Thursday, May 3, 2012

Teen autistic filmmaker from Wisconsin makes "No Pity," a short documentary discouraging "pity campaigning"

From PBS:

Drew Morton Goldsmith is no stranger to the art of filmmaking. In the past six years he has already built a resume that would make any Tisch student green around the gills: participation in more than 20 international film festivals with his film Treasure Diversity and awards from YouTube (at age 10, for the Sky’s the Limit contest) and the United Nations.

But it’s not the accolades that motivate Drew to continue his work. As a fifteen year old with “significant disabilities,” Drew is passionate about using filmmaking to open people’s hearts and expand their minds.
Drew found inspiration in a challenging moment several years ago, when his favorite English teacher, in a well-meaning gesture, told him that she was going to make a donation to a certain Autism charity. As an Autism self-advocate, Drew knew this charity to rely on what he calls “pity-based marketing.”

He decided to use filmmaking as a means to expose this technique, and to articulate the way it feels to be the person who is characterized as pitiable for the sake of fundraising.

When Drew was accepted into the Project VoiceScape program, he was coming to the table with a rough cut of his documentary, No Pity. Drew has used his time with his mentor, Aaron Matthews (A Panther in Africa, My American Girls), to expand the rough cut from its original format — entirely archival footage — to include original footage Drew shot himself. “Aaron encouraged me to give my film more of my own image — literally begin the film with a sequence involving me. Aaron has also taught me about leaving just a bit more on the editing room floor.”

“At each turn, Aaron reminded me that it was my work — I had the final say — but he was there as a responsive sounding board. It was an ideal working relationship.”

What is the most important message he wants his audience to take away from No Pity?

“[This is] a disabled teenager’s heartfelt appeal for respect and dignity,” says Drew. “Dignity always trumps pity.”