Be, I set out to tell the story of a person caught up in a flawed system but soon realized I was telling the story of someone changing the system.

Significant funding for Free To Be was provided by a grant by the U.S. Administration for Community Living. I, the filmmaker, was encouraged to freely express my findings and conclusions. Points of views or opinions, therefore, do not necessarily represent the ACL or official ACL policy.

Delivery DCP includes open English captions for all screenings.