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48HFP Touches The Lives Of Autistic Filmmaking TeamMonday, September 25, 2017


Even from the beginning, we've always known that the 48HFP is an event that brings people together for a sometimes life-changing event. We've heard many great stories throughout the years of people's overwhelmingly positive experiences that have come about from participating in the competition. But one of our favorite stories to date happened earlier this summer when we heard how the 48HFP had touched the lives of an all autistic filmmaking team from Madison, Wisconsin.

cclogoTeam Camp Creatability is made up of all individuals with autism, from a local nonprofit group by the same name. Camp Creatability is an arts and entertainment group for individuals with autism or other disabilities. Each camp or workshop culminates with producing a short film. The program started with only one summer camp 5 years ago and now has workshops throughout the year, several summer programs, and a training and vocational program. Camp Createability also hires individuals with autism through their vocational program.

Camp Creatability founder Debbie Armstrong had promised her Adult Employable Skills Program that they could enter a film festival this year. Armstrong entered her group in the 48HFP, but wasn't sure exactly how the project would unfold for the team, or if they'd even be able to complete their film in just 48 hours. Despite the short timeframe and the disabilities of the team members, Armstrong still had high expectations for the team.


"Having worked with individuals with autism for over 20 years I have learned how to alleviate many of the challenges that could arise before they do arise," she explained. "Many of the individuals like routine, schedules and knowing what to expect ahead of time. So we created realistic timelines and schedules that I knew they would be able to handle. Since many of them are easily excited and anxiety can escalate at a high rate we created as stress-free of an environment as possible."

For Camp Creatability that meant adhering to a strict schedule--the script needed to be complete by 10:30pm on Friday, shooting started at 9:30am Saturday and was done by 4:00pm, and editing began at 8:00am on Sunday. Armstrong set up multiple workstations for editing so no one individual was overtaxed. She credits this approach with helping to make the weekend a success.

While Camp Creatability participants have had experience screening their films at the camp, this was the first time they had a film appear in any film festival scenario alongside other films. The experience was not only gratifying, but also very exciting for the group. And to top it all off, the Camp Creatability film "My Life's Design" won the award for Best Use of Genre.

"It would not have mattered whether they received any acknowledgement or not, but winning best use of Genre put the frosting on the cake," Armstrong said. "To receive any award from the 48HFP is an amazing feat for any of the filmmakers, but for the participants of Camp Createability's team, they defied the odds of a population known for it's high unemployment rate and low expectations."

"My Life's Design" is a compelling short film that will continue to bring awareness about autism long after the competition. According to Armstrong, an estimated 80 percent of young people with autism are under or unemployed. "The personal achievements of Camp Createability participants are inspiring. They've overcome obstacles others don't have... but they also have many talents that others don't have."

Learn more about Camp Createability at or on Facebook at

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