Ahead of the third edition of Melbourne WebFest, we are profiling all the official selections that will be screening 10-12 July at Deakin Edge.
Each episode looks at a different subject; dreams, work, love, loss and many more are explored throughout the series.
In 2009 Dennis began teaching audio & visual skills to people with developmental disabilities at the Developmental Disability Services Organization. Having spent years around individuals with down syndrome and seeing first hand its stigmatization in the community, Dennis became increasingly aware of the need to remind everyone that we are truly more alike than different.
When did you realise your students would benefit from these skills which are seen as ‘non-traditional’?
I had previously worked for this same non-profit, Developmental Disability Services Organization, years ago, but left to “make money in the corporate world.” While away, I got more and more into filmmaking and it just hit me one day to combine film and film training with those labeled disabled. So we did just that starting back in July 2009.
In episode four you said ‘we’re more the same than we’re not’; what motivated you to produce a web series that highlights these similarities?
It comes from years and years of working in this field and seeing the looks; the outright stares that many people I work with get from others. I felt it was and still is needed; to educate others through entertainment so they might someday acknowledge the similarities FIRST.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome making this series?
There truly have not been many challenges. The intent was and still is to keep it as live as possible. No rehearsals, no true prep – just lights up point camera, talk and record.
What’s special or different about your series?
Hopefully people, at least some people, are seeing it for what we would like it to be – a platform for discussion on acceptance.
Is your series an ongoing project? If so can you give us some clues about what comes next?
We hope to let it run a natural course to an eventual end. We are currently in Post on episode 6 (the Season Finale). It was shot during the 2015 LAWebfest. We felt this would be a perfect backdrop to end the first season (and that was before we ever saw awards coming our way). Season Two, ep. 1 – came about in me listening in to a conversation the Sunday of the LAWebfest between Richard and Scott and my Co-Producer Robert. They were having a conversation about Military Service. At One point, Scott turned to me and simply asked, “Dennis, why can’t people with Down Syndrome serve in the Military.” Light bulb went off and that will be Episode 201 to be shot, we hope, in the next few weeks.
Are there any web series, other than your own that inspire you?
It all started with us when another local Sacramento guy started his first series, Rick Gotts “Dark Pool.” I had never seen this type of entertainment forum and instantly became sold on the format. It was from his series, that we launched ours and many more since.
Have you achieved the goals you set for this series?
Not yet. It’s an on-going process – educating (without hopeful preaching) The message of Acceptance.
Gettin’ Down on the web:
Keep up to date with Melbourne Web Fest on twitter: @MelbWebFest.
La Trobe University is Melbourne WebFest’s exclusive learning partner.