Sam Bateman, a young filmmaker from Adelaide, South Australia, recently submitted his film “Catsperger” to the Focus on Ability Film Festival. After viewing the film and its positive message about living with autism, we reached out to speak with him about his passion for filmmaking.

Sam began creating films in 2008 at age 12, but he did not finish his first full work until 2013. This first creation was a documentary entitled “The Dandy Lion,” featuring his then shaven cat, Ollie. Since then, Sam has gone on to create about one work a year, ranging from short animations to live action pieces such as “Catsperger” or the “Dandy Lion”.

While Sam feels that his true calling is within the world of animation (citing well known animators and cartoonists Walt Disney, Steven Hillenburg, Dave Polsky, and Jeff ‘Swampy’ Marsh as his greatest sources of inspiration), Sam is able to appreciate the processes of writing, directing, acting, editing, and other processes that go into a variety of different types of film making. This is something that is evident in his range of genres and styles implemented in his creations.

For the five films that Sam has created thus far, he has done everything from writing the script to acting. And it has paid off! Sam has won several awards for his work at the Focus on Ability Festival, including most online votes for his film ‘Aptitude with Attitude’, best animation and funniest film for his short, “Pinning Down on Luck”, and finally, the people’s choice awards for his first film, “The Dandy Lion”.

However, the film that Sam is most proud of is his most recent work, “Catsperger,” both because he believes it’s the most well put together, and because of its overall positive message. Inspired by the Book, “All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome” by Kathy Hoopman, this film is is about “…the pros and cons of my condition, Asperger’s syndrome, and how it’s best to just focus on the positives and to keep moving forward.” In the film, Sam compares his own behavior to that of his two cats, allowing the viewer a glimpse into their world.

Like the rest of Sam’s works, “Catsperger” took about two months to complete. This may sound like a long time, but is no surprise given the amount of work that each film requires. Nonetheless, while Sam creates each work almost entirely on his own, he was sure to mention how important the support and input from his family and friends have been. Whether it is providing insight into the finished product, or accompanying him to filming locations, Sam is incredibly grateful for their contribution.

A couple of other important family members who have contributed to his films include the co-stars of “Catsperger”, Cleo and Ollie. It is hard to miss the affection that Sam has towards his two feline friends, even if they do not always behave during filming. Nonetheless, Sam says that working with them is worth it because “they just look so beautiful on camera, and especially when they’re sleeping…I’ll try to make sure I get more footage of them for any upcoming shorts I might be working on since they’re just the best cats I’ve had so far.”

Of this process, Sam wants people to know that it is not as easy as some people make it look. “There’s actually a lot of effort that goes into choosing the right locations, writing the script, acting, etc. But if you just work hard and persevere, you might just pull off the message you are trying to convey with your story, even if it’s on a very low budget.”

While Sam is still waiting to see the results of the 2017 Focus on Ability Film Festival, his work has already been recognized by none other than Kathy Hoopman. According to her comment on his video, “…she’s glad that her book helped to inspire me to inspire others who may be on the spectrum. And it was an honor to have received recognition from her in such a touching way. I hope to make more films like this.”

We certainly hope so as well. To view more of Sam’s amazing work, be sure to check out his youtube channel.

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