The Unlikely Story of Dean Zimmer, 'The Mean Dean Drumming Machine'

How one musician overcame physical limitations to develop a distinctive drumming style.

More

You’d never guess it, but Dean Zimmer is a whirlwind on the drums. Zimmer has arthrogryposis, a rare congenital disorder that makes it difficult to move his joints. In the short documentary Drummer Wanted: Dean Zimmer, filmmakers Ross Harris and Stanley Gonzales follow Zimmer as he rolls through Los Angeles in a wheelchair and then proceeds to tear it up on the drums.

Harris and Gonzales live in Los Angeles and met Zimmer at a shared band rehearsal studio. “He really is just an incredibly patient and sweet guy that takes everything in stride,” says Harris. “Circumstances that would embitter just about anyone he handles with an amazing positivity.”

There’s an undeniable musicality and precision to the way Zimmer drums, the passion written all over his face. “Play from the heart!” says Zimmer. “Probably the best way I’ve found [to play] is to step out of it somehow and try to leave all the physical stuff behind.”

Harris and Gonzales work on commercial and television projects in Los Angeles and hope to continue to document more people with disabilities that are achieving their dreams. To see more of their work, visit rossangeles.net and stanleygonzales.com.

Jump to comments

Sam Price-Waldman is an associate video producer at The Atlantic. More

Price-Waldman's documentaries have been featured by Vimeo Staff Picks, on PBS, and at film festivals including AFI SilverDocs and Full Frame.
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Wine Is Healthy—Isn't It? It Is—No?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Is Trading Stocks for Suckers?

If you think you’re smarter than the stock market, you’re probably either cheating or wrong

Video

I Spent Half My Life Making a Video Game

How a childhood hobby became a labor of love

Video

The Roughest, Toughest Race in the World

"Sixty hours. No sleep. Constant climbing and descending. You're out there by yourself. All day and night."

Video

The Gem of the Pacific Northwest

A short film explores the relationship between the Oregon coast and the people who call it home.

Video

Single-Tasking Is the New Multitasking

Trying to do too many internet things at once makes it hard to get anything done at all.

 

Video

New Zealand in HD

The country's diverse landscapes, seen in dreamy time-lapse footage

Writers

Up
Down

Just In