Three Aussie creatives have been selected for ABC and Screen Australia’s DisRupted program, with each receiving funding to make a short film that reflects what it’s like to live with a disability from a child’s point-of-view.
The finalists received up to US$70,000 (AUD$100,000) to make the films, which are roughly 20-minutes long and targeted to eight- to 12-year-olds. ABC Children’s execs Jan Stradling, Anna Allbury and Natalie Robinson-Hurst, as well as Screen Australia’s Ester Harding will provide creative support to the filmmakers.
The films will debut on December 3, the International Day of People with Disabilities, on free-to-air kids channel ABC ME and the ABC ME app.
First up, Rocky and Me, co-created by Johanna Garvin and Holly Lyons and produced by Australia’s CJZ, focuses on an 11-year-old girl named Stella who gets her first wheelchair. Stella names the wheelchair Rocky, and with it she gets her first taste of independence. The story is based on Garvin’s life.
From co-creators Keiran Watson-Bonnice and Eliza Hull, And Then Something Changed sees an eight-year-old boy named Louis, who lives with achondroplasia, which is a form of dwarfism, navigate a world that isn’t built for him.
Finally, The Legend of Burnout Barry tells the story of one teenager becomes so obsessed with being a record holder that he risks losing his friends and his life. Created by Nicholas Colla and Nicolette Minster, from an original idea by Isaac Elliot, the film is produced by Australia’s LateNite Films.
DisRupted was first unveiled in October 2018 in an bid to improve the under-representation of people living with disabilities in the media landscape.
The issue is also prevalent in North American content where characters with obvious physical disabilities, are almost completely absent among human characters—1% in the US, and 0% in Canada, according to a report released in April on representation in media. In addition, no human character from either sample was shown to have an obvious serious chronic illness. The report stresses the importance of portraying physical disabilities as part of normal life given that nearly 20% of the US population lives with a disability, according to the World Health Organization.