Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015 – ASD in the Workplace

With gratitude to The Sprout Fund for sponsoring the Arts for Autism Filmmakers Guild, we’re excited to share ‘ASD in the Workplace’ with you!

“My favorite part of making that film was learning how to play disc golf. I never played before and I had a lot of fun learning and playing disc golf.” -Claire

Direct link:

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015 – Joey Travolta on the Today Show!

Joey Travolta – brother to film legend John Travolta – is sharing the limelight with kids and adults with special needs by putting them front and center in his workshop and its films.

To watch:

Thursday, August 6th, 2015 – Heather C.

Pittsburgh’s Joey Travolta Film Camp is an amazing two-week journey I’ve been lucky enough to participate in for five years now. This year, five days into camp, I realized that I had cried six times. That’s more than once a day. And, although I’m usually surprised to catch myself tearing up, I shouldn’t be. This camp has truly changed lives in ways I never could have imagined. Confidence is built, friendships are made, and children and young adults who have had difficulty socializing in the past are completely accepted by their peers and all of the staff.

Campers have several “firsts” here, like their first time dancing with their peers (dancing takes place every morning to get the creative juices flowing), their first time advocating for themselves, their first time successfully working as part of a team, or their first time making friends to whom they can truly relate. I am thrilled to watch these campers evolve over the course of the two weeks, or over the course of several summers for those campers who return year after year. I feel lucky to get to know each camper, talk to them about their interests, meet their families, and support their successes and their struggles as camp progresses.

The purpose in hosting the Joey Travolta Film Camp has always been to add a touch of light and positivity to the lives of our campers, while teaching skills for communication, collaboration, and independence; however, our staff returns year after year because the campers provide us with that same light and positivity and we just can’t get enough. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with such a talented and caring crew, and to spend my days with incredible campers who change my life and open my mind.

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015 – Jess C.

Film camp has been one of the coolest experiences I’ve had since I’ve been at Pitt. I had only ever heard about the Joey Travolta Film Camp a few times before I found out there was an available film camp internship through Pitt’s psychology department. I read the description and thought it sounded fun, so I signed up through my advisor. I really had no idea what to expect, and spent a lot of the summer wondering what I’d signed myself up for. On the first day of film camp, I quickly found out that I couldn’t have ever predicted what it was all about.

This is the opportunity I was waiting for: something to inspire me and to help me grow as a person. The hands-on experience I had at film camp is not something I could have ever gleaned from a classroom discussion or a lecture. I got to see what it could be like to put fifty individual and vastly different personalities in an environment together. Seeing all the kids work together and accept each other was such a great feeling. All the campers have such awesome attitudes, and are so willing to accept others for who they truly are.

I may have originally signed up for film camp to earn an internship credit for school, but I got so much more out of it than a line on my transcript. I learned a lot about myself, about the campers, and about working in an inclusive environment. I will absolutely be back next year, and look forward to another great two weeks!

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015 – Honor R.

This was my first time volunteering with Film Camp. I came in the first day thinking that I was just going to peek in, that I did not have time to volunteer more than one or two days. However by the time 10AM dance party rolled around on the first day the excitement was coming from all angles. I was all about it.

I spent most of my time with oldest group, made up of some who had never been to film camp before, and others who have have been around since the beginning, watching as the camp grew around them. The newcomers ranged from the most outgoing (and at your service) to the most reserved members of our “monster mashup” crew/family. The quiet newcomers were apprehensive at first, but were quickly able to be very much involved in the filmmaking process, acting and directing, with a surprising level of ease (JT camp magic?). The senior campers on the other hand walked around like they ran the place, chatting up the volunteers, putting their feet up, and upholding their own personal camp birthday traditions. Pretty much all you could hope for from a summer camp experience, but with more surprising people, and some very serious filmmaking.

Monday, August 3rd, 2015 – Alex C.

At the Joey Travolta film camp, both staff and campers learned a lot about filmmaking and made three short films in two weeks. After four years at camp, I still enjoy it and learn more every time!

I have made a lot of friends and some really good contacts. I can’t wait till next year!

Sunday, August 2nd, 2015 – Brennan M.

My experience with the Joey Travolta Film Camp has been enlightening. It is wonderful to see so many different groups of children and adults working together for a common purpose. I went into the visit day with an expectation to share whatever knowledge I have of film, but instead I learned from the campers.

I think it is a common misconception that people think they should treat people with autism with the sensitivity that you treat a child, but really what is necessary is to treat people as people. One of my first discussions of the day was with a camper my age who asked me what area of film I work in, what is the content of my films, and where online are they posted. I became nervous as I prepared my elevator speech of who I am as an artist. He then went on to reciprocate his own interests and then remarked how he had written a 400 page book about the war of 1812. Intimidation is the least that I could say about this particular encounter.

I am so pleased to see this type of inclusivity and that many of these campers then go on to be volunteers at the camp and others are hired by Joey and other members of his crew on film sets! I feel that more often than not you see the inclusivity end with the camp, but Joey Travolta’s film camp sets up real connections for the campers to follow into their adult lives.