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Inclusion Films opens Hollywood doors to special-needs workers

Greg Donoghue grew up around film sets. His father worked as a film publicist in Europe and his uncle is Pierre Spengler, a producer of the “Superman” movies.

But the 30-year-old had never seriously considered a career in the movie industry until he got a chance to direct his own short-film called “Sunshine Manor,” a love story about relationship between a nursing home patient and her doctor.

“It takes a lot of patience, and time is your worst enemy,” Donoghue said of his directorial debut. “I’d rather build sets than be a director, but the experience is going to benefit me when I try to get an interview.”

Donoghue, who was diagnosed a few years ago with a form of high-functioning autism, was among nearly two dozen special-needs crew members who worked on “Sunshine Manor.” The film was shot over three days in Burbank this summer as a class project for a 20-week-long course offered by Inclusion Films.


Founded by Joey Travolta, older brother of actor John Travolta, Inclusion Films trains adults with developmental disabilities in the nuts and bolts of filmmaking -- from writing the script to building sets and using film and editing equipment -- with the goal of finding them jobs in the entertainment industry or some other field.

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-- Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times

Photo: Joey Travolta, left, founder of Inclusions Films in Burbank, is joined by former students Michael Cooney, Joseph Geronimo and Hayk Galstyan, and current student Quinn Kieffer-Wright. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times