Todd Drezner received his MFA in film from Columbia University and is the editor of several documentaries that have been shown worldwide. Loving Lampposts: Living Autistic is the first film Todd has directed.
The film was screened at the United Nations as part of its World Autism Awareness Day observance in April 2011. It earned Best Feature Documentary at the Peace on Earth Film Festival in Chicago, the Social Consciousness Award at the VisionFest Film Festival in New York, and the Audience Award for Documentary at the Show Me Social Justice Festival in Warrensburg, MO.
Todd Talks About Making the Film…
“Interestingly, the last documentary I edited before I made Loving Lampposts was about a schizophrenic man who paints street scenes all over New York City. The film raised a lot of the same questions as Loving Lampposts does: ‘How do we define normal?’ ‘How do we respond to disability?’ ‘How can we help disabled people lead full lives?’ I had already been thinking about these issues when my son was diagnosed on the autism spectrum, and making Loving Lampposts was an obvious next step.
“Of course, there are many great documentaries about autism already out there, but most of them focus on a single autistic person or group of autistic people. I thought it was a good time to step back and take a look at how autism is perceived in our culture at a time when it’s more common than ever before. Inevitably, this led me to focus on the ongoing debate between those who see autism as a terrible disease and advocates of ‘neurodiversity,’ who view it as a natural variation of the human brain — a disability and a difference.
Todd’s son Sam, the inspiration for the film. “My son’s obsession with lampposts was a great way into this debate. How should I have responded to what was clearly autistic behavior? By trying to get rid of it? Or by accepting it?
“I wanted to make a film that respected both sides of the debate and allowed each of them to tell their stories. At the same time, I come down firmly on the side of neurodiversity. I believe that neurodiversity is often misinterpreted as ‘giving up’ on treating autism. It’s nothing of the sort. Neurodiversity is simply about recognizing that autistic people will always be autistic. Each autistic person will need different levels and types of support, and some will function better in the world than others. But we don’t gain anything by trying to ‘recover’ someone from autism. It’s far better to try to provide autistic people the support they need to live as fully as they can.”