You are already an accomplished producer and director but this is your first feature documentary film. What inspired you to create this documentary?
My professional background is in tv and film and I’ve always worked for big companies. I did what I was told to do with the subject I was given. When you’re a creative, you’re always looking for what your project will be. When it came time to make my own film, what would be my story to tell? It’s not easy to make an independent film with limited resources. I needed to be passionate about the subject and willing to accept the struggle of financing and producing it.
In the meantime, life is happening. I had three kids and one was diagnosed on the autism spectrum. Because of that, I became an expert on autism. Since drowning is the leading cause of death for kids on the autism spectrum (they have an atypical lack of fear) it was really important for our family to be water safe. When it came time to find a swim program, I came across the New Jersey Hammerheads, and it was such a refreshing experience. The McQuays (Mike and Maria who coach the team) were so motivated and positive that I was just swept up in their enthusiasm. I felt like I needed to have the positivity and the energy of the Team in my own life. This was clearly a story that needed to be told.
It can be difficult for kids on the spectrum to find opportunities to participate in sports. Can you talk about why the Hammerheads Swim Team is valuable to your community?
Sports are crucial for community building. We live in the suburbs and sports are so important when raising kids; not only for their health but also for their social interactions. Sports are a great way to form friendships and form community bonds. These bonds and relationships can develop as early as age two.
If your child is different, it’s so much harder for them to participate. Organizations are not necessarily open or welcoming to children with special needs. It can be very isolating not only for the child, but also for families .Your ‘typical’ families may take this for granted, but sports practice and competitions can be a great way for parents to share information and socialize. For the families on the New Jersey Hammerheads, they didn’t have a place to meet and socialize with other families. The Hammerheads offered them the opportunity to make friends, share information and not feel so isolated. The Swim Team is so valuable to this community because these families formed bonds and relationships that they wouldn't have otherwise.