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Home > Arts Network > Elaine Hall from Amazon Prime’s As We See It

Elaine Hall from Amazon Prime’s As We See It

Elaine Hall is a wonderful human spirit and mother to a son on the spectrum. They were both featured in HBO’s Emmy award winning film, Autism: The Musical, which highlights the creation of The Miracle Project.

 

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Elaine has since taken The Miracle Project to new heights where it is more than just a creative outlet for people with neurodiversity. It now also coaches people with neurodiversity on how to enter and work in the theater, film and television industry.

She is often hired to not only advocate for actors on the spectrum but also to train film crews on how to communicate and work with people with various neurodiversity. This took an even bigger stage when she did all of that and was also a cast member on Amazon Prime Video’s new neurodiverse drama As We See It.

Transcript:

Elaine Hall
Vince, so nice to see you.

Vincent Dela Luna
Thank you for coming. We love your show. We love what you’ve been doing with As We See It. And what really blows my mind is not only how powerful the show is, as it is not just starring an autistic character, but it’s really just as powerfully about a relationship between one guy and his dad, one person and her brother, you know, the relationships of people… what it’s like to work. There are so many real issues. We’d love to talk about how you got involved, and where the show is going. But also, you’re doing so much more than that. I mean, you get hired by the film industry, to help teach people how to work with neurodiverse actors. And I’d love to learn more about what exactly is it that you do in Hollywood.

Elaine Hall
So thank you, thank you, Vince. I was really honored to be involved in As We See It. And Jason Katims, who’s the executive producer, writer, creator of the series, the series is actually inspired by the Israeli series On The Spectrum. And Jason saw that and then developed this series. It’s a labor of love for him. I’ve known the Katims family for many, many years. And they’re big supporters of The Miracle Project, which is my my own theater and film program. And Jason called me and said, “I’m doing this show. Would you like to be involved?” Immediately, Jason Katims calls and you go, “yes!” Then tell me what it is. So I, we actually filmed a pilot in the fall of 2019. And then you know, what happened in 2020. So we waited quite a while before we, and we were greenlit by Amazon very quickly, in the beginning of 2020. So we then we had to wait to shoot it. We shot it last February and March, and part of April. So all throughout Los Angeles. And it’s, it was a labor of love from the beginning, from A to Z. I’ve been heavily involved in, in some of the promotion of the film… and of the film… of the TV series.

So what do I do? That’s a great question. Because I do whatever project is asked of me to do. And then I pretty much create my position, as I see necessary. Everything from walking onto a soundstage. And, and Vince, I know you’ve got years of experience in the film business as well. But everything from walking onto a soundstage and noticing how dark the soundstage is, as compared to the outside. And the potential for… I mean I’m neurodivergent myself… so my our neurodivergent brains to have to adjust to the dark, everything from subtle things like that to request some lighting, or some fluorescent tape as we walk in, to being on set behind the camera with the director, and making subtle suggestions that can be beneficial to the performance. So my work is from A to Z, whatever is necessary in that moment. On a series I’m incredibly helpful by on a series and you know, there there are multiple directors. So there’ll be a director for episode one, and then another director, maybe one and two and then another director for episode three. So there’s different directors and my work with the actors provides the continuity, from director to director of letting… so they don’t have to start fresh every single time.

What else do I do? I read over scripts and make sure the language is we’re always pushing the envelope I very strong about language that correctly represents the entire disability community, not only the neurodivergent communities, so making sure there’s no words like, “That’s so lame.” Because as we know, lame comes from a biblical verse, and refers to people who are who have physical disabilities. So to say “that’s so lame” is an is an offense, you know, that I’ve done that on other shows, Jason’s work is always so respectful that my comments on the scripts is very minimal. He, he and his crew of writers, he has some writers in the team who are neurodivergent themselves, our parents, and the writing is so respectful that the actors can really jump in. I’m on set for the actors to go over lines to help them reinterpret to the actors who are neurotypical, they can ask me questions. I’m really there for producer, director, actors, sound person, everything that’s needed.

