IMG_7472, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from chekhter’s photostream

Pittsburgh may be the new Hollywood, but for two weeks in July it was kids in front of and behind the camera here. Inclusion Films is Joey Travolta’s network of programs supporting individuals with special needs. Before Travolta (brother to John) made his way in Hollywood, he was a special education teacher in New Jersey. Now he runs practical film workshops for adults and children with developmental disabilities. Last month, he was here in Pittsburgh running the Joey Travolta Film Camp at the Wilkins School Community Center in Swissvale.

Lights, Camera, Action!, Courtesy of Joey Travolta Film Camp, Pittsburgh Facebook page

The camp is inclusive and was specifically designed to “address social, communication, executive function, transition and vocational goals.” The students in the film camp were children and young adults on the Autism Spectrum.

The filmmaking process is a collaborative venture which emphasizes teamwork and sharpens social skills. Participants got to learn from California professionals how create a short film from start to finish. Everything from accounting to artwork to writing to production to editing to directing, filming and acting was part of the process they got a chance to experience. Best of all, as Travolta says in the video below, participants had the opportunity not just to interact with others in a safe, positive and fun environment, but were able to see the tangible results of their efforts. The film they created will also become part of a documentary.

The program was funded partially through a CMS Medicaid Infrastructure Grant and was also underwritten by CKHare Consulting and numerous community sponsors. KDKA News covered the film camp and you can view their story here. The following video is from a documentary about a similar filmmaking camp by Travolta which took place in Jacksonville, Florida. There, the kids made PSAs about autism.