Finding Strength in the Journey

Look Up & Look Forward is a film by UT Austin students Jon Michael Simpson, Jeff McQuitty, and Santiago Dietche. The story is inspirational with its message of hope in even the most challenging circumstances.  The film follows the journey of 14-year old Blake Hyland, who suffered a serious head trauma from a gymnastics accident, and shows how Blake and his family find hope and strength in the path to recovery.

 We asked Jon to talk about his experience bringing stories to the screen.

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On his creative process

 I think trusting my gut and bouncing ideas off of people who are more talented than me helps me filter my thoughts. What ultimately guides my choice in crafting a story is asking, Is this keeping my attention and is every scene revealing something new to me?

On the how he first heard about Blake’s story

 Blake and I were neighbors growing up and after I heard about his accident, I was encouraged by how he and his family responded with faith and hope, instead of fear.

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 On his early start making films  

College was where I really began to learn the different components that go into making a film. After finishing my first short film, the experience of seeing that idea transfer from something written on a piece of paper into something alive on screen was like nothing else.

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On his role as a filmmaker

My hope is that I can create stories that encourage others, make them laugh, maybe help them laugh at themselves, and find hope in bleak circumstances.

How have you overcome a life challenge, or been inspired by the hope of someone else’s story? Tweet your response @SOW.

 Are you an up-and-coming filmmaker looking for opportunities? Sign up for our mailing list. Look Up & Look Forward aired on Pivot TV in June 2014. Follow @pivot_tv on Twitter for more news and updates, and find out if you have Pivot at


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