PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — At a movie shoot at Wilkins School Community Center, Hester Wagner’s cast and crew are made up of Pittsburgh area kids with autism.
“I’m just helping them to take all of the imagination and stuff that they have already within them and bring it out,” Wagner said.
Actor and teacher Joey Travolta – brother of John Travolta – knows all about Hollywood. He travels cross country for the non-profit Autism Care and Treatment or ACT.
“Because they’re usually left on the sidelines. They’re not included,” he said. “So, here they’re included, and here, together as a group, they make something and it’s something that they have and can carry for the rest of their lives with them.”
By the time these kids are finished, they will have three short films. And those films will go into a documentary called “Thirty Minutes Tonight.”
The young filmmakers are treated with respect.
“They don’t treat you like you have autism. They treat you like you’re a normal person which is how you should be treated,” Elana Slesnick, an actress, said.
“It’s also given me some clarity on being flexible and not always having things your way,” said actor Aaron Burke.
And so doing, they become more comfortable with who they are.
“I’m kind of thankful that I have autism because I’m different,” Matt Black, assistant director, said. “And I like being different. I don’t want to be the normal everyday kid that goes and plays on his Gameboy. I want to be the photographer that I am. I want to be the individual.”