STRETCH GOAL: $15,000!
We've reached our funding goal in just 8 days! All of the support has been amazing, so we're stretching our campaign to $15,000! What will we do with that extra $5,000? Every dollar donated above the original goal will go directly to distribution. This means that we can set up our own public screenings around the country, and even more people will be able to see the film. The more people who learn about adults with autism, the better!
As Brian’s sister, this film is close to my heart. I followed Brian through his difficult transition into adulthood with my camera. At first, I was able to translate for Brian when no one else could understand his speech. I helped him learn his new environment. I believe I provided a source of comfort for him, as I was often the only familiar face in the room.
Brian and I were never very close growing up, mostly due to the challenges of Brian’s autistic behavior. This film has brought us much closer together. I expected this film to be difficult to make, but what I didn’t expect was to finally begin breaching the barrier of autism between us. I see a personality in Brian so clearly now. Beneath his disability, Brian is utterly human. He gets frustrated when people talk about him like he isn’t in the room. He thrives on intimate hugs and human touch. This film will reintroduce the personal element of this disability, an aspect often forgotten in mainstream media about autism. I want the audience to see Brian how I see him: human, just like the rest of us.
BRIAN opens on the scene of a high school graduation. Students adorning blue robes are crowded into a room. There’s something different about this graduation, though. Many of the students are yelling, and some need help putting on their robes. We see one student, Brian, who looks bewildered into the camera as a young woman fixes his cap. She asks him if he is alright. He absently repeats, “Alright.”
BRIAN tells the story of a severely autistic young man, facing the challenges of entering into the adult world after his “high school” graduation. Because of state policy, Brian is forced out of the education system after his 21st birthday. Now officially an “adult,” Brian moves from his residential school to his new home. His family worries that without the day to day structure of education Brian will regress to his previous violent behaviors. To combat this fear, Brian’s parents enrolled him in a newly formed program designed specifically for adults with autism. He is the first to participate in this program, as services for adults with autism are scarce in the state of Maryland.
The film is shot from the unique perspective of Brian’s sister, me, frequently breaching the wall between subject and documentarian. I, the filmmaker, explore Brian’s new life alongside him, rejecting the societal convention that Brian must work and assimilate in order to be a productive member of society. The film, instead, seeks to understand Brian’s personality beneath his disability. What does Brian want out of life, and how can that be achieved? How does someone with a disability as severe as Brian’s function in this world? What can he contribute to society? The documentary BRIAN attempts to answer these questions through the intimate lens of sibling relationship.
How Your Donation Helps
This is an independent film - probably as “independent” as it gets. This documentary has been exclusively self-funded for the past year. This film is a deeply personal passion project, and I want to see it done right. With your help, I can reach my $10,000 goal to continue shooting this summer and produce a polished, professional feature length film. Any additional funds raised will go directly towards the distribution of the film.
Camera equipment, crew stipends, and post-production make up the largest portions of the budget. I am fortunate to have the resources of Emerson College at my disposal, but there are still many post-production costs ahead. The money raised will go towards hiring a sound mixer, a composer, and an assistant editor. It will also help fund tangible necessities like hard drives and software programs.
After completion, I hope to distribute the film to a number of notable film festivals. I also want to hold a free public screening in Maryland for the subjects of the film and the autism community that helped make this film possible. Festival entry fees and advertising costs will quickly add up.
Your donations will be taken seriously. Every cent donated will go directly to the film. If we don’t reach the $10,000 goal, no donations will be received.
Other Ways to Contribute
If you aren’t able to donate, you can help by sharing the project with your friends and family. Small donations add up quickly! Post a link to this Kickstarter page on your Facebook or Twitter and encourage the people you know to donate. Help spread the word and we can reach our goal.
To learn more about the people behind this project, click on the links below. Each one of our team members believes in this project and has dedicated time and resources to the film out of their passion for this story.
Heather Cassano- Producer, Director, Editor
Sean Dolan - Assistant Editor
Al Drago - Still Photographer, Second Shooter
Risks and challenges
This will be my first feature length documentary, and it is a huge undertaking! Editing is the most cost-prohibitive part of this process. Our team has already collected 60+ hours of footage, and plans to continue shooting this summer. With a history of successful short films under my belt and an incredible passion for this story, I can craft this narrative from the hours of observational footage. Making this film could be the most difficult thing I’ve had to do yet, but also the most rewarding. I’m humbled that you all are willing to support me.
Distributing this film will also present a challenge. There are many films about autism out there, but this one is unique. With help from this Kickstarter campaign, I want to reach audiences who are unfamiliar with autism. Bringing Brian’s lovable personality to the screen will diversify cinematic representations of autism and promote a better understanding of the disability. It is my hope that we can learn from our differences.
I have high hopes for this film, and I thank you all for taking the time to visit this campaign page. I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without all of your love and support.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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