Karen Simmons
And I love how you made it so relatable to everybody to young people to, you know, teenagers to, you know, 20 to 30 year olds, as well as people that are my age. I’m not saying what that is. But yeah, I mean, it’s just so relatable to everybody. And it’s just really hit the nail on the head, you know?

Elaine Hall
Yes, I’m so glad. Karen, that’s the idea is that these just happen to be individuals who just happen to be neurodivergent. But the themes are universal.

Karen Simmons
Right. Right.

Vincent Dela Luna
Sibling… parent. Absolutely. It’s very emotional. You can feel it right away.

Karen Simmons
Yes.

Elaine Hall
Yeah. And really, anyone, any young person, go in their 20s, I used to call it the terrible 20s. So it doesn’t even have to be someone who’s related to someone on the spectrum. And obviously, it hits us harder. But anyone can relate to those years of 20s of who am I? What am I? Bad relationships.

Karen Simmons
And it’s so important for everybody to relate to our kids. You know, I called I went home, and I was at home when I watched it, of course, but I picked up the phone called all six of my kids. And I said you have to watch this. And I don’t do that very often, you know, I just don’t, I just said you have to watch this. It’s amazing. It’s so wonderful just to have something out there that everybody can relate to and identify with. I’ve been living in a microcosm of this whole family, of course, six kids that husband that, you know, we had to go work through a lot of these issues ourselves, because I had them within nine years. A lot of people don’t have that situation go on. But it’s it’s so valuable to be able to see all these things unfold right in front of you.

Elaine Hall
Thank you, Karen, thank you.

Vincent Dela Luna
What you’re teaching the world is invaluable.

Karen Simmons
Yes.

Vincent Dela Luna
And I love what you’re doing too. So you are almost an agent of neurodivergent actors, to make sure that their needs are met, you help translate what the crew requires, so that it’s fully understood. And I love what you said about like on a TV series, you know, the directors change and they might be new, and not understand what’s going on. But you can translate the requests in a way that’s familiar to the actors. Are you involved at all in the in the casting process? Or are you hired after they’ve been cast?

Elaine Hall
So with As We See It, Cami Patton, who is a casting director the top the best, she did a nationwide search for, for the actors for As We See It. And I was involved with this with As We See It, by looking for actors from The Miracle Project.

Karen Simmons
Ah…

Elaine Hall
Or in the episode three, the drama, the drama class. The actors from The Miracle Project are involved there. In other shows, I also worked on the show for Netflix, A-Typical. The peer group is all actors from The Miracle Project.

Vincent Dela Luna
Oh, wow.

Elaine Hall
Well, I’m kind of the first go to when there’s a project in Hollywood. Because of that… Thank you. Because of that, The Miracle Project has started a professional training program for teens, young adults and older adults who aspire to be in the entertainment business

Vincent Dela Luna
Brilliant!

Elaine Hall
Started Yeah, and and I just a shameless plug that that class is on Zoom, and we have people from Canada from a New York, New Jersey, Minnesota, we have people from all over, that are in that professional training program. And we’ve expanded we have two classes. Now we’re going to start a young, we get a lot of casting calls for 7, 8, 9 year olds, so we’re going to start a class for younger children. And you know, just what’s to be expected on a set.

Karen Simmons
That’s beautiful. We have an arts platform that we’re going to be showcasing people that have strengths, gifts and talents. Of course, that’s very important in the art field and music and, and acting and dancing and anything that they want to showcase. So maybe there’s something that we can help you with.

Elaine Hall
Well, that would be terrific.

Vincent Dela Luna
We’re very aligned in the message of, you don’t need to be a savant to have greatness.

Karen Simmons
Yes.

Vincent Dela Luna
Everybody has greatness, you just have to be patient enough to see beyond the disability. And understand that if, if you put them in the right spot, everybody can shine.

Karen Simmons
Yes.

Vincent Dela Luna
And I love that about what you’re doing, personally.

Karen Simmons
Yes.

Vincent Dela Luna
I love that about The Miracle Project.

Karen Simmons
Yes.

Vincent Dela Luna
I love that about the show. I mean, and you know, when I look at your history, I think the common denominator is, everything YOU touch turns to gold. So congratulations there!

