Dave Thomas has worked as a director, producer and writer for many of Ireland’s media including RTÉ, Newstalk, and the national press. His work, including the RTÉ Radio series Outside the Box, has won several awards. Thomas has recently launched a crowdfunding campaign in an effort to raise €20,000 to make his ambitious short film Aretha, a story about a young woman with Down Syndrome, which will be produced by Actually Films.
A co-founder of APIC, the first national arts centre for people with disabilities in Ireland and winning several major awards, Thomas then launched the first conference on “Disability and Sexuality”in Ireland, the first arts & disability radio series and co-founded the first ever arts magazine for people with disabilities. Now Thomas’ efforts to provide public platforms for people with disabilities extends to film, with Thomas looking for funding to make a short film that tackles misconceptions people have about disability and the capability of people with disabilities to be independent.
In Aretha, an inspiring and heart-warming story about a young girl with Down Syndrome starting out in her independent life, Thomas continues his campaign to place a positive spotlight on the issue of disability. Upon applying for her dream job in a café, Aretha is saddened to experience discrimination and bullying. About the background to the film Dave Thomas has said:
“Having suffered bullying as a child myself due to a minor disability this project is very close to my heart and I want this film to give a voice to people who are often seen but not heard, talked about but not talked to”.
The short aims not to moralise, but to present the reality of people with disabilities and their capability to work, drawing attention to the often difficult and hurtful situations people with disabilities can find themselves in while trying to live their lives.
A promotional video for Aretha was made in October in Filmbase in Dublin with the participation of the Tivoli Hills Special Olympics athletes Tara, Joe and Jack, Jennifer Malone the Kildare GAA supporter who won Irish hearts consoling Waterford’s Pauric Mahony in this year’s All-Ireland Football Championship, Film&TV Student Alannah Murray, Lord Mayor of Dublin Brendan Carr and Orla Clancy, a model from Down Syndrome Ireland who has modelled on Ireland AM and who played Aretha.
Auditions for the short will be held mid-January with production to start shortly afterwards. However before a frame of film can be shot, the funds must be raised to make the film a reality. Thomas aims for the money raised on the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo to help to pay the actors, employ a competent and creative film crew and particulatly to market the film to festivals and distributors globally, in the hopes that the film will resonate with the widest possible audience.
Music for the short film will be composed by Dan O’Neill, a graduate from the Berklee School of Music with a master’s degree in Scoring for Film TV and Video games. He has scored a range of films screened at the Cork Film Festival, the Galway Film Fleadh and the LA Film Festival. The film also aims to secure the rights to the all-time classic Respect by Aretha Franklin.
Pledges to support the Aretha project can be made here at Indiegogo.