Easterseals Disability Film Challenge to Provide An Opportunity for Filmmakers

March 8, 2017

Easterseals, the nation’s largest disability services organization, has joined forces with the Disability Film Challenge to provide filmmakers, actors, and other creators–with and without disabilities–the opportunity to create short films that tell diverse and underrepresented stories while receiving opportunities to network with Hollywood professionals. The weekend-long contest takes place April 21-23, 2017 and registration is now open.

Through the newly renamed Easterseals Disability Film Challenge (www.disabilityfilmchallenge.com), sponsored by Dell and SAG-AFTRA, aspiring storytellers register to creatively write, produce and complete a short film over a weekend span of 55 hours. Challenge winners receive invaluable access to entertainment professionals, opening the door to a traditionally hard-to-crack industry. Additionally, the winner of Best Film will receive a Dell mobile workstation, and the winner of best filmmaker and best actor will receive Dell 2-in-1 computers.

“We are thrilled to be collaborating with challenge founder Nic Novicki on this year’s Easterseals Disability Film Challenge” said Mark Whitley, CEO, Easterseals Southern California. “Nic has built the Challenge to be a premier annual event showcasing the power of diversity. At Easterseals we work to change the way the world defines and views disability, and through this partnership, we hope to continue Nic’s vision of encouraging and highlighting the tremendous talent and stories that exist within our community.”

“People with disabilities are vastly underrepresented in the entertainment industry, both in front of and behind the camera,” said Nic Novicki, founder, Disability Film Challenge. “While more than 18% of Americans have disabilities, only 2.4% of all speaking characters were depicted with a disability in the top 100 films of 2015 — this challenge seeks to change those statistics,” said Novicki.

Regular registration submissions ($45) will run until Sunday, April 9, and late registration submissions ($60) will take place from Wednesday, April 10 until Wednesday, April 19. Full registration instructions are available online at www.disabilityfilmchallenge.com.

Contest entrants will then have the opportunity to promote their films for a week at the end of April before the finalists and winners are announced.
Filmmakers will also have access to mentors well-versed in the industry and provide feedback where requested. This year’s mentors will include veteran writer/producer Scott Silveri (Speechless, Friends, Joey, Grinder); and famed casting director Pam Dixon (City Slickers, The Green Lantern). Previous mentors have included director/screenwriter/producer and novelist Peter Farrelly (There’s Something about Mary, Dumb & Dumber), writer/producer Shawn Ryan (The Shield) and casting director Pam Dixon, among others. Additional mentors for the 2017 challenge to be announced in the coming weeks.

Since the challenge launched, aspiring filmmakers from around the world have created more than 150 films which have been viewed online and at festivals including the HollyShorts Film Festival. Winners have included Dickie Hearts, a winner of the best filmmaker award in 2015 who went on to win an HBO Project Greenlight digital series competition, Jenna Kanell, the winner of the best film award in 2015 who went on to give a TED talk about her experience and David Harrell, the winner of the best film award in 2016, who won Best Actor at the Focus on Ability Festival.