Laughing at dyslexia may not sound a very right-on or ‘woke’ think to do but that’s exactly what documentary I Am Dyslexic encourages us all to do.
The documentary has been created by Stratford-upon-Avon film-maker Thom Davies, and has just scooped first place at the Leamington Film Festival, beating 17 other short films.
Thom tells Herald arts he is delighted to have won, having entered many film festivals previously with no success. “I was amazed and shocked,” he says.
I Am Dyslexic is a joy to watch (see link below). It’s quirky, informative, light-hearted, inspirational and full of moving accounts from Thom and others speaking directly to camera about their own experiences of living with dyslexia.
Like many, Thom, who was given a damming diagnoses of ‘severe dyslexia’ aged four, with his parents told he would probably not ever be able to properly read and write (see Thom’s blog below).
While dyslexia causes a whole range of often misunderstood problems, Thom was keen to express an upbeat message in the film.
Speaking about his motivation for making the film, Thom explains: “I watched a film about young boys with dyslexia, they were unhappy and it was really sad, it had no humour whatsoever. I didn’t like that. I never wanted to be told what I couldn’t do, only what I could do. I think it’s important that young kids have their confidence built up. When I was young I used to pretend I had bad eyesight rather than dyslexia, but now I’m proudly dyslexic, and want kids to feel the same thing.”
He continues: “While I was at college I made a shorter version of I Am Dyslexic and it got a great response with lots of people thanking me.”
Tom promoted #IAmDyslexic across social media, and many of those that picked up on the hashtag campaign contributed to his documentary and shared images of themselves waving homemade posters proudly bearing their dyslexia credentials.
The film uses animation, jolly tunes, a baddie called Dic Lexia and funny inputs from a puppet Albert Einstein to underline its positive message, and to help viewers better understand the condition. Genius Einstein was of course famously dyslexic.
It was especially important to Tom that I Am Dyslexic should contain humour. “I knew I wanted animation and comedy sketches, and to find successful people and try and tell their stories in comical way. Many of them had sad stories from childhood, but actually when those stories are shared you can see the humour in them, and when things are funny they become less destructive and negative. As Thom points out during the film: “When you laugh at dyslexia it loses control over you.”
What message does he want the film to convey?
“Too often dyslexia destroys confidence, and so I hope this builds confidence, and makes people proud of who they are.”
When not making films, Thom, like his dad, works as a painter and decorator in the area, and he credits many of their clients with chipping in funds for the Kickstarter campaign which funded the film. A truly Stratford-made film.
Next up Thom says he’s looking at working with his wife, illustrator Lauren Davies, on a children’s book; and is also hoping to work on a film about homelessness.
WHERE AND WHEN: To see the I Am Dyslexic online visit www.iamdyslexic.co.uk. There is a showing of the film at Leamington Spa Centre on 15th February at 7.30pm. To buy tickets visit www.warwickdc.gov.uk