SPELLERS challenges conventional wisdom regarding a group relegated to society’s margins: nonspeakers with autism, who most “experts” believe are cognitively disabled.
As the film opening asks, “What if we’ve been wrong…about every single one of them?” SPELLERS answers that question, in convincing fashion, through the stories of eight nonspeakers—Aydan, Evan, Sid, Maddie, Jamie, Vince, Cade, and Elizabeth—who all found their voice through the miraculous process of using a letterboard to communicate their thoughts and feelings. As Jamie explains, “we think, feel, and learn just like everyone else.”
The film blends beautiful cinematography with heart-wrenching stories of these eight spellers and a strong message for every parent of a nonspeaker: your child can do this, too. SPELLERS also demands that teachers, schools, and therapists wake up to the reality that we may have underestimated the abilities of more than 50 million people worldwide.
Pat R. Notaro III was born and raised in Southern California where he procured his passion for cinematography, surfing and skateboarding.
Husband and father of two kids, weekends are spent with family surfing, mountain biking, dirtbiking, or a session on the backyard skate ramp known to the local kids as Rutgers Ramp. Pat’s love for action sports and humanitarian spirit drive his professional and personal life. A graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography, Pat quickly navigated his way through all positions in the camera department. A member of IATSE Local 600 for 20 years his commitment and diligence to the craft can be witnessed as he prefers to pan a light or mount the camera head himself. This practical approach and strong work ethic defines Pat as flexible, generous, talented and contemporary. Pat is a modern DP & Director who infuses his gritty life experience into his work. Knowledge shooting all formats has made him a diverse Cinematographer and Director who enjoys opportunities that bring on challenges. From blending live action with motion graphics, beauty, comedy, kids networks, lifestyle, reality, and photography campaigns Pat will climb the 4th highest mountain in the world, Mt. Kilimanjaro to get the shot. Pat is capable of doing and shooting it all. Working in conjunction with various Broadcast Graphic Design firms and production companies his work has been recognized with accolades from the BDA’s (Broadcast Design Awards) and the MVPA’s (Music Video Production Awards).
Pat believes strongly in supporting humanitarian and environmental causes and making films to educate, restore hope and become tools for change. Current efforts to better the planet include his formation of a Non Profit Organization named A Walk On Water. Pat became immersed with the wonders of the ocean and how it positively assisted and changed children with Special Needs, especially those with Autism. Pat is a humanist who believes in people first. His ability to story tell and his varied experience make Pat a man you will never forget.
I’d been working with kids with autism, nonspeaking autism, for two decades with various surf therapy non profits and one I had founded in 2012. When my good friend J.B. first told me about the communication miracle he had experienced with his nonspeaking son Jamie I couldn’t believe it. Wait, they were in there and totally aware and connected the whole time? It was too much. Incomprehensible. How could we have missed this?
The first time I saw Jamie spell, it was the closest I’ve ever felt to witnessing a miracle–goosebumps everywhere! I knew this story had to be told. It’s not just the impact this change has had on Jamie’s life and his family’s, Jamie convinced me that every nonspeaker is just like him. He didn’t want a movie just about him, it had to include his “bros.”
We wanted the audience to really sit with these kids, to feel how hard they have to work to do things we take for granted, just to get a few words out. We had to show how patient and wise they are, how forgiving and honorable. The nonspeakers, they are the best parts of humanity, really. This doc gave us the chance to get into their world. We wanted to show different spellers at different phases of their spelling journey. A beginner, an amazing college graduate, and some in between.
The spellers are becoming a force, a movement, I’m so honored to help them tell their story. The spellers words are what makes this movie special. Every nonspeaker can do this, all 50 million of them. This movie demands a reckoning.
- Pat R. Notaro IIIDirector
- J.B. HandleyProducer
- Lisa HandleyProducer
- Dawnmarie GaivinProducer
- Dana JohnsonProducer
- Gail TannerProducer
- Steve TannerProducer
- Jenny McCarthy-WahlbergProducerhttps://m.imdb.com/name/nm0000189/fullcredits
- Donnie WahlbergProducerhttps://m.imdb.com/name/nm0005531/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0
- Jamie HandleyKey Cast”Speller”
- Vince RinicellaKey Cast”Speller”
- Elizabeth BonkerKey Cast”Speller”
- Sid SarathyKey Cast”Speller”
- Cade LarsonKey Cast”Speller”
- Aydan BodenKey Cast”Speller”
- MadisonKey Cast”Speller”
- Dana Johnson, PHDKey Cast”S2C Practitioner “
- Dawnmarie GaivinKey Cast”S2C Practitioner & Mother of Evan”
- J.B. HandleyKey Cast”Father of Jamie”
- Lisa HandleyKey Cast”Mother of Jamie”
- Sam HandleyKey Cast”Brother of Jamie”
- Honey RinicellaKey Cast”Mother of Vince”
- Dr. Vaishnavi Sarathy, PHDKey Cast”Mother of Sid”
- April BodenKey Cast”Mother of Ayden”
- Ginnie Virginia BreenKey Cast”Mother of Elizabeth”
- Evan TastorKey Cast”Speller”
- Brad HandleyKey Cast”Grandfather of Jamie”
- Linda HollmanKey Cast”Mother of Madison”
- Wayne Hollman, PHDKey Cast”Father of Madison”
- Jennifer LarsonKey Cast”Mother of Cade”
- Mark R. PoffOriginal Score
- Pat R. Notaro IIIWriter
- Theo Kirkman-LewittWriter