New Film “Wizard Mode” Stands For Autism Community

R.E.G. If that name doesn’t strike pangs of sheer awe into your heart, you should brush up on international pinball stats. Robert Emilio Gagno is a 27-year-old professional pinball player from Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. After a scroll through his impressive pinball tournament record, it is easy to see how amazingly talented he is. Gagno has a great collection of national and state titles from 2012-2015 under his belt, earned by defeating thousands of competitive pinball players from around the world.

And, he has autism. But, Gagno and filmmakers Jeff Petry & Nathan Drillot show that the word “autism” is much more than a label- and definitely not the only thing that defines the identity of someone diagnosed with it.

Petry and Drillot work for Salazar Film, a production team based out of Vancouver, BC. For two years, they have worked with the Gagno family, to capture the story behind the pinball legend, and his experiences with auWizard Mode Pinballtism. The production team set up a crowdfunding campaign to produce and distribute a full feature length documentary, “Wizard Mode”, which shows the life of Gagno, and his relatable struggles with pinball, coming of age, and autism. In the span of only one month, they raised $43,615 USD from 453 people, and were able to end the campaign in just this past week, on October 23rd.

Even more inspiring is the message that the filmmakers and Gagno want to convey to people through the documentary: a message of inclusion and acceptance that speaks volumes to audiences, especially to those who constantly support a greater understanding of those with autism. Petry and Drillot state on their crowdfunding page, “No condition or perceived “label” should stop you from following the interests that bring you joy.”

In regards to his feelings toward the documentary, Gagno states,”I hope they’ll become more fascinated by the world of autism and do their own research. Hopefully people will buy more books about autism and talk about it more. Because then it will help people understand the people around them better and not just see them as a label.”

The documentary will be officially released throughout North America in 2016, but you can be updated on the progress of the film through the “Wizard Mode” Facebook page.  

By Samantha Mallari

This entry was posted in Autism Advocacy, Autism Awareness, Autism Films, Autism Media Coverage and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments are closed, but you can leave a trackback: Trackback URL.