Writer/director: Adam Goldhammer
Producer: Evan Landry
Jesse is a film based on my relationship with my sister, Ilana, who has autism: those beautiful moments when I really feel connected to her and the times when she loses control and I feel helpless.
My goal was to show a depiction of autism both honest to my experiences with Ilana and unlike those I had seen in prior films, so that when an audience member of my film encounters an individual with autism or their caregiver in a difficult situation, they can understand and empathize.
It is important to note that this film is not meant to be typical of all individuals with autism. Since autism is a spectrum, it includes high functioning individuals who can participate very capably at work and have satisfying relationships.
Portraying a character with autism authentically was perhaps the most important component of the film.
Jake Epstein and I spent three months prior to the shoot working on his character. We spent time with my sister and her friends, observing behavioural traits specific to them as well as intonations and voice cadences of their speech.
No work was done prior to the shoot on the actual scenes in the film, as I wanted to keep the actors genuine. Instead, Jake and Hannah Anderson (who also spent time with my sister and myself, observing our relationship together) improvised the day-to-day flow of their life, in order to build a relationship and history with one another.
During the shoot, Jake would remain in character as Jesse for large portions of the day. It was his and Hannah’s dedication and openness on set and in rehearsal that led to the authenticity of their characters.
This filmmaker’s statement is taken from http://www.nsi-canada.ca/2014/04/jesse/.