Danville Express

Newsfront - July 20, 2007

Autistic kids get creative at film camp

Director combines special ed and filmmaking interests

by Jordan M. Doronila

Autistic children from Danville and San Ramon stirred their creative juices at Joey Travolta's film camp in Moraga last week.

Travolta, brother of actor John Travolta, held his two-week Autistic Spectrum Disorders Inclusive Film Camp at St. Mary's College from July 2-13. Around 30 youths, ages 8-17, took part, from Danville, San Ramon, Oakley, El Cerrito, Moraga, Lafayette, Walnut Creek and Concord.

"I had a really good time," said Madison Condon, a Danville resident who was one of the young participants. "I had experience acting before."

"It's been great here," said Kelly Condon, Madison's brother. "It's very nice. You get to do commercial and music videos."

"We got to make friends," added Jessica McLauran, of San Ramon.

Over a period of two weeks, Travolta and his crew taught the youngsters about budgeting, scriptwriting, camera operation, blocking, acting and music production. Camp participants got to collaborate with each other and create their own video project, which was then screened before a live audience at the end of the camp.

"The process is powerful for all involved, and can be shared in a way that would move and entertain the entire community in the East Bay," Travolta said. "I have discovered that the film camp experience provides these and other children with an inclusive, collaborative, and often life-changing experience."

Travolta runs a series of filmmaking camps for autistic children around the country. He began them a few years ago when a mother of a boy with autism wanted to know how to make a film about being autistic. He agreed to mentor her son.

"Helping one boy use video to communicate his first-hand perspective on being autistic brought two of my own lifelong passions together: working with children with disabilities as a former special education teacher and filmmaking," said Travolta.

Contact Jordan M. Doronila at jdoronila@DanvilleWeekly.com


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