Path Home Shows 2015 Show Archive October 2015 Show 1543 Joey Travolta - Autistic Film Project

Joey Travolta - Autistic Film Project

Joey Travolta’s early career as a special education teacher led him to teaching film production to adults with developmental disabilities.
Joey Travolta - Autistic Film Project

Joey Travolta - Autistic Film Project

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Inclusion Films

Americans with Disabilities Act

Show Details

Show 1543: Joey Travolta - Autistic Film Project
Air Date: October 25, 2015



Rob McClendon: Well, Joey Travolta is best known as the older brother of Hollywood legend John Travolta, but a star in his own right. After working as a special education teacher, the older Travolta decided to try his hand at performing. Now, Travolta started off his Hollywood career as a singer, recording the hit single “I Don't Wanna Go."

[Singing: Just no place to hide and I don’t wanna go but I can’t stay here no more. I don’t wanna go, I don’t wanna go. I don’t wanna.]

Rob: Travolta then made his leap to feature films, but today has come full circle teaching filmmaking to students with special needs, and I was able to visit with him in Norman, Oklahoma, at the screening of his latest film.

Joey Travolta: I’m, I’m doing now what I was meant to do. When I tell my wife, cause after, you know, a long career as a actor, filmmaker, director, you know, I, I’m back into the field of special needs, I tell my wife I wish this would have happened, you know, 25 years ago. And she said, “You wouldn’t have been ready for it 25 years ago.” So she was right because everything that I, I learned filmmaking from being behind the camera. I didn’t go to school for it. I learned the acting from being around my family. I learned the production through being, you know, on the sets as an actor wanting to know what everybody did, and that feeling that you got when together as a group you made content.

Rob McClendon: Which is what Inclusion Films is all about. Travolta works with adults with developmental disabilities to give them an entry-level working-knowledge of film production.

Travolta: We created our own production company, and now when people are seeing the content that we’re making, and then they find out who is involved with making it.

Rob: They are often surprised, but not Travolta.

Travolta: Filmmaking is the ultimate collaboration, the process of making a film gives you what we call soft skills. When they’re finished with the program, they’re learning communication, they’re learning to work as a team, and those can be applicable any place that you go to work.

Female Voice: His last name makes him Hollywood royalty. But it’s his heart that may well make Joey Travolta a legend.

Travolta: This summer we’re taking an intern from each one of the workshops and bringing them on the road with us to the film camps.

Male Voice: Quiet on the set.

Rob: Moving beyond the classroom and offering students real-world experiences.

Travolta: The training part we have down. The employment part we’re getting there on, but the employment part is now becoming a part of Inclusion Films, because we hire from within. So we train them, we keep them, or we open a new place. You know one of the things we’re working on is our guys going out into the school system and teaching. I mean we did a camp this year, half my staff were, had disabilities, and they were doing camera, and they were doing the lighting, and they were doing sound, and they were, you know they were an integral part of that. So they can go out and teach it too.

Rob: Like Elliot Cole Schneider, a 22-year-old filmmaker, writer and aspiring comedian. The first question is my hard one. Can you say your name and spell it for me where we get it right on the bottom of the screen?

Elliot Cole Schneider: Oh, man! I didn’t know it would be a spelling bee.

Rob: All with autism.

Schneider: Social skills are like a muscle where if you don’t use them, they stay weak, but the more you use them, the stronger they get. And on the road I was using my social skills with kids, I was using it with the other staff, with people I met on the street. And so I was, you know, using that muscle. And it’s, you know, it’s the independence, you know. And I learned that I could do things, that I was fully capable. When I didn’t, I, you know, I didn’t believe in myself, but on the road everyone believed in me and showed me I can believe in myself.

Rob: Starting with Joey Travolta.

Travolta: I was always for the underdog. That’s the way my father was.

Schneider: A lot of people think that people with developmental disabilities can’t do things. This movie will show exactly what we’re capable of, that we can, the amazing things that we can do if we’re just given the chance. And you know society doesn’t give us a chance. But if more people gave us a chance, you could see how amazing we can do, and not only that but it can inspire you, inspire you to be your best as well.

Rob: You turn 65 tomorrow.

Travolta: Yes!

Rob: Are you still learning things?

Travolta: You learn something every day. There’s nothing you can’t overcome. You know if you’re going to make a mistake, if you’re going to make a mistake, make a mistake with me because I understand, and I can teach you how to correct a mistake.

Rob: Yeah, final words of wisdom for anyone that’s seeing this.

Travolta: We’re all people. We’re all individuals. You’ve got to give people a chance. You’ve got to give people an opportunity because when you give them an opportunity, you know, you never know what’s going to happen. And it should be, it should be what we do as human beings.

Rob: Now, Travolta was in Oklahoma to speak to the 10th annual Oklahoma Transitions Institute, a group that helps individuals with disabilities transition from school to work.

Rob: Kim Osmani is with Oklahoma’s Department of Rehabilitation Services.

Kim Osmani: The goal of OTI is really to bring together anybody who works with or has children with disabilities, to help them really start thinking about preparing for life after high school.

Rob: Osmani says federal law puts a huge emphasis now on helping students with disabilities find competitive and integrated employment.