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  • Apocalyptic Thanksgiving

On film and TV (Try saying that 3x fast)

This year, we’ve seen a tremendous surge in diversity in film and TV. Nothing like anyone I could’ve imagined - Special Needs, Asian in leads and the undead rising up. Oh my.





Holly and I were very fortunate to attend even a new film festival, Reel Abilities at Universal City Walk sponsored by AMC. It’s the Los Angeles chapter of Reel Abilities, a festival dedicated to those with disabilities.Congrats to Michael Dougherty and all the sponsors. Special Guest RJ Mitt from BREAKING BAD as well as other working actors with a disability appeared in a guest panel to discuss and educate everyone about the movement for more diversity on film and TV.


There was a delightful treasure trove of films such as PEANUT BUTTER FALCON from the SXSW Film Festival

A kid with Down Syndrome, Zak Gottsagen, teams up with a drifter, Shia LaBeouf. They go on an adventure to a Wrestling Camp. This sounds eerily similar to my movie, MY APOCALYPTIC THANKSGIVING




Or even ones that challenged the narrative and experiment and an actor with a disability as a romantic lead, FREAKS.






There were also some very talented up and coming filmmakers from the Easter Seals Disability Challenge

This provided a special education about humanization for those with disabilities.




Here are some other great movies that cinephiles should definitely check out.

LAST CHRISTMAS

"Last year, I almost died… ever since then I’ve been scared to do anything.” Emma Clark voices over the trailer. That’s all I need to hear. I can totally relate to this movie. Anyone who’s survived a serious car crash or a serious illness, can relate to this movie.



THE FAREWELL

Having almost died this year, this movie deeply moved me. If I could choose a way out,I would have loved to a large banquet to stuff myself surrounded by loved ones. What’s it like to be so close to death? One of my last regretful thoughts was, “I shouldn’t have had an extra helping of French Toast at the buffet.”

ATYPICAL and the GOOD DOCTOR are tv shows where someone with autism is the lead. I had pitched similar ideas, but was always advised that no one wants to watch a special needs adult as the main character. Go figure. More voices, more original stories can be told if people take a chance.

ZOMBIELAND DOUBLE TAP

the Undead rise again in the middle of the apocalypse. Time to kick ass and make people laugh. Comedy, action, and zombies.




THIS CLOSE

We were blessed to attend a Q&A with triple threat writer, director and actor, Shoshana Stern






DINA

Dina is an American documentary film directed by Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles, about Dina Buno and Scott Levin, both on the autism spectrum, getting married.

  • Apocalyptic Thanksgiving

Richard Soriano Kaiser ER

...And became a zombie.

Well, half of it’s true. If I had died, it would still be a mystery as if I were to become a zombie. January of this year is when I had a heart attack. I could barely breathe and I couldn’t stand up. But I was stubbornly resisting because we were supposed to leave the next morning for Las Vegas.




Our wedding cake fighting zombies at the apocalypse

My brother drove me to Urgent Care anyway. From Urgent Care, they called 911 where the ambulance drove me literally across the street to the Emergency Room. A thing about heart attacks is that they move you to first in line. They also keep checking on me to be sure that I was still alive. It felt like I was in one of those hospital TV shows.


So they did surgery on two days later to find out what was happening with me. An hour before surgery, I watched the movie CASTAWAY from Robert Zemeckis movie where Tom Hanks survives on an island and rots of loneliness. Will he be rescued? I was worried for him because I was alone in the pre-op room. No family and no phone because they said it was only going to

be a short while. I was in a large room full of strangers hidden behind curtains. You could tell their ages and emotional states just by the sound of their voices - anxiety, enjoyment, and spirituality.


If I were a zombie, this is how I imagined I'd be

At that moment, I realized that this could be the end of my life. This is it. My heart swelled with such gratitude and love, more than any other moment or birthday celebration in my life. I said a prayer asking God to take care of me. If it’s my time to go then he should take care of everyone in this room and everyone in my life. If I were to die, my wife Holly said that she would resurrect me to me kill me herself. Before I could finish the movie, the curtain swung wide open and I was whisked away to surgery. I never finished CAST AWAY, but here I am alive today.

I am so grateful this Thanksgiving weekend. More than you can imagine if you had another chance at life.

It must’ve been destiny that I met Kevin Smith this year. I had spent NY Evening at his comedy show at the Improv on Melrose. Every year I laugh with him at Hall H at ComiCon. He also had a heart attack the year before. And his was just like mine where there was blockage in his left anterior descending artery, aka ‘The Widow Maker’.










