Rolling Without Limits

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Filmmaker Works to Break Down Disability Stigmas
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Filmmaker Works to Break Down Disability Stigmas

Halifax filmmaker, Spencer MacKay, 21, who was born with a rare form of dwarfism shot his short film Same Nightmare at Halifax West High School, which is where he went to high school. The fictional short film is focused on a high school student who is in a wheelchair. 

The film looks at the character's efforts to build a better life for himself but also change the perceptions of those around him. "It's about breaking down stigmatisms with disabilities and showing that the problem isn't just about the physical aspects, but also about the emotional and societal issues," said MacKay.

Same Nightmare recently screened at FIN Atlantic International Film Festival, and MacKay is working to get it turned into a television series.

MacKay, who is a graduate of NSCC's screen arts program, said he's always had an interest in filmmaking and would make films with his brother growing up, in part because he couldn't play sports such as baseball and soccer.

MacKay said that for new filmmakers, behind the scenes they must be able to be a jack of all trades, so his disability limits some of the things he can do, but it doesn't hold him back.

"I think it's a strength because I can tell stories other people can't and I can bring a voice to filmmaking and the medium that many people just don't have," he said.

MacKay said in the present filmmaking landscape, there is a shortage of characters and voices coming from a disability perspective, but he did note the NBC show Superstore has a character with a disability in it, while the recently released film Night School talks about having a learning disability.

MacKay said he wants his future projects to be split between being seen through a disability lens or being more traditional in nature. "Whether it contains a full disability empowerment theme or not, I want to be a good filmmaker all around," he said.

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