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Pioneering Collaboration Empowers Filmmaker with Cerebral Palsy

Collaboration and innovation are alive on the Colorado Mesa University Tech campus, helping realize the dream of determined filmmaking student with cerebral palsy, Cleo Wayt. While accessibility in the film industry has been centered around the viewer’s experience as more platforms enforce captions, audio descriptions and transcriptions, CMU Tech instructors have helped propel accessibility one step further for their students behind the camera.

Recognizing Cleo's passion and the potential for technology to bridge accessibility gaps, CMU Tech film instructor Josh Meuwly initiated the exploratory process with colleagues Mike Mahoney, instructor of computer aided design (CAD) and Frank Cardoza, machining technology lab and safety technician. After brainstorming a pioneering solution, Mahoney spearheaded the design and development stage. Using CAD technology, he created a specialized 3D-printed prototype rod that would seamlessly mount a camera onto Cleo's electric wheelchair.

While Mahoney worked on the design, the film department tested several cameras and configurations to find the right combination for Cleo. The final configuration used a RED Cinema Camera with their RED control App and the DJI Ronin RS-3 Gimbal using RavenEye Image Transmission Technology with the DJI Ronin App.

Following rigorous testing and refinement, the project was passed on to Cardoza who meticulously crafted the finalized piece out of aluminum. Frank's precision ensured that the mount could seamlessly support the weight of the camera and gimble, providing Cleo with a stable platform for her filmmaking endeavors.

"Having this adapted camera mount allows me the freedom to express myself creatively without constraints. It's an empowering experience that has redefined what's possible for me as a filmmaker," shared Cleo Wayt.

Central to the project's success was the integration of cutting-edge technology which enabled Cleo to exert complete control over the camera functions and movements wirelessly from her iPad. This transformative feature enhanced Cleo's independence and opened doors to creative possibilities.

Josh Meuwly is currently mentoring student filmmakers as Cleo co-directs a documentary capturing her life story and experiences through CMU Tech’s film program. Meuwly is also in the process of applying for the Colorado Film Education Grant to help propel the documentary project further, with the hopes of gaining funding to complete the project by her graduation at in Spring of 2025.

Check out Cleo’s equipment in action on CMU Tech's Instagram.


Written by Staff