A young dyslexic child falls into a world made entirely out of books. Alone in the environment, he is forced to climb a mountain representing the education system.
Interview with Writer, Director and Producer Mads Johan Øgaard & Katie Noel Wyman
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Mads: Thank you! I wanted to create the film based on my own experiences dealing with dyslexia to show how it may feel to be dyslexic in today's society. It was very important for me not only to confront my own struggles but to educate and help those who work with and have these learning differences themselves. Sadly there is still surprisingly very little understanding of these differences, especially in the education system.
Over time working on the project it became less based on my own experiences and more focused on how everyone with a learning difference may feel through the school system.
Katie: When Mads first pitched the short film idea of a young boy struggling with homework, and the visual of a small child standing before a mountain of books it was a feeling I could strongly relate to. I too struggled a lot in school, trying to keep up with the never-ending wave of homework. I’m sure there were some unresolved frustrations in there. I felt passionate about helping Mads refine this idea, and really we just wanted to make something relatable for anyone else who might be struggling with the same emotions.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
Mads: To gain an understanding of how those around you with learning differences may feel in everyday life.
Katie: We wanted to put you in this character’s shoes, for you to feel frustrated when he does, and to feel loved and accepted like the character feels at the end of the film. I think it’s important to feel these things, and know that you are never alone in your struggles. There will always be someone who can relate to you.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Mads: The film approaches an individual's struggle caused by today's society, what we have seen from the film's festival run so far is that this struggle is a universal one, it does not matter what age you are or which country you come from. The feeling is the same!
Katie: This film started with a feeling that both Mads and I could relate to. The feeling of being kids, and struggling with mountains of work at school. It’s apparent to me that some people really ‘get’ the film and relate to it, finding a sense of validation from the main character’s experiences. While other people cannot relate to the experience at all. This surprised me at first, but it makes sense when I started realising that the majority of people who connected most strongly to the character, tend to be those who have experienced a learning difference in school for themselves or people who have watched their children, brothers, sisters struggle in school in this way. It surprised me to realise that not everyone goes through these struggles (I thought it was normal), but I think that’s what makes this an important subject to address.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
Mads: Like every other film productions, our also went through several changes over it´s one and a half year in the making. We worked on the story longer than many of the other student films that year, it was important for us to get it as relatable as possible. We worked on the story whilst other finished sections of the story were animated.
The film`s core message was present from the beginning, though the visual representation of this message evolved and only got stronger over time, thanks to our large crew, teachers, family members and friends, who shared their individual experiences and struggles.
Katie: I officially joined the project after Mads pitched the initial concept in September of 2015. It took a long time to nail down the story, many hours of brainstorming and script attempts, but it really started coming together after we started working visually. I remember Mads had an entire wall in the studio taken up by rough storyboards. Keeping the process visual really helped. The toughest part was keeping the story short. We so badly wanted Johan (the main character) to explore this amazing world of paper that he had fallen into, so the toughest part, I think, was making sure he kept climbing that mountain.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Mads: The majority has been incredibly positive! We are blown away by the support and the enormous interest people have shown! It has already been used for educational purposes in both Norway and the United Kingdom.
It really does something to you when your receive emails from people thanking you for creating the film and that it have changed their own or their child´s life. It just shows how important this message is!
Katie: Agreed. Our feedback has been major positive. For the most part, those who can relate to the story get very invested with it. It has felt good to be able to help make something that people can relate to. It’s nice to hear people fall silent while the film is playing, it’s nice to hear them listening and feel the emotions in the air change.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
Mads: I can only talk for myself here but yes definitely!
My own beliefs and experiences have definitely been challenged several times the last year, not only because of I AM DYSLEXIC but also because after I finished my animation degree, I went to study a Masters degree in Special Educational Needs, where both my views and the film's message has been challenged quite a bit. Even though as I said above that this is a universal "feeling" different countries have different ways of looking at these learning differences.
Probably one of the most shocking things for me has been all the people out there with a very destructive self-image, that do not believe in messages like I AM DYSLEXIC is portraying and almost refuse to see things in a more positive light.
There will always be people with different views and opinions, it has only made my views stronger and made me believe even more in the message of I AM DYSLEXIC!
Katie: This may sound selfish, but more than anything the feedback about this film has really helped to boost my self-confidence. For this I am thankful. I have always been the type of person in the past to shy away from compliments, but I am starting to realise how important they are to take on board, and it is important to realise that the media content you put into the world really does affect people. Filmmakers hold a big responsibility, in the way that they give viewers a place to escape to when times are tough, how they put you in the eyes of characters, and help you experience lives and lessons you may never have known before. I hope I can try and do justice with this duty in the future years of my career.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
Mads: To reach even more people, that potentially haven't been able to go to the festivals or screenings. We do hope of course that the film will go viral so it reaches out to those who would benefit the most from the film's message!
