Neurodivergent Film Students At Red Carpet Premiere

Campus hosted film production camp over the summer

November 23, 2022
A film student walks down the red carpet during a film premiere event held at Touro University.
Film student Nicole Miller-Fisher walks down the red carpet during a film premiere event held at Touro University.

From limousines, the red carpet, the photographers, and all the glam, the Inclusion Film Camp Red Carpet Premiere had all the trappings of any other Hollywood gala.

The only difference was the stars on the red carpet at this event, which was hosted by Solano County Office of Education (SCOE), were neurodivergent student filmmakers from across the county.

SCOE hosted a film camp this summer at Touro University California (TUC), which was directed by Inclusion Films, where the students spent two weeks learning about the filmmaking process, including screenwriting to acting, lighting, editing, special effects, sound engineering and more.

The campers all returned to TUC’s Lander Hall for the premiere of three short films, written, acted in, and directed by the students. The filmmakers arrived in style to a red carpet welcome and wowed parents, care providers and others with tuxedos, fancy hairdos, and Oscar-worthy ballgowns.

Camp director Joey Travolta, the brother of John, organizes similar camps across the country for film students with developmental disabilities, was excited to see the students have their moment in the spotlight.

“We used the whole campus this summer, so to come back and to be inside this beautiful theatre, and to see the kids all dressed up is very special,” Travolta said.

Solano’s Superintendent of Schools, Lisette Estrella-Henderson, visited the camp over the summer and was happy to be able to return to see the finished product.

“It’s an absolute thrill to be here,” remarked Estrella-Henderson. “It’s a thrill to see the participants see the end result of all their hard work, and now, tonight, they get to be recognized as the superstars they’ve always been.”

For TUC Provost and CEO, Dr. Sarah Sweitzer, it was a privilege to host the campers over the summer and to welcome them back for the premiere.

“It’s an amazing opportunity for Touro to partner with SCOE,” Dr. Sweitzer said. “We support all of our community partners who give the entire community and opportunity to shine and pursue their dreams.”

And shine they did.

Two weeks is a short timeframe to conceive of a film concept, pitch it, rehearse lines and shoot scenes in different locations across campus. The audience all laughed, cried, and cheered at the appropriate times throughout each of the three roughly 10-minute films.

The camp wasn’t simply about a fun summer activity for the students. SCOE and Inclusion Films have it as their goal to develop job skills in the students, from teamwork to communication, organization, and even frustration.

Those efforts paid off, as one student said in a short speech before the premiere started.

Nicole Miller-Fisher, a first-year camper and aspiring animator, said the experience helped encourage her to start college courses in Cinema Studies and Animation.

“It has always been my dream to work in the filmmaking industry,” Miller-Fisher said. “This entire experience has been a dream come true.”