HIGH POINT, N.C. — At The Arc of High Point, staff members aim to empower the people they serve to become as independent as possible. This year, that mission has set them on a journey to create something else independent: a film.
“We all started to realize there’s no one using people with disabilities for real work in the media,” said Alicia Kellum, program coordinator for Wild & Free at The Arc of High Point. “We just kind of started to get a little angry about it to be honest.”
Kellum says The Arc is all about choice, responsibility and rights. Through that vision, they came up with a novel idea.
“We just decided, what would it look like if we created the narrative,” she said. “If we wrote the dialogue, if we wrote the story.”
The early stages were challenging, with some participants struggling to grasp they were being tasked with creating original characters and storylines. However, it wasn’t long before they were off and writing.
“I want you to create a character out of your own mind, that no one’s ever thought of before or heard of before,” Kellum explained. “Once that clicked, it started going and going.”
The group put some of their favorite ideas on a whiteboard and soon decided which were their favorites. Ultimately, they landed on a comedy, with superheroes, in 1997 at a Buffalo Wild Wings in New York City.
“The majority of people wanted it to be a comedy, so we’re like, ‘alright, it’s gonna be a comedy,’” Kellum said. “Then some people wanted action and romance so we’re like, ‘we can throw that in there.'”
“My character’s name is Swift, and she can transform into food, and she gets a little sassy with the store manager because they want to go try and buy a bazooka,” said Natalie Haynes, one of the writers.
When the storyline started taking shape, Kellum decided it was too good not to share, so she contacted a friend who works as a screenwriter in Los Angeles.
“He’s like, ‘well, you’ve got to make a movie,’ after he read everything, and I just didn’t say no,” she said.
Next, they needed to find an animator, who also said, “yes.”
Soon, many of the participants were voicing their own lines, with a videographer documenting their day-to-day.
“He fights because he doesn’t know any better,” said Eugene Mihai, whose character Nicholas’ superpower is walking backward. “He says, ‘oh I can fight, I can do whatever I wanna do.'”
With the story written and titled “Hot Wing Redemption,” The Arc created a teaser, which was the first step of what became a crowdfunding campaign.
“It’s a good interpretation of what people with disabilities can do,” Haynes said.
To get the movie made, at this point, they need to raise $18,000. Their campaign began last Friday.
“They are hilarious,” Kellum said, of the writers. “They are so funny, so unique and so creative.”
If successful, they plan to submit the film to festivals before releasing it to the public.
To view the teaser, click here.
To donate, click here.