When you enter Louis Bennies’ apartment in Quickborn (Pinneberg district), you immediately notice: A film freak lives here. Poster of “The Godfather” on the wall, Star Wars Druid C3PO as an action figure on the shelf and DVDs as far as the eye can see. Bennies even wrapped special editions in protective film. The movie is definitely the 21-year-old’s passion. In addition to classics and special director’s cut editions, he also has many films on the subject of “autism” in his collection – for a good reason: The film student is autistic himself with Asperger’s Syndrome – and is particularly interested in how the developmental disorder is portrayed in films becomes.
Box of clichés
Most of the time, Bennies isn’t happy with the way people with autism appear in films. “Films have a certain urge for drama,” says the budding film producer. “A lot of things are exaggerated in the film, it doesn’t really matter what it’s about.” Whether love, action, horror – everything is exaggerated in certain situations, says Bennies. “And that also applies to autism: People like to reach into a box of clichés.”
“Autism is not necessarily a disability”
For Bennies himself this is confusing or even hurtful for some films, including what is probably the most famous film about autism: “Rain Man”. Bennies remembered a scene from Barry Levinson’s Hollywood strip as particularly strange – when the two main characters were standing at the airport and wanted to travel. “The way he is clutching his suitcase so very tightly, and then the main actor is rocking up and down the whole time and only staring in one direction,” Bennies describes the scene. In his eyes, the autistic protagonist is portrayed as if he were significantly impaired – much to the irritation of the young filmmaker: “But autism is not necessarily a disability, it is more of a limitation.”
Your own short film – with autism as a topic
Autism is not always as pronounced as in “Rain Man,” says Bennies. He would like to show this in his own film: The Quickborner is studying digital film production and is currently making a short film with the title “Signals”. It’s about a young autistic person who falls in love with a girl at school – and about the difficulties that come with being in love as an autistic person. “I want to show people that we autistic people have the same needs as everyone else,” says Bennies. “Because I don’t think it’s generally accepted that autistic people want a relationship.”
Actors come through Facebook
Bennies was looking for actors for this on Facebook. This is how the main actor Björn Möller came to the project. He says he has never had any contact with autism before in his life. “I first had to watch a ton of documentaries to get used to the role,” says the actor, shortly before he dubbed a scene with the young director. “And then of course Louis also gave me tips and told me how autistic people behave in society.” Filming was not always easy.
“Because Louis is particularly interested in film, he has shown great patience,” says Möller. “We shot an unbelievable number of shots, which was really nerve-racking at times.” But the effort was necessary to make it perfect, says the actor. “And in retrospect, I’m super happy about it.”
Dubbing together with the film team
When it comes to filmmaking, Louis Bennies is in his element. And the dubbing is also very much about the details. After everything has been discussed in detail with the entire team, it goes outside. And while the actors go through the lyrics one more time, the director, armed with headphones and a boom, listens to the scenery. “It doesn’t work here,” says Bennies, “too many birds are chirping in the background, so I have problems with editing afterwards.” That means: everyone in the car and off to a meadow in the forest – and finally there the sound recordings can run without any problems.
“Signals” is supposed to be on the big screen
According to Bennies, there is not much left until “Signals” is finished: The music still has to be stored, the colors adjusted and a few scenes added to music. Then, says the filmmaker, your own short film will finally be ready for the big screen. As soon as possible, the Quickborner wants to submit his film to film festivals. But he waits until the cinemas reopen. An online film festival is simply not the same as being live at one of the festivals: For its premiere, Bennies would like to experience all the trappings – and of course also get the reactions of the audience.
The Quickborner hopes that “Signals” will be shown for the first time in the middle of next year. And then maybe there will also be a DVD that – wrapped in a protective cover – will find a special place on Bennie’s shelf.