Darius Goes West is a documentary about 15-year-old Darius Weems, who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), a progressive and terminal illness that takes the lives of its victims in their late teens to early 20s. The film follows Darius and his 11 closest friends on a 7,000 mile RV road trip as they travel from their hometown of Athens, Georgia to California, to show Darius the world outside of Athens and, they hope, to get MTV to fix up Darius' wheelchair on the show Pimp My Ride. Logan Smalley, the director of the film and Darius' close friend, was kind enough to take time out of a busy fest schedule to talk to Cinematical about the film.
Cinematical: When did you decide you wanted to make a film out of this road trip with Darius? Was that the plan from the beginning?
Logan Smalley: I was there the first day Darius got his wheelchair at the summer camp we'd originally met at – we first met when he was five years old. I first met him through his brother Mario, who had DMD as well, and Mario was in my group. So I've known Darius since he was five. And around fifth grade, he was making the transition from a walker to a wheelchair, and it was during the summer that he was making this transition and I was there. And as his counselor at the time it was my job to help make him feel good about it. It's kind of like a kid getting glasses, times a hundred. It's a big physical change for all his peers. And it was my job to make him feel cool about it, and one of the things we thought about was putting chains on the wheels and spray-painting them, you know, make it look cool. But way before we got around to doing that, he accepted it, being in the chair. It was way easier for him to get around.
More after the jump ...