Blackstone LaunchPad, VPA and InclusiveU team up to create Micro-Short Film

A creative micro-short film, “Third Shift,” co-produced by the Blackstone LaunchPad, InclusiveU, and VPA film and design students, will have its world premiere, Friday, April 26 at 1 p.m. at a year-end celebration in Huntington Hall Commons. All are welcome to attend.

The project hatched last fall when The Blackstone LaunchPad at SU Libraries sponsored an inclusive entrepreneurship workshop with students in the InclusiveU program as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week. InclusiveU is an initiative of the Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education, committed to individualized and inclusive higher educational opportunities for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The workshop was facilitated by Jake deHahn ’19, a VPA industrial and interaction design student and Blackstone LaunchPad Global Media Fellow. A student entrepreneur, deHahn is the founder of Bowtie Boulevard, and interested in inclusive design for people of all abilities.  That is also the topic of research for his 5th year design thesis, also set to debut this month.  Born profoundly deaf, he is an unilateral cochlear implant user who proudly shares his personal story at conferences around the nation.  He was recently a featured speaker at Syracuse University’s Human Library, with the message that a disability shouldn’t stop anyone from defying stigmas and dreaming big.

deHahn says his passion as a designer drives him to make the world a more accessible place. “Having a disability makes you see the world in a different, unique way.” Whenever he can, he tries to immerse himself among those with different abilities. “InclusiveU is a wonderful community of creative, intelligent, and caring people.”

At the fall inclusive entrepreneurship workshop, the students discussed what they were passionate about. The group quickly came to a consensus that a startup film company would be a great way to learn entrepreneurship, and so InclusiveU Productions was launched. Through early spring, InclusiveU students worked with the Blackstone LaunchPad, and VPA film students to learn how to create and produce a movie.

InclusiveU students conceived of the story, wrote the script, starred in the movie, and assisted in all aspects of production planning.

deHahn helped as production designer, while Peter Hartsock ’19, a VPA film student and co-founder of student startup 410 Pictures, was the cinematographer and editor. Janie Kahan ’19, a VPA film student who is an advocate for those with disabilities, directed the movie. Kahan has a special interest in inclusive education, promoting the use of American Sign Language in children’s media while interning for DreamWorks. She says, “Growing up using American Sign Language in my home, deaf culture has become a large influence in my life. Using my experience and a new connection with the National Association of the Deaf, I was able to educate the DreamWorks executives on the culture, linguistics, and how to properly represent a deaf character in a children’s television show. I plan to advocate for disability representation in my film and tv career.”

“Third Shift,” stars InclusiveU students Delvon Waller, Gabriella Iannotti, and Ryan Gorke. The film would not have been possible without the InclusiveU student crew who played key production roles as well — Delvon Waller as screenwriter, Jon Rushmore as art, production, effects and food services, Anthony Canestrare as music consultant, and Xavier Jefferson on pre-production and planning.

Waller said, “I was really excited to see what I wrote to come to life. Throughout hard work and determination, you can accomplish anything. No matter what people think or tell you!”

Those who were a part of the project are very proud of the final result. deHahn noted, “All the actors, behind the scenes folks, and students brought their own unique twist to the film. Delvon, the main character, curated a funny and clever screenplay, and it was exciting to see his idea come to life.  But more importantly, it was wonderful to be witness to such a passionate collaboration.”

“Third Shift” was filmed in the spooky basement of Huntington Hall and is a suspenseful comedy horror short, with a surprise ending. The cast and crew invites the campus community to see the first InclusiveU production at Syracuse University.  The film starts promptly at 1 p.m., and is a micro-short, so don’t be late.





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