Thursday, January 22, 2015

New movie filming in Georgia features autistic actors

From 11 Live in Georgia:

DECATUR, Ga. -- It's time for another take in another movie in a city that's quickly becoming a movie-making capitol.

And while this particular movie has all the stuff we associate with movies, the differences outweigh the similarities.

In the film, titled Circles, main character Ollie has autism. In real life, so does the actor who plays Ollie, 16-year-old Sam Seidel (pictured).

"This is my first real experience with it," Seidel said. "Yesterday was 11 hours. It was pretty tiring, but I still enjoy doing it."

Seidel was among more than 100 teens with autism who auditioned for the movie. Almost all the actors in the cast have autism.

"It was really important to me. It was something I wasn't willing to budge on," said director Jesse Cramer.
Cramer has acted and worked with kids with autism for years. He thought the two could blend beautifully, with cinematic success.

"I think it brings a level of authenticity that is unmatched," Cramer said. "They have a point of view that is so valuable. That makes an indelible difference in the final product."
It's a first for many, including members of the film crew flown in from Los Angeles.

"The entire crew keeps coming up to me and saying these actors are the best actors (they) ever worked with because they want to be here so badly," Cramer said.

In the movie, Ollie's best friend at school is moving away, and he has troubling expressing his feelings. He appears indifferent.

"He is unbelievably natural in front of the camera," Cramer said of Seidel. "He's dynamic. He has these huge pensive eyes, and he thinks about every scene, the subtext of every scene."

Through the movie, we learn that just because we can't see how someone feels, doesn't mean they don't feel.
"This character has emotions that run just as deep as anyone else, and he's fighting to tell the world what those are," Cramer said.

It's a simple message -- important to the boy behind the actor, who lives this every day: "That people with autism have feelings too."

But when asked about his favorite part of the movie making experience, he quickly said, "The food!"
And that's when he became just another hungry teenage boy.

"If this movie never airs, at least I had good food," he said.