If the film can inspire at least one more person to get a better future or give someone else a better future it's worth it!
Katie: Cartoons were something that really helped me get through school, and if our film is able to help anyone else in that way, that’d just be amazing.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Mads: Anyone that's interested in sharing the message really! Especially educators, teachers, schools, parents, governments and associations!
Katie: We just want to extend our reach. If anyone would like to show this film in schools, feel free to contact us, share it. We just want to help it reach our target audience.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
Mads: The big aim has always been if I AM DYSLEXIC could inspire change in the education system in some sort of way, and to potentially change the lives of many young individuals that struggle and may struggle in the future!
Katie: For me, I just hope that it gives any kids who may be struggling with these emotions, something that they can relate to. Maybe this film will be able to make these issues a little easier to talk about. One of the reason it’s called ‘I AM DYSLEXIC’, is also to try and get the sentence a little easier to say. We do not want Dyslexia to be something anyone is ashamed of.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Mads: What does it feel like to have a learning difference in today's society? It's always so much focus on what the diagnosis is but as the child or the one with the diagnosis you rarely get asked if the support you receive or received actually helped or not. From my own experience, there is this assumption that what is written in the handbook is the only way to do something, but no one asks the student if it actually works for them or not.
Katie: I think that a key question this film may leave people with is, “what is dyslexia?”. I was shocked when I joined my university at how few people knew what it was. Maybe in future, this subject will be easier to talk about, if it is easier to talk about I hope people will be more willing to listen when a kid asks for help.
Would you like to add anything else?
Mads: Thank you to everyone that worked on this film! Without you guys this film and my current life would not have become reality, I love you all!
Katie: Nicely said Mads. Yes, this would not have been possible without all of the people who dedicated their hours and helped make this film a reality. Also, thank you to anyone who helps share this message.
I AM DYSLEXIC will be released in early December 2017
So make sure to follow our social media to get notified!
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
Mads: I am currently doing a Master in Special Educational Needs at Exeter University in England.
In early March, the book I illustrated ( in I AM DYSLEXIC style) in collaboration with, infoliten.no and Dyslexia Norway was released in Norwegian. It is a book about dyslexia for children and teens, keep an eye open for an English release soon!
When my studies are over in early September I plan to move back to Norway and go freelance, I am already in touch/working with several clients, in both Norway and the United Kingdom to create illustrations and or animations.
Katie: I’m now trying to find my own path in the creative world. I’ve been working on a children’s illustration book and other freelance animation projects. Maybe one day I will try applying to animation studios, but for now, my heart is set on telling a few of my own stories.
Interview: May 2017
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
I AM DYSLEXIC
A young dyslexic child falls into a world made entirely out of books. Alone in the environment, his is forced to climb a mountain representing the education system.
Length: 06:22 minutes
Director: Mads Johan Øgaard & Katie Noel Wyman
Producer: Mads Johan Øgaard & Katie Noel Wyman
Writer: Mads Johan Øgaard & Katie Noel Wyman
About the writer, director and producer:
Mads is a Norwegian born in 1993. He has recently graduated Falmouth University with a first class honours degree in Animation and VFX. Since then Mads has started his Master's degree in special education at Exeter University. He has just finished illustrating a book in collaboration with the Norwegian Dyslexia foundation titled 'Dysleki Norge' (Dyslexia Norway). This book is an informative book about Dyslexia and is aimed at children and teenagers and features the characters in his student film I AM DYSLEXIC.
His dream is to help as many as possible with and without a learning difference, to find the best way to help them learn! Mads is proud to be a Dyslexic and Dyscalculic individual!
Bio about Katie Wyman
Katie Wyman is a filmmaker born in London 1994. As a teenager, she drew comics and rarely spent much time outside. At age 19 she animated a stop motion project which now has over 25,000 views on YouTube. She has recently graduated Falmouth University with a first class honours degree in Animation and VFX. Katie is proud to be associated with 'I AM DYSLEXIC' which she co-directed and co-produced with Mads Johan Øgaard in their final year of university.
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists):
Anyone interested in screening and or promoting the film!
And/Or anyone that is interested in working with us, please contact us!
Social media handles:
Mads Johan Øgaard:
Facebook (art): https://lnkd.in/dVKymRj
Katie Noel Wyman:
I AM DYSLEXIC's twitter:
Made in association with:
Where can I see it in the next month?
Plymouth Film Festival!
May 27th-29th, Plymouth, England
Geek Film Festival
July 14-16 ( North Carolina ) and again July 27-30 ( Florida)