Ar­ti­sans with dis­abil­i­ties say they are of­ten over­looked for pro­duc­tion jobs in Hol­ly­wood

Rather than im­pede the pro­duc­tion process, th­ese work­ers can rise to any chal­lenge and help move things for­ward

Variety - - Contents - Story by TIM GRAY

HOL­LY­WOOD, AIM­ING FOR MORE di­ver­sity, hopes in­clu­sion rid­ers will help broaden the com­po­si­tion of be­hind-the- cam­era crews. But so far, peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties — who com­prise nearly 20% of the pop­u­la­tion — have been left out of the con­ver­sa­tion.

David Shore, cre­ator of Sony TV-ABC’S “The Good Doc­tor,” is one of the few ex­ecs who has been scrupu­lous about giv­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties be­hind the scenes. “Th­ese peo­ple are in­cred­i­bly un­der­rep­re­sented in films and TV,” he says. “It’s im­por­tant to have char­ac­ters like this on-screen, but it would be hyp­o­crit­i­cal to put them in front of the cam­era and not be­hind. They’re ca­pa­ble of so much, and we should make it pos­si­ble.”

Though sta­tis­tics on be­low-the-line hir­ing are shock­ingly low, some in­di­vid­u­als are prov­ing that the prac­tice is suc­cess­ful.

James Cude has been work­ing as an edi­tor for 18 years, on se­ries in­clud­ing MTV’S “Sus­pect” and Syfy’s “Cos­play Melee” and “Haunted High­way,” among oth­ers. Since he was a teenager, he’s had sen­sorineu­ral hear­ing loss, of­ten caused by dam­age to the in­ner ear. “Peo­ple don’t think of an edi­tor as some­one who’s hard of hear­ing,” says Cude. “But I can hear enough sounds. For the rest, I have a lot of tech­niques I’ve learned over the years, plus some re­ally good tech­ni­cal tools that al­low me to do my job.”

Those tools in­clude au­dio streaming from com­puter to hear­ing aids (for di­a­logue), wave forms (for mu­sic) and au­to­matic on­line tran­scrip­tions. “There are some things I can do bet­ter than most peo­ple, some worse,” he says sim­ply. “But that’s true of ev­ery­one. It bal­ances out.” And he’s been con­sis­tently get­ting work, with­out an agent, via word of mouth.

Since 2007, Joey Tra­volta and his In­clu­sion Films have been of­fer­ing train­ing for in­di­vid­u­als with de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties, who learn by work­ing with be­low-the-line pros. The or­ga­ni­za­tion also helps them find work. This sum­mer, Tra­volta placed five PAS on the indie film “The Poi­son Rose,” star­ring brother John Tra­volta, Bren­dan Fraser and Mor­gan Free­man.

Able Castillo, one of the four In­clu­sion Films mem­bers on the autism spec­trum, did so well in the cam­era depart­ment he was bumped up to video vil­lage. Marissa Erick-

Work­ing Model John Tra­volta (cen­ter) joins “Poi­son Rose” crew mem­bers Able Castillo, Jeff Ger­ard, Marissa Erickson, Jackson Brue­heim and Larry Glenn. At right: Jo O’meara.

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