Can a movie about a zombie apocalypse be a metaphor for what it feels like when people with disabilities try to be seen and heard?
That’s the message at the heart of a documentary being filmed at YAI in Tarrytown, where adults supported by the nonprofit and its staff are collaborating on a story that’s scary and funny while illuminating the abilities of people who often feel overlooked.
The documentary, titled How We Survived the Zombie Apocalypse, being made by director/filmmaker Josh Adler, captures the efforts of the cast and crew to make their own horror movie, Shhh They’re Coming.
The plot of Shhh, which is being shot entirely on an iPhone, revolves around what happens when the staff ignores warnings from the actors — people with intellectual and developmental disabilities — about an unfolding zombie attack.
The idea to make a horror film as part of a multimedia curriculum came from one of the people supported by YAI, Chris Daniels of Sleepy Hollow.
“We can do anything that we want in life,” Daniels says in the documentary’s trailer, adding “I don’t see many disabled people making zombie movies, and this is going to be the first time.”
Ken Reedy, supervisor of curriculum and workforce development at YAI, said the movie’s underlying message will be clear, but “we’re not banging people over the head with it. It’s more subtle, so you definitely get a fun, bloody zombie picture when it’s all said and done.”
As Reedy says in the trailer: “I want the general public to understand that when you hear the term ‘people with disabilities,’ that you underline ‘people,’ ”
YAI direct support professionals Mark Grant and Ebony Hartwell are helping to direct the film, and their supervisor, John Meola wrote the script. YAI regional director Nicole Schiaffo is doing gory makeup on the creepy characters.
The horror film is expected to wrap up by year’s end, with the behind-the-scenes documentary ready by spring, Reedy said. Where the two films will be shown had not been determined as of mid-November. Visit youtube.com/watch?v=JOfHdS1py70&t=24s or howwesurviveazombieapocalypse.com/ to view the trailer for the documentary. Captions:
YAI 1: Director Carol Ochs, direct support professional Madelyn Toledo, Ken Reedy, supervisor of curriculum and workforce development; and Amy Sigona, associate director, corporate partnerships, advancement & communications, pose for a photo during the filming. Photo by Laurie Silver Lewis, direct support professional
YAI 2: Luz Macias is ready to take on some zombies. Photo by Laurie Silver Lewis, direct support professional
YAI 3: Chris Daniels with direct support professional Courtney Williams. Photo by Laurie Silver Lewis, direct support professional
YAI 4: Direct support professional Madelyn Toledo full zombie makeup. Photo by Laurie Silver Lewis, direct support professional