Contributed photo Niek Theelan and Jessica Swainson’s characters attempt to get to know each other in the Red Deer-made film, ‘The Worst Date Ever.’

Red Deerians with disabilities help create ‘Worst Date’ film over a weekend

The short was submitted for Easterseals film challenge

A short film made over a weekend by Central Albertans with disabilities is in the running for an international Easterseals film contest.

The plot of The Worst Date Ever concerns everything going wrong when two young people with cerebral palsy attempt a first date – including a runaway car, a hysterical support worker, and a fright-induced pant-peeing incident.

Producer Jason Steele, who teaches film and theatre at The Hub on Ross, is hoping for far better luck in real life, having submitted the five-minute short to the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge.

The international competition seeks to raise public awareness of all the things disabled people can do (one criteria is that people with disabilities be involved in the project), as well as to burst misconceptions about the limitations of people with physical challenges.

Steele, who with a previous team of disabled people created Coconuts, a second-place winning puppetry film from the Central Alberta Film Festival, is pleased to be able to again showcase the multiple talents of various patrons of The Hub.

Among them are Jessica Swainson, lead writer for The Worst Date Ever and one of the film’s principal players, and Niek Theelan, who plays the other half of the dating couple.

Both Swainson and Theelan have cerebral palsy. Linnea Hass, who depicts the freaked-out support worker, has Asperger’s.

Steele said the slap-stick film goes to extremes to put across the message: Stop underestimating people with disabilities. “You need to be supportive, but you don’t need to stop them, or treat them in an infantile way.”

He understands most of us don’t mean to talk down to people with disabilities, but it often happens “and we’d like to see that improved.”

The Easterseals contest winners will be announced May 10.

In the meantime, The Worst Date Ever can be seen on YouTube by searching the film’s title and Easterseals film challenge.

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