We coincidentally met at the Chinese Theater the day before his hands and feet would be immortalized into the cement. He was soaking in the moment. We briefly swapped stories and wished each other well. And we both hoped to meet Stan Lee in the big sky when it’s our time to go













Kevin Smith’s prints are set in cement right next to Stan’s and near Carrie Fisher’s. This is like a dream come true for Kevin. I also love that they all get to share that special distinction. Kevin Smith made a movie this year, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot. I also had a dream come true and am making my movie, My Apocalyptic Thanksgiving.






Thanks to everyone for reaching out this year while I was recovering both physically and emotionally.

It was harder emotionally more than physically I have so much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving: friends, family and realized dreams. Holly and I would’ve been heartbroken if we hadn’t finished this film. Thank you all again for your patience as we had to delay post

production due to a medical emergency. And yes, I have a doctor’s note to prove it!


#Thanksgiving #Thanksgiving2019 #HeartAttack #KevinSmith #ChineseTheater #CarrieFisher #MyApocalypticThanksgiving #Zombies

  • Apocalyptic Thanksgiving

Special Needs Adult as an anti-hero?

There has been a steep rise in anti-hero films and TV shows. They’re usually about a hero with a checkered past carrying out morally questionable tasks for a greater good. TV shows like “Breaking Bad” where a man, whose well of opportunities dried up, finds a new enterprise to apply his chemistry genius to become the Southwest’s most notorious meth maker and drug lord. We follow him because at his emotional core he began the journey to pay for his cancer treatment, help a high school dropout and take care of his family. It became a smash hit when the word ‘binge-watching’ came in vogue. There is a cultural fetish for the tainted super heroes such as Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Logan also known as Wolverine. Mad Max, Hannibal, Nurse Jackie and even the latest movie THE JOKER feature anti-heroes for their leads. Rumor has it that the Joker movie is s a grounded version of a pathetic, outcast who spirals into madness to become Batman’s greatest arch nemesis.


Most movies about special needs, or individuals with handicaps usually portray them as innocent well-intentioned angels that can do no wrong. FORREST GUMP, PEANUT THE BUTTER FALCON, PLEASE STAND BY, LIFE ANIMATED are all special needs films where they are capable of doing anything if someone just allowed them. It’s society would be better off if these individuals are more integrated like regular folks. We have good days and bad days. So do people with special needs. That’s why I wanted to take the risk to let Marcus to be an anti-hero. His unquenchable desire is to connect with a family. But he’s at risk of verbally and physically assaulting anyone in his way to achieve his goal.


Special needs adults have developmental disabilities. It means that they are intellectually and emotionally disabled from learning. Their emotions are as raw as children and their capacity to control them is minimized. As a result, their ability to harness their emotions is severely stunted. Like children, they throw a fit when they don’t get their way, but they are full grown adults that can cause a lot more harm. This is what prompts his caretaker Frank to say, “He’s got a child’s tantrum inside a giant’s body. You’re not safe.“


In the movie, LIFE ANIMATED, they cut short the scene where Owen doesn’t get his way and has a tantrum. PLEASE STAND BY is a film where there are several situations where Wendy should have thrown a fit. Whether it was crossing Market Street or having someone take advantage of her trusting nature, the writer or producers chose not to show this.


Showing their tantrums, I believe, only humanizes them. Think of all the movies where a character falls to their knees, raise their clenched fists in rage at God and scream at the top of their lungs in victory or in defeat. Raw emotions are portrayed when they punch a wall or slam their fist into the steering wheel. We all identify with them because we would probably act similar if that was us. There is even the occasional road rage where we lose control.

But there is a big danger in portraying too many flaws where the audience would lose sympathy and not care.


What if Wendy in PLEASE STAND BY hurt her dog, her sister or her even her new-born nice would we still follow her? The writer highlights this issue in a flashback where Wendy wishes to live with her sister Audrey. As for Audrey, she is terrified of Wendy living with her new-born child.


In developing the screenplay for My Apocalyptic Thanksgiving, this issue came up a few times. How far should we push it to the point that he’s unlikable character?

As the screenplay writer, I placed Marcus in precarious situations where he could easily get frustrated. His typical reactions are to slam his fist, get in your face, hallucinate or even worse. What if he hurt his caretakers Frank and Doris? What if he worked at the laundromat and hurt the Korean family? What if the gang taught him to hurt others for fun?


There was one instance where Marcus pushes Me Young in the shopping cart into traffic. She doesn’t get injured, but we felt that Me Young’s character would not forgive Marcus. He would unlikely be nonredeemable in her eyes since her journey is to learn to forgive. We wanted to make it a difficult one for her but not an unrealistic one to help take him on as her surrogate son.

And it would also make it even that much harder for Marcus to be accepted by a family. The audience may also question his true intentions if he were to be so violent. His would then be his own worst nightmare since he would give people reason to reject him



@2016 copyright by My Apocalyptic Thanksgiving LLC