'The Seeker' Chronicles Motorcycle Odyssey
What does it take for a quadriplegic to ride his self-constructed motorcycle from the city of Los Angeles to the world's largest motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota?
Some will say madness, others say determination, or maybe both.
For Evan Somers, a 45-year-old spinal cord-injured scriptwriting teacher at Santa Monica College, it is about finding himself.
"The best stories are the ones that search for identity," declared Somers.
Precisely seeking answers to the questions of his life is the main plot of Evan Somers' and Jess Thomas' film: "The Seeker."
Inspired by the recent loss of a close paraplegic friend, Somers embarks on a three-week soul-searching journey throughout the United States to try to respond to the very last question his friend asked him before dying: Will they live long enough to see a cure?
But when the doors of the most significant research experts were sealed before him, Somers decided to ride his way to the famous Sturgis biker gathering, pushed by determination and a strong desire to expand awareness.
The cinema and television scriptwriting teacher has been working at SMC for six years and was a television staff writer for many popular programs, such as "Star Trek," "Deep Space 9," Nickelodeon's children's programming and network episodic dramas. He also wrote a sitcom pilot.
Inspirational, spiritual and educational, "The Seeker" is a message of hope, acceptance and life that many are looking forward to view here at SMC. The film will be shown at the AET Screening room, 1660 Stewart St. at 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 25.
This film is a "labor of love and passion," said Thomas. It captures the essence of disabled people and unfolds while staying true and honest to their voices; it is a film that breaks down barriers and bridges the gap of the fear for the unknown differences, the intolerance and the ignorance. "The Seeker" reaches out for cultures and societies to be more inclusive and spread out humanity entertainingly and informatively.
Along with a personal quest and medical investigative reports on spinal cord injuries, "The Seeker" is an inspiring film that addresses many psychological and physical issues mobility-impaired people endure, such as age deterioration, exclusion, marginalization and lack of self-esteem.
"When you are disabled you need to have tremendous self-esteem, leaping at every opposition," declared Somers, who strongly believes that inferiority should not be the pricetag of disability.
For the scriptwriting teacher, in an America that believes in improvement and better tomorrows, it is important for disabled people to raise expectations for a currently non-existent cure and use their potential to prevail over their handicap.
According to the National Spinal Cord Injuries Association, the leading cause of spinal cord injury is motor vehicle accidents (44 percent), followed by acts of violence (24 percent), falls (22 percent), sports injuries (8 percent), and other causes (2 percent).
In addition, the Travis Roy Foundation for spinal cord research published that every 41 minutes another person sustains a spinal cord injury and that more than half of those injured persons are between the ages of 16 and 30.
From surf accidents to horseback falls, "We're all humans in this together; we share more commonalties than differences. Physically challenged is more visibly apparent, that's it," said the scriptwriting teacher who along with Thomas believes that disabled people, as any other minority, should be accepted for who they are instead of what they should be.
But "The Seeker" is before all a message of hope that celebrates life and the humble strength of people who dare to believe and never quit.
Dedicated to both Somers' recently deceased close friend and to the famous actor and spinal cord injured activist Christopher Reeve, the film pays tribute to Reeve for his commitment to improving the quality of life for disabled people and developing research to help those with spinal cord injuries.
"We cannot and must not forget what he did," said Somers.
Screening "The Seeker" for the fist time, both filmmakers Somers and Thomas plan to expose their multiple message odyssey to festivals such as the Toronto International Film Festival, the Moon Dance festival and the Superfest International Media Festival on Disabilities.
In addition, Somers is currently working on a fictional screenplay called "Back to the Garden," which sets out the three-day period transformation of characters during the 1969 Woodstock concert.