Diagnosed with a progressive muscular disease, spinal muscular atrophy, at the age of 4, Dominick Evans of Washington Twp. has had more than his share of challenges. “I’m originally from Toledo, but moved here first in 2000 to attend Wright State,” Evans said. “I was interested in acting, so I majored in performing arts.”
In a wheelchair since age 16, Evans had become accustomed to navigating around new places by the age 19 when he came to Wright State University. But in 2003, he slipped and fell from his shower chair and fractured his tibia, which disrupted his plans. “I never got to finish my degree,” he said. “I moved to Michigan, and as a result of my fall, I developed a lot of pain and became bedridden.”
After nearly five years in bed, Evans decided he wanted more for his life. “I wanted to return to school and finish, so with the help of physical therapy and medication, I was finally able to sit in my wheelchair again.”
Evans and his girlfriend, Ashtyn Law, left their home in Michigan in 2010 to come back to Dayton. By that time, Evans had decided he didn’t want to be in front of the camera, but behind, directing. “I knew about the WSU film program and that it was one of the best in the country,” Evans said.
“While Dominick is not the first student with a disability to enter the (motion picture arts) program at Wright State, he is the first student with a disability to get into junior year,” Law said. “Most students either do not make it through the audition process of this incredibly competitive program or they quit before they finish.”
And since Evans is now a junior in the program, he became eligible to have a film chosen by his peers to be produced as part of a thesis project.
“Junior year is very hard,” Evans said. “You start out by going through some very strict production classes. Then in January, everyone starts writing scripts and the class reviews and critiques each one. It can be a very emotional and gut-wrenching process.”
Each year, two-three scripts are chosen and will eventually be filmed. Evans, along with Law and seniors Kyle Wilkenson, (director of photography), Brock Komon (lighting), Megan Hague (sound mixer) and about 15 other students will begin shooting “TRIP” in May.
“TRIP” is the story of Casey, a 19-year-old mother who has to choose between building a better life for her child or continuing her relationship with Gavin, her child’s father, which only exists because of drugs and sex. The film is based on the real life story of Evans’ girlfriend, Law.
The film will be shot in Washington Twp. and throughout the Dayton area.
Though he hopes to eventually live part time in Hollywood or New York, he said Dayton will always be his home base. “Dayton is friendly to film and to people with disabilities,” Evans said. “I’m 32 now and most filmmakers in the Wright State program are in their 20s and it’s because I’ve had so many challenges. I’m mature enough now, though, to know what I want to do and where I want to go. It’s such an honor to be chosen, and I’m hoping our film will eventually go to festivals like Sundance because we want people to see a film that represents Dayton positively.”
Evans credits Law and her family for supporting him along the way and said they are currently working to help him raise money for the film, which must be self-funded. “The community is very enthusiastic,” Evans said. “We are having a couple of fundraisers that include some great auction items, like Dayton Dragons and (Cincinnati) Reds tickets.”
The next fundraiser will be held at BDs Mongolian Grill at The Greene in Beavercreek from 6 to 9 p.m. today. Admission of $25 will include dinner and a drink as well as an opportunity to bid on many auction items.
For more information about Evans and his work, go online to www.electricmarshmallow.com or email TRIPfilm2013@gmail.com.