DISLECKSIA: THE MOVIE is an engaging documentary that weaves vintage classroom footage, celebrity interviews and the comedic touch of dyslexic director Harvey Hubbell V into an engrossingly entertaining film on a serious subject. In the first film to discuss dyslexia as a learning difference, not a learning disability, Hubbell rallies a team of celebrated neuroscientists, heroic educators, high profile celebrities and business leaders with dyslexia who are advocates of Harvey’s beliefs. The subjects of the film showcase the most up-to-date information and in doing so, a blueprint emerges on how best to manage this learning difference that up to 1.4 billion people cope with daily.
The film includes a wide range of successful individuals with dyslexia including entertainment industry people such as Billy Bob Thornton, Joe Pantoliano, and Stephen J. Cannell; business moguls such as real estate guru Barbara Corcoran and celebrated neuroscientists and top educators within the dyslexia field.
Bijan Tehrani: What originally motivated you to make DISLECKSIA: THE MOVIE?
Harvey Hubbell V: Well, the thing is I’m dyslexic. I know that there are so many other people who are also dyslexic and we have many high powered people who wanted to participate, like Billy Bob Thornton. When those people started working with us, we realized we had an incredible story to tell to the 35 million Americans who are dyslexic, and the 1.4 billion people on the planet who are dyslexic. Dyslexia is something that is so misunderstood. A lot of people know about autism right now and it affects 1 in 60 people; Dyslexia affects 1 in 5, yet so few people know about dyslexia—they think it’s just about switching letters around. So we realized how important it was to make a film that could take information—scientific information—and break it down so the layman could understand it. One of the things we hear all the time is that every teacher should see this film; every parent of a dyslexic child should see it, people with and without disability should see it. The difference between our film and so many other films that we are touching base with this subject is that we don’t see it as a disability; we see it as a difference. You only become disabled after someone can’t teach you how to read.
BT: You bring a sense of humor to your films, how much does humor help grab the attention of the audience?
HH: I think it is very important, I like having people think when they watch a film. I have heard that people come out of the theater smarter than when they walked-in. When you laugh, you are open to more and when you are happy your consciousness is raised and people don’t have to become depressed when they watch a film. The thing about dyslexia is that there is stigma and there is pain involved in this. If you get past that you can realize your gifts, your gifts that you can give to the world. The word dyslexia describes so many people of so many different ages, races, creeds and colors. It describes the worst things that they are—that they are bad with words—but it does not describe the good things that they have, and our film talks about all of the wonderful gifts that people have.
BT: Your film brings celebrities and well known people with Dyslexia to light.
HH: It started off when Derrick Gardner and I were working on this film and we had a brain scientist explain to us what is going on in the dyslexic mind. Next, we went went to educators. The film probably would not have gotten the critical acclaim that it did if it was just educators and scientists, however. We have the stories of parents and regular kids with dyslexia, along with stories from these successful people. To find out that these stars struggled and that these kids were in this same boat that the celebrities were in was fascinating.
BT: How did you come up with the visual style of your film?
HH: I have been working with Eric Gardner, who is a co-producer for “Shahs of Sunset” on the west coast. Every summer, Eric was working on “Survivor”, and when he came out to Connecticut, we would fill more parts of the story for “Dislecksia”. We had the visuals and we knew what we wanted, and we wanted to be able to tell the story of these scientist but we wanted it to be fun. We wanted the scientists to be heroes and we wanted it to work. We wanted the scene to be like “Reservoir Dogs” when they were crossing the streets. We would listen to the scientist talks and find out what kind of music the scientist liked and we would add that to it, so once you have a portrait of the scientist you can put it in and listen to the scientist tell their story. Our goal was to was hit the widest possible audience so people would be able to relate and they would see that celebrities were humans just like them and struggled just like they did. Then, the scientists would be able to explain dyslexia, and why people process differently. So, for the style, we wanted to have a lot of fun with it. We didn’t want it to be a boring documentary. We thought, lets make it look like a 1940s style educational film. We were able to go back and show footage of kids having a tough time in school, and it could show that maybe the way we were teaching was not working and we need to reach our kids in better ways.
BT: The style worked very well! We appreciate you taking time to speak with CWB about your work. Thank you!