The Lybbaverse / autism  

Spectrum perspective: “Stand Clear of the Closing Doors” offers a look at NYC through the eyes of a child with Autism


Support the film "Stand Clear of the Closing Doors" on Kickstarter now.

In November 2009, director Sam Fleischner read an article about a 13-year-old boy with Autism who ran away from home, riding the New York City subway for 11 days. The story haunted him, and a year later he reached out to meet the family in hopes of learning more about their experience. He wanted to know how a child in need of help goes unnoticed in the most public of places, and what happens to an illegal immigrant family whose son goes missing in their adopted country.

With the cooperation of the family, he spent the next two years developing the screenplay for the film, "Stand Clear of the Closing Doors". What compelled him to retell the story in a narrative context was how perfectly it lent itself to a natural synthesis of allegory and realism.

The film explores the adventure of an outsider kid looking for his place, and trying to survive a system that wasn’t designed for him. It's a uniquely modern story with a mythic timelessness centered on Ricky, a 13-year-old Mexican American boy with Autism, and his mother, Catalina, an immigrant who works long days cleaning houses to support her family in Rockaway Beach, Queens.

One day, Ricky escapes into the subway system where he loses track of space, time, and himself. As his family frantically searches for him, he embarks on an odyssey of self discovery, observing scenes of urban pathos and oddity while his body weakens from hunger. As Catalina mounts a dogged manhunt for him, their stories intertwine becoming a dual narrative.

A large part of this story will be set in the New York City subway, with one of the most diverse cross-sections of people in the world. The city is an endless river of contrasting personalities, fashions, expressions, and interactions.

We all see the world differently, but people on the autistic spectrum are an extreme example. In addition to their heightened sensitivity towards light, sound, touch, and taste, they have great difficulty understanding emotions and interacting socially. The film captures the initial difficulty of expression between Ricky and his mother and gives way to a complete absence of communication when he disappears. Within this absence, a bridge between two vastly different perspectives is painstakingly rebuilt.

To tell this story, time and place will be documented in the most economical way, working with a small, efficient production crew, and natural, available light. This will be a sustainable style of filmmaking that uses the rich environments that already exist, fusing them with good storytelling.

"Stand Clear of the Closing Doors" is being created by a team of professional filmmakers who are working for next to nothing to create a top-notch project they believe in, led by two of the freshest companies in the independent film and video worlds. SeeThink Films is an award-winning production company based in New York. SeeThink is currently developing a slate of narrative films based on original screenplays. m ss ng p eces is a Brooklyn-based creative company inspired by storytelling, technology, and the limitless potential of the web. Since 2005, they’ve hand-crafted stories that celebrate the human spirit, innovation, art, and culture.

The Kickstarter goal is $35,000. Please help this film come to life by donating now