LAFAYETTE -- Joey Travolta's L.A.-based Inclusion Films and Lafayette's Futures Explored, Inc. are teaming up for a planned January 2013 launch of the Practical Film and Media Workshop, a 20-week vocational training course aimed at putting adults with developmental disabilities to work.

Futures Explored has teamed with Joey Travolta -- brother of John -- on five two-week summer filmmaking camps at Saint Mary's College, geared for students ages 9-21. That program will continue, but the introduction of the Southern California adult program propels their collaboration to a new level. And Futures Explored Executive Director Will Sanford predicts this is only the beginning.

"We've been hearing about the numbers of autistic kids in schools," Sanford said, "but we're here to answer the question of what young adults in the (autism) spectrum are going to do after they graduate from school."

The Practical Film and Media Workshop is open to individuals over the age of 18 with autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities. Funding comes privately, or in most cases, through the Regional Center of the East Bay. Tuition is $8,500 for the course that will meet from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. five days a week.

Sanford says the workshop's location remains to be finalized, but Lafayette is most likely. Concord or Berkeley are possibilities. Broadcast opportunities and collaborations with colleges and other local organizations are also being actively pursued.


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Hester Wagner, who holds an MA in Educational Theatre from NYU and has worked with Travolta for the past five years, is the lead instructor. Experienced in curriculum development and versed in the acrobatics of juggling training, teaching, managing, scheduling and producing films, Wagner is eager to take students from concept to class to execution.

"This is all about helping people to get a job," Wagner says. "It's going to impact people outside, in the real world."

Wagner and her team will teach students every step of film production, including what makes a good narrative, lighting, camera operation, acting and writing, pre- and postproduction editing, artistic design and film history.

Travolta hopes to produce students with the social and organizational skills they lack.

"It's not just training these kids to go into the film industry," Travolta says. "We're teaching these kids how to go into the workplace. They'll learn valuable work habits to go into any field."

For information about how to register for the Practical Film and Media Workshop, contact Aileen Timmers at aileentimmers@futures-explored.org or 925-284-3240 (ext. 215). For Summer Full Inclusion Camp, go to: www.futures-explored.org/film_camp_home.htm.

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