Your new movie Into
the Spotlight - in a few words, what's it about?
the Spotlight is a documentary feature film which follows a Dallas-based
theater troupe, composed of people with disabilities, as they write,
rehearse, and perform their original musical production. This heartfelt
story is told by the film’s subjects, from their own personal
perspectives and in their own way. This documentary film is a testament to
the power of a supportive, creative space where young adults with
disabilities can explore their creativity and express themselves through
the performing arts.
Now how did Into
the Spotlight fall together in the first place, and what made you
want to produce it?
August through February in the annual Spotlight Musical Theater, there’s
so much real life, drama, intrigue, romance, success, failure, loss, and
victory. We thought, what would it be like if we told that story?
Please do talk about the Belong
Disability program which also includes the Spotlight Musical
Theatre, as a whole for a bit, and how did it come into being?
the Spotlight specifically reflects the work of the Spotlight Musical
Theater program, one of the many programs offered by the Belong Disability
Program of Highland Park United Methodist Church. Belong welcomes people
of all abilities, ages, and faiths to be a part of an adaptive, inclusive
community and offers every program at no cost.
The Belong Disability Program began in 1999, and about 13 years ago, we
realized there was a huge need for young adults and teens who were
approaching age 21 and beyond, who didn’t have a lot of fellowship and
community activities. With Sue Ringle, Spotlight Musical Theater was
established and for six months each year this group of adults with
disabilities from across the Dallas-Fort Worth area gather every Saturday
to create, rehearse, and then perform a completely original
musical. They devise their own roles and story to share with the audience
during two shows in February to a packed house.
Today, in addition to musical theater, Spotlight includes a short film program
and a rock music program. Each year, around 70 people sign up to
participate in one of the three and are selected through a lottery so that
everyone who wants to share their creative gifts has an opportunity to do so.
were the challenges of making Into
the Spotlight from a producer's point of view?
have a wonderful producer and director, and we told them to chisel
something out of the marble and let’s see what comes out. We knew there
was a story to tell, but didn’t have in mind what the end product would
look like. We brought in a documentary film crew to follow these amazing
actors and go into their homes, go into their work on the stage, and
follow them around for about a year, documenting their lives and their
work on this play. What’s so amazing about this process is that the
protagonists felt comfortable and took the opportunity to tell their own
personal stories throughout this process, and in post-production we
realized we had so much great material to work with and create this film.
talk about Into the
Spotlight's director Thaddeus D. Matula, and what was your
is an Emmy Award-winning director who finds purpose in the gift of
storytelling, and we’re fortunate to have him on our team to shine a
light on causes we all hold dear. This team effort fuels a process and
production that seeks to share the messages of acceptance, resilience, and
What can you tell us about the
shoots as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
We get to help them amplify voices that haven't truly been heard or amplified
in this way. It also provided an unexpected and welcoming platform to
share the world as they see it.
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results?
The links below
will take you
What ended up truly setting this film apart is that the film’s subjects tell
their own stories from their own personal perspectives. So many of the
documentaries that deal with the disabled community tend to have experts
or parents talking about how those with disabilities feel and what their
life is like. This is strictly through the lens of these individuals who
are telling their own stories, in their own words, and sharing what their
lives are like.
The $64-question of course, where can Into
the Spotlight be seen?
the Spotlight qualified for a submission at the Academy
Awards®, and it can be seen at several film festivals coming up in February 2024.
Anything you can tell us
about audience and critical reception of Into
Throughout this journey of making the film and screening it at festivals, I’ve been
so incredibly inspired by those who view the film and tell us how
heartwarming, uplifting, and inspiring it is to THEM. The healing,
positive, joyful experience of illuminating others’ abilities and seeing
viewers relate to these actors and be inspired to create programs like
this in their own communities is incredible. The film has been accepted to
screen at over 20 festivals around the world, and to date has won 15
awards - that’s incredible and we’re so proud of the message this film
is sharing with audiences!
Your/your movie's website, social media,
Follow on Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/intothespotlightdoc
- and Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Intothespotlightdoc/
Thanks for the interview!