Elaine Hall
Bless you. I, I feel very fortunate, and to be able to do the work that we do.

Karen Simmons
Yes.

Elaine Hall
And I love what you said about everybody has, we have a song called Fly and it was, it was created by, he was a teenager at the time, Jacob Artson. He types to communicate and typed: Everyone has a talent, and they can learn to fly. So I agree with you 100%. One of our professional level classes are individuals that are more impacted and need more support. And they’ve become background actors. They’ve had they’re background actors on this show on As We See It. And I brought them to other shows Netflix they’ve been hired to be background actors.

Karen Simmons
Nice.

Elaine Hall
It’s a career right? We’re building careers.

Vincent Dela Luna
Right.

Karen Simmons
Right.

Elaine Hall
And everyone, everyone has a talent at allowing their, their soul to come forth. And not to be hindered by the neurology. The other thing and the actors from As We See It, who’ve become dear friends as well. But one of the things is like being on set for someone who has a passion for acting in the entertainment field, that’s, that’s our happy place.

Karen Simmons
Yeah. Yes, yes, yes.

Elaine Hall
It’s the real world. That is the challenge.

Vincent Dela Luna
That’s beautiful. What you just said is beautiful, because one of the challenges that’s always around neurodivergent people is letting them live in a happy place. And what you’re doing is you’re showing them a place in an industry where they can claim it as their happy place.

Karen Simmons
Yes.

Vincent Dela Luna
And they can live financially self sustainably, independently, full of self esteem, in their happy place. Their happy place doesn’t have to be segregated from the world. It can be a part of it. And I love what you’re doing with it. That’s great.

Karen Simmons
That’s why our brand has always been the star. Not the puzzle, the star, you know, shining light on special needs. And it’s just bringing out the the gifts, the strengths and the talents.

Elaine Hall
I love that star, Yes. For people with all disabilities. And yeah, and our our our image is the butterfly.

Karen Simmons
Yes.

Elaine Hall
Because we crawl like a caterpillar, you know, into a chrysalis. And then in the right environment where you’re nurtured and seen and understood for who you are.

Karen Simmons
Right.

Elaine Hall
Then your butterfly can emerge.

Vincent Dela Luna
I love that message in Autism: The Musical as well, where when they asked you well, what are you trying to do? What’s What’s your goal here? And it was really to make them enjoy themselves and have fun. And that it wasn’t it wasn’t we need to make production, which I know from years in the film industry that can drive you to a place where it’s not comfortable all the time. You know, but I love how your focus was let’s make this a happy place for the kids. You know for these people and I think that it’s such a such a wonderful thing.

What’s in the future for Elaine Hall? What’s in the future for As We See It… for the fans that want to see more?

Elaine Hall
Yes, fans, write into Amazon, tell them how much you love As We See It. Tell everyone to watch it, the more viewership we get, the more chance there is for a Season Two. So it really is fan based. That’s why you know, I love talking to you guys about this because I know what a reach you have.

What’s my, where am I going? We have 18 years of content of I write original musicals. And now we’ve become, because of pandemic we wrote original film. And we are bringing the content out into the world. In April, Broadway Licensing is going to be making licensing a play that we wrote several years ago called The Intimidation Game. And it’s an anti-bullying musical that was created with by and for individuals with and without disabilities, our program is fully inclusive, or I like to say it’s a culture of belonging.

Karen Simmons
Wow, that’s beautiful.

Elaine Hall
Yeah. And you can go to our website we’ll have information about it’s called The Intimidation Game. And it’s, it’s going to have the script, the sheet music, the rehearsal, music, everything so that anyone can put on the play.

Karen Simmons
Wow.

