SUNNVALE (KPIX 5) — Actor-director Joey Travolta, brother of John Travolta, helped kick off a unique vocational program this week in Sunnyvale. The program teaches film-making to developmentally disabled adults.
It’s a partnership between Travolta’s company, Inclusion Films, and the nonprofit Options for All, which serves people with disabilities.
KPIX 5 reporter Sharon Chin was with students who were recording a promotional clip for the Options for All Film Studio. It trains Meriah Springer and his classmates for film industry jobs, from camera operator to actor and director.
“I don’t mind being in front of the camera, but I like the behind the scenes stuff,” Springer said.
Adults with developmental disabilities learn from industry professionals on the latest equipment. Program manager Karin Babbitt says the two-year training opens them to new possibilities.
“They sort of fall into a place where most people see them as someone who can only do something mundane and their creativity is seen as a hobby,” Babbitt said.
Right now, there are fewer than ten students in the class. The program can accommodate anywhere from 40 to 45.
Options for All and Travolta’s Inclusion Films run the program in other cities, too. Dozens of graduates have landed industry jobs in the last two years.
“Because the film industry is one of the top five grossing industries in California, this is a very realistic thing for you to do with your life,” Babbitt said.
Deborah Ramos hopes to realize her dream of writing screenplay.
“Being in the movie world helps me get creative a lot. I’ve already come up with some crazy ideas,” Ramos said.
Armed with their new film skills, students are thrilled to be writing the next act in the story of their lives. The program costs $16,000 per student each semester. Some students are eligible for government funding.
Options for All is hiring teaches, especially those with experience in costume and set design and construction.