BE SAFE The Movie – Interview with Emily Iland

Be Safe

image courtesy of @Emily Iland MA

Did you write the script?

“I wrote the script for BE SAFE The Movie. Each movie episode teaches a specific safety skill (stay where you are, let the police see your empty hands, cooperate, tell the police about your autism) with the goal of preventing tragedies like the ones on the news.”

Who are the team behind Be Safe the Movie?

“BE SAFE is a passion project. I funded the movie myself, and then spent months writing more than 300 pages of teaching materials to go along with the Movie (which I then translated into Spanish with the help of many dedicated friends!)
On the production side, BE SAFE was made by and for young adults with autism and other disabilities who worked behind the scenes and in front of the camera. Joey Travolta of Inclusion Films is my co-executive director.”

Joey Travolta who is also an actor previously worked as a special education teacher. Inclusion Films is a workshop that teaches young adults with ASD and other disabilities, the skills that they need to work in the film industry. Joey became interested in BE SAFE from the very beginning, but it took five years to do the project.

Can you describe the process making BE SAFE The Movie? Who was involved?

“BE SAFE is a small independent educational film. Video modelling is the ideal teaching tool to show teens/adults specific, positive models of what to do in different encounters with police. I wrote the script, picked a producer, pitched the project, gave them a budget and left it in Inclusion Films’ capable hands until it was time to shoot! Dale Oprandy and his team designed the sets, cast the parts, rehearsed the scenes, and planned how to film each episode.

Active duty Bakersfiled CA Police and paramedics agreed to act in the film. They interacted with Inclusion Films actors with a range disabilities, which gives the movie great authenticity.

October 9, 2014 Mission Possible with the Los Angeles Police Department and the Autism Society of Los Angeles: image courtesy of Emily Iland MA

Be Safe October 9, 2014 Mission Possible with the Los Angeles Police Department and the Autism Society of Los Angeles: mage courtesy of @Emily Iland MA

Joey Travolta and I held auditions for the role of the movie narrator. The young woman we chose, Tori Fritz, is the sister of a man with special needs. When I asked her why she was so clear in delivering her lines, she said she just pictured herself explaining the information to her brother.”

Emily then went on to tell us about hr new event, BE SAFE Interactive Screening that was briefly mentioned at the beginning of the article. These events bring together local police and the autism/disability community.

“They watch scenes from the movie, build safety skills, form relationships and learn from one another. Different organizations bring me in to do the event. I contact police in the area and ask them to participate, and the response has been marvellous.”

Emily told us that the screenings have been incredibly positive for all involved and Emily would dearly love to bring this program to every state in the country as well as abroad. More information can be found on the BE SAFE website.

Emily informed us that Chief Nathan Springer of the Portland Police Department wrote a thank you note after the BE SAFE Interactive Screening on March 10;

“Thank you for making this event happen. I really enjoyed it and felt like it was very beneficial. I have spoken to several of the officers that were at the training and all of them felt the same way. The Portland Police Department would be open to more training with all of you in the future. It would be nice to have a yearly event of fellowship. I know we have [another local event], but last night was more one on one. It was also nice meeting with parents. Thank you, if you have any future ideas, or events that the police department can help with (or learn from) please contact us.”

Sgt. Joshua L. Stephenson of the Portland Police Department also wrote to Emily saying:

“We as police officers normally do not get this type of hands-on experience with those with Autism let alone anyone with any type of disability. I can truly see how this type of training is beneficial not only to us as police officers but also those with special needs.”

What stories have you heard from other parents?

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