Did you know that the 8th annual OUCARES Summer Film Camp took place in mid-August?
To end a long and productive summer, Joey Travolta brought his Inclusion Film Camp back to Oakland University for the 8th year. Joey and the crew spent ten weeks this summer on the road hosting inclusion film camps all over the country.
Joey was introduced to the autistic community when he mentored a young man with autism, Taylor Cross, when he did “Normal People Scare Me” which is a documentary about autism that Joey produced.
After the documentary was released, Joey was contacted about bringing his experience to children on the autism spectrum in Michigan.
“It all started with Oakland University,” Joey said. Back in 2005, Joey brought an inclusion film camp to OU, the first place outside of California.
An objective of the camp is to make a short film but it’s not the only objective.
“(Filmmaking) works as a tool for social skills and communication skills. It’s not about the film making it is more about the process.”
While many people on the autism spectrum struggle with socializing, the campers at Joey’s inclusion film camp meet like minded, creative individuals.
“All these kids make friends for life,” said Joey. “So many of them are now in their 8th year and they didn’t have friends before. They didn’t have play dates…they now have a social life.”
Dani Bowman, an eighteen year old animator with autism, returned to Oakland University for the second time to teach animation as well as the aspects of storytelling. Dani also employs those on the autism spectrum through her small animation company, Powerlight Studios, which she started when she was 11.
“I just want my students to become more successful like I am and they will find their own talents,” said Dani.
Dani is just one of many talented individuals with autism who Joey employs. He is skilled at discovering talent and nurturing that talent throughout his programs.
“You never know what will come out of their mouths,” said Travolta. Joey’s crew is skilled in turning those moments into humor for use in the film.
Travolta said that he is a pretty sarcastic person in a humorous way, not in a mean way. “I think after a couple weeks with me they get the sarcasm.”
Chris Travolta, Joey’s nephew, worked with the film camp for the first time this year.
“I had a wonderful time…and I learned a lot,” said Chris.
A handful of campers who have participated with the program for all 8 years are now 19, so they are too old to come back next year. Now it’s time for college and job searching.
“When you go out for a job interview you have to be able to tell a story about yourself and why it’s important that they hire you,” said Joey.
Joey hopes that by learning the film process, the campers gain life skills along the way that could assist them in finding employment and living independently.
“Storytelling is an important skill set to go out into the world with,” said Joey.