Credits Continue to Roll for Exceptional Minds Digital Arts Academy for Young Adults with Autism

Share Article

Noted for their post-production work on blockbuster film American Hustle, these young men and women with autism have applied their post-production skills to new movie Haunt, which released onto digital this month.

Exceptional Minds vocational school for young adults on the autism spectrum

This is something that they (digital arts students with autism) have an eye for and also the patience for.

The credits continue to roll for Exceptional Minds digital arts academy for young adults with autism. After a brush with fame for their post-production work on blockbuster film American Hustle, students here – all in their 20s and on the spectrum − have applied their skills to the eclectic movie Haunt, which released onto digital this month.

Exceptional Minds is a nonprofit vocational school for young men and women with autism who are preparing for careers in motion picture and TV post-production and the digital arts. Students Nicholas Benoist, Patrick Brady, Lloyd Hackl, Eli Katz, Jeremy Pollock and Mason Taylor provided more than twenty split-screen shots used in the making of Haunt.

“Several shots looked deceptively simple but required highly detailed compositing. The skills these young autistic adults are developing are state-of-the-art. Because of the quality, professionalism and competitive rates, I think we’ll see more of their work in the future," said Robert Hackl, who subcontracted Exceptional Minds artists as the post supervisor and visual effects producer for the film.

Split-screens are one of the earliest forms of “Hollywood magic,” combining different takes or portions of takes to add or remove elements for a desired effect. They are very often used to change the timing of an actor's performance in relation to screen action, background or other actors in the same shot, explained Hackl, who also employed Exceptional Minds artists for American Hustle and the 2012 film Lawless.

For American Hustle, the students applied compositing and pre-comp techniques for both simple and more complex 2D work involving the painstaking process of outlining and isolating key elements or characters so that background or foreground details could be digitally manipulated or changed altogether. For the 2012 major motion picture Lawless, Exceptional Minds students produced the title composition and graphics for the end-credit screen crawl.

“This is something that they (students) have an eye for and also the patience for,” said Exceptional Minds Program Director Ernie Merlán. In addition to attention to detail, Exceptional Minds students also demonstrate an above-average dedication to the work. “We have two students who have been here three years but have never missed a day,” said Yudi Bennett, a Frank Capra Achievement award winner who helped co-found Exceptional Minds, is the parent of a son on the spectrum, and is now the school’s Director of Operations.

Exceptional Minds is a 501C nonprofit vocational school started in September 2011 by professionals in the movie industry to help young adults with autism transition from high school into meaningful careers. The school is unique in that it prepares students with autism for careers through professional accreditation and real work experience in the movie industry, including 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 visual affects.

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.

Haunt is a $3 million horror/suspense feature distributed by IFC Midnight and starring Jackie Weaver, Liana Liberato, Ione Skye and Harrison Gilbertson.

About Exceptional Minds ( Exceptional Minds is a non-profit vocational center and working production studio for young adults on the autism spectrum. It was chartered in 2011 to provide the training necessary for creatively-gifted individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) who may not otherwise be able to make the transition from high school to careers. Exceptional Minds offers technical proficiency and work readiness training that prepares students for careers in graphic arts, animation, web design, visual effects and rotoscoping. Located in Sherman Oaks, California, Exceptional Minds is both an instructional learning facility and a working studio with hands-on student involvement in production projects, many for the film industry.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Yudi Bennett

Dee McVicker
Visit website