a documentary short by Jason Hanasik

How To Make A Pearl



For 53 years, John Kapellas frolicked underneath the bright sky of the American West. Without warning, he started breaking out in rashes and feeling as if his entire body was on fire whenever he was exposed to light. Diagnosed with a rare photosensitivity to the entire spectrum of light, Kapellas (now 63) has lived the last decade in darkness. “How To Make A Pearl” explores Kapellas’ current reality, his coping mechanisms, and the shadows in his past.  


Film Festivals: 

March 2018 Salem Film Festival

February 2018 Oxford Film Festival

November 2017 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)- International Premiere 

November 2017 DOC NYC- NYC Premiere

September 2017 Camden International Film Festival- North American Premiere


Trauma Resources

Click the button below to learn more about the therapeutic modality John discusses in the film and how to find a therapist in your area.


John Kapellas

Visit John's personal website and check out more of his artwork!


Stream "How to make a pearl"

Intimate, sympathetic but never maudlin, Hanasik’s short film is exquisitely shot and edited, and unfolds with a subtle, enveloping musical rhythm. ‘How To Make A Pearl’ is a gem.
— Edward Guthmann, former San Francisco Chronicle film critic