Spotlighting filmmaker Joe Blandamer for Autism Awareness Week

30 Mar 2020

5 mins
Prolific animator and Into Film Award nominee Joe Blandamer
Prolific animator and Into Film Award nominee Joe Blandamer

With World Autism Awareness Week now upon us (30 March - 5 April), we wanted to shine the spotlight on 2020 Into Film Award nominee*, Joe Blandamer (19) who has Asperger Syndrome and is also one of our most committed and accomplished filmmakers/animators.

*While the Into Film Awards ceremony sadly couldn't go ahead as planned due to the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) situation, we are working on alternate ways to announce and celebrate the winners in the near future.

I hope that the awareness week will highlight how wonderful people on the spectrum are. It should never be seen as an issue and we should all celebrate those that have a different perspective on life as it's what keeps the world an interesting place.

2020 Into Film Award nominee, Joe Blandamer (19)

Joe's film, Overload (nominated for Best Animation) is a particularly powerful and essential tool in a week like this as it explores first-hand what it's like to have autism and be in a triggering situation; in this case, feeling overwhelmed on a crowded underground train. Joe's main inspiration for creating the stop motion short was to show how it truly feels to be on the spectrum so the film can be used by teachers and students alike to encourage a greater understanding and sense of empathy towards anyone with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).

Joe made this film completely alone, which took about a year of work and included some 11-hour days. The time commitment was so extensive as he ambitiously chose to animate multiple characters at a time to make the film busier and more intense - moving several characters and taking multiple pictures meant that a couple seconds of animating took one or two hours.

Joe commented on what animation means to him, specifically as someone with Asperger Syndrome: "Animating has helped me with my Asperger's because it has given me an outlet to communicate my ideas, My new film Overload helped me explain the way my Asperger's affects me. I get so fixated whilst animating that I accidentally spend an entire day animating without breaks because it brings me such an intense feeling. If it wasn't for my Asperger's I wouldn't be animating!"

Before this year Joe had already enjoyed a long and successful relationship with the Into Film Awards. He was the recipient of the coveted Ones to Watch Award in 2016 and since then has been nominated for Best Animation on three separate occasions - first in 2017 for Snap!, then in 2019 for Twang! and finally for Overload.

Joe has been animating for over 12 years and has always had a love of creativity. As a child he was constantly drawing and making comics, and when he received an old computer from his aunt at 7 years old, he taught himself how to animate. Shortly after that he received a webcam and some plasticine so started animating constantly. He sent one of those animations to a local Exeter film festival and won first prize. After that, he sent his films to as many film festivals as possible as he loved seeing his hard work up on screen as well as occasionally winning the category. Some of his biggest achievements include getting over 2 million views on YouTube with the horror animation Inside the Human Lab, winning "Best International Film by a Young Person under 18" at the Mice International Film festival (Valencia, Spain), winning "Best Young Filmmaker" and "Best Independent Film" across all age categories at Leeds Young Film Festival and winning "Best Teenage Film" at St Neots Film festival. He has also had his films screened in film festivals across Australia, Tunisia, Croatia, Italy and Spain.

For more material on the fascinating and varied relationship between autism and film, check out some inspiring case studies, young person made films and articles below: 

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