Quid Pro Quo Movie
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Quid Pro Quo
For just a moment, try and get past the shoes: Burgundy-on-black Spectator wingtips in a shop window that Isaac Knott passes daily in the new film, Quid Pro Quo. After wrestling with the idea of buying the shoes for several days, one day he springs for them, feeling a warm tingle as he places them on his feet.

Isaac, who is portrayed by Nick Stahl, navigates life in a wheelchair, having been paralyzed at eight in the auto accident that also claimed his parents. Years later, when he wears the shoes, they seem to give him sensation and mobility in his legs; they even appear to reverse the paralysis that he’s dealt with most of his life.

Yet Quid Pro Quo, distributed by Magnolia Pictures, is more than just “another movie about magical shoes,” says director Carlos Brooks. It’s part romance, part detective story. Rather than focusing on the physicality of Isaac, Brooks’ first feature digs deeper to see how Isaac’s problems appear in everyday life.

“I was interested in taking this story into the psychological realm, where no matter what our physical condition, we all have the same psychological potentials or limitations that we struggle with,” he says. “Isaac puts on these shoes which allow him to walk again. That send him on a quest where, in the end, he discovers that he has really been investigating himself.”
Brooks, who does not have a disability, says his initial plan was to do a movie about a person with a disability who overcame an impairment, while helping the person who injured him in the first place. But when he came upon a group of people known as Wannabes, it redefined Quid Pro Quo.

The filmmaker grew up outside Seattle, WA, hiking extensively in the Pacific Northwest, including the entire length of the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada during a break from college. He studied journalism at Western Washington (State) University in Bellingham,and later attended USC on a merit scholarship to study film and writing at the School of Cinema-Television. He has written for both independent and studio projects, and lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two daughters.

The discovery of “Wannabes,” able-bodied people who inherently desire to have a disability “lit a fire,” says Brooks. “It was my ‘eureka moment’ as a writer, and it’s where the story came from,” he says.

When we meet him, Isaac is living in New York and working as a public radio talk show host. He tells stories, many of them about what life is like from the vantage point of his wheelchair. One day he becomes unnerved by an anonymous caller with a story more compelling than any of the ones he tells: A man walked into an area hospital with $250,000 in hand, demanding that one of his legs be amputated.

The caller, known only as “Ancient Chinese Girl,” continues to phone in, eventually meeting up with Isaac. Her real name is Fiona (Vera Farmiga), and she leads the deejay into the odd and disturbing world of Wannabes: “I was online doing research and discovered that there were people out there for whom getting help would be the exact opposite of what I thought getting help would be,” Brooks admits. He says he was confused as to why “help” for an able-bodied person would be to have a disability, whereas “help” to people with disabilities might be to regain use of certain functions.

Quid Pro Quo shines the spotlight on some of Issac’s challenges with his disability: He meets a woman on a blind date who can’t see past the wheelchair. He contends with stares and/or overly eager assistance from onlookers. He struggles to hail a taxi on the streets of New York City.

“If you’re wondering, I can have sex. I just can’t catch a cab,” he quips.

Thank consultant and actor Mitch Longley for the movie’s telling details.
“A lot of the authenticity in the film comes from his contributions,” Brooks says. “He was adamant that we hit the sexuality of it, the whole gamut of human experience that is often overlooked, denied and/or forgotten.”

Brooks opened auditions to actors with disabilities as well as able-bodied actors. Actress, model and Paralympic world record holder Aimee Mullins landed the role of Isaac’s former girlfriend. The leading role of Isaac and supporting role of Fiona were ultimately portrayed by Farmiga and Stahl, both able-bodied actors who best fit their respective roles.

Brooks had Stahl prepare for his part by using a wheelchair on the punishing sidewalks of Manhattan.

“There was an interesting relationship between him and strangers … There’s no pity or misappropriated anger, or any anger,” Brooks says. “I’m really proud of how all of that stereotype is defeated, and you very quickly are just identifying with the character and the person.”

That’s why Brooks wants viewers to get past the shoes and the perceived healing powers they represent—the ability of Isaac to suddenly walk once he places them on his feet only to revert back to his disability once they..... continued in ABILITY Magazine

ABILITY Magazine
Other articles in the Lainie Kazan issue include Headlines — Colorful Wheelchairs; Aid For Medical Bills; Senator Harkin — Global Disability Rights; Green Pages — Solar Garden Lighting; Vegan Shoes; Humor — Get Off the Couch and Get a Hobby; Managing Pain — The Latest On Headaches; Mobility Issues? — Try A Trike; Cambodian Sports — Athletes With Disabilities Rule!; Looking For Love? — Try One of These Dating Sites; Spinal Cord Injuries — New Possibilities; Know Your Rights; ABILITY's Crossword Puzzle; DRLC — Got Cancer?; Events and Conferences...subscribe

More excerpts from the Lainie Kazan issue:

Lainie Kazan — Four Decades In the Spotlight

Cambodian — Disability Sport

Martin Klebba — Larger Than Life

Quid Pro Quo — A Film About the “Wannabe” Disabled

Kawasaki Teryx Accessible Fun

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