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An Interview with Paul Rasmussen, Producer of Into the Spotlight

by Mike Haberfelner

December 2023

Films produced by Paul Rasmussen on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Into the Spotlight - in a few words, what's it about?


Into 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?


From 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?


Into 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.


What were the challenges of making Into the Spotlight from a producer's point of view?


We 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.


Do talk about Into the Spotlight's director Thaddeus D. Matula, and what was your collaboration like?


Thaddeus 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 humanity.


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.


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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?


Into 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 the Spotlight?


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, whatever else?



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Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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Thanks for watching !!!



In times of uncertainty of a possible zombie outbreak, a woman has to decide between two men - only one of them's one of the undead.


There's No Such Thing as Zombies
Luana Ribeira, Rudy Barrow and Rami Hilmi
special appearances by
Debra Lamb and Lynn Lowry


directed by
Eddie Bammeke

written by
Michael Haberfelner

produced by
Michael Haberfelner, Luana Ribeira and Eddie Bammeke


now streaming at


Amazon UK





Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from