Katie Vahey Gaebler
I DRUM TO A DIFFERENT PUZZLE-- upcoming movie
My Inspiration Written by Bryan Huynh
For several years up to early 2022 whenever I attended events at a relative’s house, I saw a unique image of an autistic adult male (in his 40s) being mistreated right in front of my eyes. His presence was almost ignored by individuals. He had no interaction with others.
As a writer when I see or read something, I tend to put things together and ask myself “Do I have a story?” It was not until I read a LinkedIn post about Autism Spectrum (AS), I remembered vividly of the image and began my path getting to know more about AS. Over several weeks I uncovered a lot and narrowed it down to outline my script and short film “I Drum to a Different Puzzle”.
I believe autistic individuals and their idiosyncrasies that make them who they are, and those like me for example, know little or nothing about autism. Society is quick to judge others who are different. It is said for individuals who have AS to be expected to fit into what society thinks is normal or acceptable. Changing the norm is important and accepting people for who they are and not for who we expect them to be. Life gives many lemons and meanings to one’s life. I decided to create the main character named Faith in her teenage years, to be upbeat and zest for life. She has a level 1 syndrome with high level of IQ and the basic symptoms rather than someone having a Classical or Kanner’s syndrome, a severe symptom in loss of cognition, speech, or anti-social behaviors.
Love does not come easy for autistic teenagers in high school. Many labeled groups separate themselves: the popular, the prettiest, the jocks, the nerds, the wallflowers, and the likely one who has AS as “diversity and variety of symptoms”. Social interaction challenges and difficulty in non-verbal communication are two keys in Faith’s character. I introduce this moment in the opening scene between Faith with her mom. Having or maintaining friendships is a tough task but every group there is always that one loyal friend who is there “for you” no matter what the circumstances. One of my 1980s favorite movies is “Pretty in Pink” as it is about love and social circles in a teenager’s years. Andie, the main character, has been outcast by classmates but she does not care. She stays true to her identities and has a best friend named Duckie, and he is in the same boat as Andie. The script follows Faith one day when she comes over to Noah’s house. Noah is the same age as Faith and attends the same high school with her. As she is about to enter a room, she overhears a conversation between Noah and his mom. She thought “wow, this is what love looks like.” Faith decides to ask him for a favor. The ending will set up Faith and Noah’s friendships, but importantly Faith is able to get insight information about who she is.
Being labeled is something I can identify growing up as an Asian person. As I witnessed that moment at my family’s event, I felt so bad for him and I know he did not know how to react. Society is quick to judge others who are different. I do not know how society can change this, but I think it is an important conversation that often gets brushed away and discarded. At this point I put ideas down on paper, wrote settings and a few dialogues, then after that I opened my laptop to write more. Up to now I did not see myself writing on the subject, because it was never interesting to me. In one full year it has changed a lot.
I have a feature screenplay involving three narratives that come about and are surrounded in each day setting of the week. Meeting unexpected people come and go, and this is one of the most captivating things about life when you are least expected. In all it gives a life’s meaning if you have a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. I am thinking of exploring further about autism, because one of the main characters is very shy and not socializing actively with outsiders. The old saying “there is more to this than meets the eye” as when a situation is not as simple as it seems to be.