In a Different Key

A film by Caren Zucker and John Donvan

In a Different Key A Project of Filmmakers Collaborative

About this film:

In a Different Key

February 2018. Exciting Update! Thanks to your support, we are 40 percent of the way toward reaching our $1 million fundraising target -- enough to start filming! Our first location shoot is out the door, taking our crew to Phoenix, AZ. Still to come: Mississippi, Los Angeles, Baltimore, and other locales where autism history was made.

About this film:

Producers: Caren Zucker and John Donvan

Emmy-winning journalists Caren Zucker and John Donvan bring to documentary film the set of stories that made a bestseller of their acclaimed book, In A Different Key, The Story of Autism. A 2017 Pulitzer Prize finalist, this narrative account of an unheralded civil rights movement was called "cinematic" by the Washington Post, and described by the New York Times "as if…filmed with a handheld camera." This project aims to make its visual storytelling truly visual, by putting autism's stunning and turbulent history on screen for the first time.

We believe a story well-told has the power to change minds and open hearts. That is the material impact we aim for with In a Different Key, the first-ever full-length documentary to travel the timeline of society's tense and sometimes misguided response to people on the autism spectrum. It is our conviction, as journalists with personal connections to autism, that such a film can bring communities everywhere to greater understanding of the challenges faced by some of their most vulnerable members, and often their families as well, up to the present day. Recognizing that many viewers may still be unsure what autism represents, or how to interact with autistic people, the film will engage that audience's empathy and its intellect with an unflinching historical account of the neglect, abuse and misunderstanding that were once so common, while also pointing to the many challenges that remain today. Including significant first-person contributions from contemporary autistic individuals, who today number an estimated 3 million Americans, In a Different Key will also highlight communities that figured out how to do it right, realizing ways to surround those who are "different" with authentic acceptance, inclusion and the thing we all prize: friendship. A central theme of In a Different Key is it not that hard, after all, to have someone else's back, whether in neighborhoods, workplaces or classrooms. And that when we figure that out, everyone will be better for it.

There is a special urgency is getting this film made now, as we risk losing the voices of activists who began their work 40, 50 and 60 years ago. At the same time, we have been fortunate to have spent time with our friend, Donald Triplett – the first child diagnosed with autism. Now in his 80s, he appears in the trailer above, and will have significant presence in the finished film, along with his community, which is one of those that got it "right."

The film is being produced in conjunction with BraveDog Productions, by four-time Emmy award-winning Editor and Producer Ray Conley.


Supported by 31 Donations:

  • Lynne B.
  • Enid A.
    I Gave $500
  • Joelle S.
  • Nina  H.
    I Gave $500
  • Kerry  W.
    I Gave $1,000
  • betsy s.
    I Gave $1,000
  • mimi p.
    Caren thank you for coming to Omaha and inspiring us! Mimi
  • Janet B.
    I Gave $100
    A brilliant, ground-breaking, life-changing project -- so full of love and understanding! You've both done an incredible service to all!!
  • Sue g.
  • Amy H.
  • Ricki L.
  • Hope S.
  • Carlyn B.
  • Seth & Jodi  L.
  • Silhouette
    Anonymous
  • Tina G.
  • Joshua & Lily  S.
  • Stephanie  Y.
  • Dean & Fary  B.
    I Gave $500
  • Richard and Wendy Schneider
  • Silhouette
    Anonymous
    I Gave $500
    I was fortunate to attend an event in Phoenix and to hear Caren and John share their personal experiences. This film will make a difference!
  • Rahul C.
    I Gave $250
    Keep up the good work and make sure everyone sees this groundbreaking film.
  • Silhouette
    Anonymous
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    Anonymous
    I believe in the cause!
  • gary j.
    I Gave $10,000
    This is a great project (by extremely committed and talented film makers) to further educate people regarding a variety of issues related to autism.
  • Silhouette
    Anonymous
    In honor of Gary Jaburg
  • Stephen E.
    I Gave $1,000
    Your recent presentation to SARC was terrific and we look forward to seeing the film.
  • Eric S.
    I Gave $1,000
    Best of luck with your film and opening the eyes of many. Eric and Cody Schechter
  • Wendi S.
    In support of helping others learn and accept all those in the Autism community.
  • Paul O.
    I Gave $5,000