Exceptional Minds Studio for Young Adults on Autism Spectrum Snags Movie Credit for Lawless, in Theaters This Month

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Young adults on the autism spectrum with animation chops are a Hollywood shoo-in, gaining the support of Ed Asner, Tom Hanks and more recently, earning movie cred for post-production of a major film.

Exceptional Minds, the Sherman Oaks vocational school and working studio for young adults on the autism spectrum, received its second major Hollywood credit as the post-production studio for the closing credits of the movie Lawless.

Lawless, a Weinstein Company production that was accepted into the prestigious 2012 Cannes Film Festival competition, was one of three movie projects delivered by Exceptional Minds its first year as a nonprofit school.

The school is also credited in the 2011 movie Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer and has received support from Hollywood notables such as Tom Hanks and Ed Asner, as well as from gaming company ngmoco.

“The goal here is to get these guys out there and working and doing something they love to do, something that feeds their soul,” commented Exceptional Minds Program Director Ernie Merlan.

Along with Exceptional Minds, students Patrick Brady, Lloyd Hackl and Anthony Irvin as well as Exceptional Minds instructor Josh Dagg are listed as titles layout artists in the film’s credit roll.

All eleven Exceptional Minds students were involved in the project, with three key students bringing the project to final completion: Patrick Brady, who has a background and interest in animation; Anthony Irvin, who excels in illustration; and Lloyd Hackl, whose acute perception and ability to recognize small discrepancies proved to be helpful in ensuring accuracy of names. The three are in their late teens or early 20s and diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

"Here's a non-profit organization that gives these uniquely challenged individuals a chance they wouldn't otherwise have - to do a job they excel in and love. The producers enjoy a competitive rate for needed services, get a tax deduction and derive real PR benefits. I call that a big win-win,” said Robert Hackl, Lloyd's father who was the post production supervisor and visual effects producer for Lawless.

Exceptional Minds is a 501C nonprofit vocational school started in September 2011 as the only school of its kind to offer ASD individuals instructional training in computer animation and special effects as a bridge between high school and the working world. According to a recent study prepared for the U.S. Department of Education, one in three young adults with autism have no job experience or college or technical training after high school graduation.

Roughly a half-million autistic kids will reach adulthood in the next decade.

The three-year Exceptional Minds program includes technical training for Adobe (ACA) certification, job readiness skills and a professional reel/portfolio that graduates can use to seek employment in the fields of animation, computer graphics and/or visual affects. Real-world work experience is an important part of the Exceptional Minds curriculum. Lawless is the studio’s first film project to premier at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, although the working studio has done the end credits for independent films Judy Moody, Remnants and Long Time Gone. Exceptional Minds has also completed post-production cleanup work for indie Piehead and worked on various website and animation projects in the past year.

Lawless is expected to be released to theatres in August, 2012.

Exceptional Minds (http://www.exceptionalmindsstudio.org) started with 11 students its first school year ending Friday and will expand to more than 15 students for the school year ending in 2013. During the summer, Exceptional Minds is offering summer workshops for high schoolers and others on the spectrum interested in developing short takes, animations and short video games.

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Dee McVicker
Grassroots Communications
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