Elaine Hall
That’s one thing. Yeah. The other is, last year, we created an original musical film, called Journey to Namoo. And Namoo. Well, I’m not gonna give it away. But we can send you a link to that. And we are going to be doing a zoom screening. And I can get you all the information for that. It was inspired by Barry Prizant’s book, Uniquely Human. And the concept we wrote it and created it ourselves. The concept is a group of neurodiverse teens and young adults are in a social skills class, where the teacher is trying to get them to be normal. And they break through they break through the magical mirror into a land where they are cherished for who they are. And, and that’s the film was created all on green screen, and each person filmed themselves. So they were never in the same room together. We edited it with a brilliant editor, Justin Anthony Long, and my co-producer and director and he edited the entire film together. So it looks like everyone’s in the same room together. I want it I can, I’ll definitely send you guys when the announcement when that comes out. So we’re really allowing our content to reach a broader audience. We’re creating a original musical, um, two music videos, we started a non-speaking class in The Miracle Project called Express Yourself. It’s one of the only non-speaking… where the individuals type to communicate and they’re writing their own scripts and stories and music. So we’re really broadening considerably into the non-speaking realm. And, and then we have all of our social skills classes for ages five and up. So I’m, I’m excited. I’m the artistic director now so, which is wonderful. And then I’m also part of an organization called 1in4 Coalition. It’s a group of Hollywood professionals with disabilities who are changing Hollywood. And we’re instead of DE, the Diversity Equity. DEI were asking people to add the A for accessibility and become an access coordinator where I’m you know, available on every set to make sure that

Vincent Dela Luna
That’s beautiful.

Karen Simmons
That’s wonderful.

Elaine Hall
I’m doing a lot and, and also enjoying my life.

Vincent Dela Luna
That’s great.

Karen Simmons
That is wonderful.

Vincent Dela Luna
I wonder if Stanley Greenspan knew that he would inspire somebody to just change the world like he did with you. What you’re doing is amazing. You’re empowering so many people, and I love that what you’re doing is showing them how to live happily in the world, not apart from it. And it’s beautiful and I and it also teaches everybody else in the world that Everybody Needs to Exist With Each Other. You know, and I love it. We wish the best for you. And please, please come back and talk to us when your other projects are going, we would love to hear more, and help spread the word and increase your fan base. Because what you’re doing is so brilliant.

Elaine Hall
Thank you so

Karen Simmons
And Barry Prizant too.

Elaine Hall
Yes. Thank you.

Karen Simmons
You’re amazing. I miss seeing you.

Elaine Hall
Aww, this is good to be with each other on Zoom. Right?

Karen Simmons
Yes.

Vincent Dela Luna
And your your media, the things you are creating will always have a platform on Autism Today.

Karen Simmons
Absolutely.

Vincent Dela Luna
Should you want it. You know, we’re talking to TELUS about a channel across Canada.

Karen Simmons
Yep.

Vincent Dela Luna
So, you know, 1/3 of all Canadians will have access to what you produce. And then we also have our platform. So if you if you ever want a place to showcase even tidbits if not the whole thing.

Elaine Hall
Wow.

Vincent Dela Luna
We would love we would love to work with you there.

Elaine Hall
Oh, that would be great. So we’ll, we’ll send you the materials for The Intimidation Game and then the trailer for

Vincent Dela Luna
Please do.

Elaine Hall
We’ll send you the trailer for Journey to Namoo.

Vincent Dela Luna
Yes, we’d love that.

Elaine Hall
That would be awesome. And yeah, you know, maybe you guys would want to sponsor the part of this screening, you know. That would be great.

Karen Simmons
Everybody to watch As We See It.

Elaine Hall
Yeah. And get everyone

Karen Simmons
Everybody on the planet needs to see that.

Vincent Dela Luna
It’s a must see, for sure. A must see.

Karen Simmons
Everybody.

Elaine Hall
I love that. We’ll say Everyone Must See As We See It.

Karen Simmons
Yes.

Vincent Dela Luna
Thank you so much. Thank you so much.

Karen Simmons
Thank you so much for your time. It’s wonderful to see you

Vincent Dela Luna
And keep being you. What you’re doing is fabulous.

Elaine Hall
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. All right, talk to you. Talk to you soon. And congrats on all the work you’re doing, keep me posted on all of that!

Karen Simmons
We will.

Vincent Dela Luna
Thank you very much.

Karen Simmons
Thank you. Thanks, Elaine. Bye bye.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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