Portland, Oregon, 7 ON THE SPECTRUM – is a film documentary in the making. This ambitious, uplifting and thought provoking documentary series aims to share the lives of 7 families, all of whom care for a 7 year old child on the autistic spectrum. A new film about these families will be made every 7 years.
This is part 2 of our interview with Geoff Todd, part 1 can be found here.
How did you get in touch with the children and families involved in the film?
It was a combination of networking within our local Autism community here in Portland, Oregon and using social media to spread the news. I think we also did a post on Craigslist but once news of our effort started to spread, parents were anxious to have their children featured in the series. We did have strict criteria for the families; this wasn’t a film about politics, we weren’t going to be discussing controversial issues, and each family had to be working with the diagnosis and not trying to fight or cure it. We found each family quickly and they all signed on knowing that they are never obligated to appear in future films but they will always have the opportunity to appear. Always.
What previous films have you made? Is this project completely different?
I’ve been involved with film since I skipped school and wondered onto the set of DRUGSTORE COWBOY in the late 80s. I was always obsessed with studying film and the mechanics of a production. I’ve been writing about film for some time and got to know people like John Carpenter (HALLOWEEN) who encouraged me to pick up a camera but it wasn’t until I had the chance to work on a documentary film called THAT GUY DICK MILLER with director Elijah Drenner that I started thinking about how to launch my own projects. That project lead to the opportunity to produce a making of documentary for the GREMLINS 30th Anniversary called GIZMO TO GREMLINS: CREATING THE CREATURES. Then I had a project I was working on with my producing partner H. Perry Horton (who’s also working with me on this film) that Cassandra Peterson (aka Elvira) was involved in but that didn’t pan out, and I am glad it didn’t because it brought me to this lifelong adventure with seven remarkable kids and seven amazing families. This series means everything to me. There would a tremendous void in my soul had I not found this project.
I truly feel like film can change the world. I think both feature films and documentary films can be equally effective in conveying truth in humanity which opens eyes and allows viewers to see the world anew. While all film productions are built around trust in the director and producers, a documentary film is rendered useless if the subjects don’t trust the person in charge of the production. The subjects have to trust that I am going to communicate the intense truths of their lives in a way that respects their children and values which is why we’re operating in a very transparent manner with each family and even have a board we’re assembling of professionals and adults with Autism to help guide our project.
You go into a project like this knowing themes you want to explore but I think it would be a mistake and disservice to the series to pretend we’re God and start filming with the idea that this family is going to be the cranky ones and this is going to be the funny family, and so on. A life on the Autism Spectrum is a story machine.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Our mission with this film isn’t to explore the history of Autism or to debate hot button issues within our community; it’s to educate the world on life itself for seven children who experience Autism. We have a unique opportunity with this film series to communicate what it’s like to live a life on the spectrum. I know I have an extreme bias in talking about this series, but I think this is the most important film project in production today, the first film series of its kind in our community, and you have a unique opportunity to be a part of it. I hope you will join me in supporting this effort.
Together we can change the world.
The first film in this lifelong series will be released in late 2015 with a new film to follow every 7 years.
7 ON THE SPECTRUM (2015) 7 amazing kids each diagnosed with Autism. 7 incredible families. 7lifetimes that will change the world