Ashland Daily Tidings, Tribune video contest winners announced

Medford resident Dominic Luciano says lifelong medical problems thwarted some childhood activities, but gave him time to develop a range of other skills, including music, photography, graphic design and video production.

"It's all digital art made with a computer," said Luciano, who was born with cerebral palsy affecting his left side, then was diagnosed with a brain tumor and ultimately Neurofibromatosis Type 2, a disease that causes tumors to grow on his nerves.

His digital art skills were on display in a quirky video called "Skateboard Deathmatch," which was selected the winner in the Mail Tribune and Ashland Daily Tidings "Love Letters to Summer" video contest.

Made by Luciano, 19, and his friend Brent Pearson, 40, the 81-second video features local skaters Ty Jones and Peyton Warfell and others at the Bear Creek Skate Park performing skate tricks, mock kung fu and other staged fights.

Pearson and Luciano finished off their creative creation with comically garbled dubbing, subtitles and other sound and visual effects inspired by Asian action films.

Pearson, who works at Bank of the Cascades, makes videos, especially music videos, as a hobby. A short film he directed called "Big Iron," which brought a Marty Robbins classic ballad to life, was part of the Ashland Independent Film Festival in 2009.

Pearson and Luciano have produced a few projects together and were looking for fun with a new camera Luciano had when they made "Skateboard Deathmatch."

"We just wanted to get out of the house and have some fun," Pearson said.

The two are now working to raise $10,000 for Luciano's next project — attending Musicians Institute in Hollywood, starting in October.

Luciano has studied at Rogue Community College and Southern Oregon University, but he hopes the private school in California will give him a quick boost in the music industry, even though financial aid won't cover the entire expense.

He wants to accelerate his career to outpace tumors that continue to plague him, even though medication holds them in check for now. Removing a tumor from the nerves leading to his right ear damaged his hearing in that ear, and now an identical tumor is growing on the left side. Even more worrying is a spinal tumor high in his neck that could lead to paralysis, Luciano said.

"I want to get a degree first before I face surgery with a long rehab or the possible loss of my hearing," he said.

Ultimately he hopes to inspire people with disabilities to be part of the music industry and perhaps bring attention to his rare disease.

For more information on his fundraising efforts, see www.dominicmluciano.com.

The other videos entered in the contest focused more closely on life in Southern Oregon.

Darla Case, of Ashland, bought her first video camera back in the 1980s to record and pass on important family memories when her father was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

"I wanted my youngest daughter to hear her grandpa's laugh," Case said.

She was learning to edit videos on a new laptop when she produced her contest entry, which captured a Southern Oregon favorite — the Early Day Gas Engine & Tractor Association celebration at Pottsville.

Anita Burke is a reporter for the Mail Tribune. Reach her at 541-776-4485, or email aburke@mailtribune.com.

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