New Feature-length Film Highlighting Actors with Special Needs
By Oz Online | Published on May 4, 2021

After a one-year pause due to the pandemic, Kevin Gillese is embarking on a heartwarming new comedy project. The former artistic director of Dad’s Garage Theatre, Kevin worked tirelessly to bring diversity to the company’s stage. On April 20, he will launch a new crowdfunding campaign for the biggest creative project in the company’s history, which is also a push for diversity and inclusion in entertainment. Kevin is seeking funding for the feature-length film “How to Ruin the Holidays.” This project is notable because it revolves around a character with a developmental disability (played by local actor Luke Davis who is also disabled), and the complicated realities that his family has to grapple with.

Gillese is seeking $100,000 in contributions for the project, which will feature Colin Mochrie, Amber Nash and Henry Zebrowski as actors. The goal is for the project to get funded, produced, and eventually picked up by a distributor for theatrical release. This specific film has been a long-term dream of Kevin’s, and he is excited to bring it to fruition. He will be contracting with Dad’s Garage TV to film this movie.

“This is a million-dollar movie we are doing for $150,000 and that’s only possible due to all of our top-level creatives and producers working for free because they believe this work is important. We are seeking $100,000 in crowdfunding, and the other $50,000 has been raised privately. Most of our production budget is going to hard costs like equipment rentals, catering, and paying crew members” says Kevin.

Since stepping down from the artistic director role, Kevin has focused his attention on producing a comedic film featuring adult actors with special needs. Kevin’s younger brother has a developmental disability, and for years Kevin has been concerned about representation of this group in media and entertainment. Through this project, Kevin hopes to show that there are many talented actors with special needs who can take on these types of roles.

“In movies and television, special needs characters are treated like children, even if they are full-grown adults. Through ‘How to Ruin the Holidays’ I want to give adults with special needs their own agency, and deal with the real-world issues that are part of their lives. And I want to do it in a comedic format,” says Kevin.

Some of the topics that “How to Ruin the Holidays” will cover include questions of employment, sexuality, and how adults with special needs take care of themselves when their parents pass away. Despite the heavy subject matter, Kevin has created a script that uses comedy to address these issues. Rather than being portrayed as children, in “How to Ruin the Holidays,” the character with special needs drinks, smokes, and curses right along with the rest of his family.

This film is a successor to the DGTV short “That Was Awesome,” which was done in collaboration with the JCC Spotlight program, which trains adults with special needs in the skills of acting and performance. “That Was Awesome” featured a large cast of special needs actors and Dad’s Garage improvisers, and the film has been featured at many film festivals. Luke Davis also starred in “That Was Awesome.”

The Kickstarter campaign for this project will run from April 20-May 20. Donations of any size will be accepted through their online portal. Dad’s Garage is acting as a fiscal sponsor for this project so all donations are charitable and fully tax deductible.

“That Was Awesome” trailer –

“That Was Awesome” full short film –


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