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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Tribeca: An Interview with Matt Fuller

Matt Fuller
By Joshua Handler

Matt Fuller's Autism in Love tells the stories of four adults with autism who navigate love. The film is an honest, emotional, unsentimental look at autism and the universality and power of love. Autism in Love premieres on April 16 at the Tribeca Film Festival. It is highly recommendedThe below is an email interview between director Matt Fuller and me.

How did you find your subjects? 

I was introduced to most of our subjects after about 6 months of research. During that research process, we spread the word far and wide about what we wanted to do and many people were eager to participate.

What drew you to this subject matter?

Initially, I was drawn to autism and romance because as a storyteller I’m always looking for stories about characters who want something it seems they cannot have. On the surface, it looks like that’s the case for a lot of adults with autism. As soon as I spent some time with the autism community, I knew that was a misconception and it became something I grew to be passionate exploring.

There are many moments during which your subjects speak to you and open themselves up emotionally to you on screen. How did you keep an objective approach to your subjects? 

Keeping an objective approach is never easy, particularly when you become so close to your subjects. It just became clear to me that listening and giving my subjects a platform to be heard was what they wanted, and ultimately what I felt was going to create a moving film. Also, prior to making this film, I didn’t have any experience with autism. So, I began the movie from a position of curiosity, not with an agenda to promote.

Your main subjects are all fascinating and you manage to balance four of them over the course of 70 minutes. Was it challenging balancing these peoples' stories while editing the film? 

Yes, it was very difficult. We cut every subject’s story individually, and then worked to interweave them to create the feature. Each subject represented a unique place on the autism spectrum and a place in one’s journey with love. So, the juxtaposition of each scene was critical.

What do you hope your audience takes away from this film and how do you hope this film changes people's perceptions of autism? 

First, I hope people are moved by this film and that they empathize with all of the characters. More importantly, I hope that this film humanizes people living with autism.

What, if anything, did you learn about autism and love in general from making this film? 

I think the thing that sticks out the most is that regardless of how you define love, and despite any obstacles you may have, you can find a connection that fulfills.

What was your goal when beginning Autism in Love and did it change as you went along? 

My goal when I began the film was to understand autism and to make a compelling movie. By the end, my goal was to honestly and accurately share my subject’s stories with the world.

What have your subjects' responses been to the film? 

Generally very positive. I have to imagine there’s a little bit of a shock in seeing such intimate parts of your life on screen. But, everyone who’s seen it has responded positively.

Were there any subjects' stories that you had to cut out of the film? 

Yes! We filmed 5 subjects that didn’t make it into the final cut of the movie. They were all great, but after a few months of editing it became clear that we were going to have to cut some characters so as not to crowd the movie with voices. 

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