"A Miracle on Christmas," is just one of the latest movies being filmed in Kern County. But on this set, it's young adults with disabilities who are making movie magic. Ted Coleman is the film's autistic assistant director and writer.
"I've had a knack for writing since I was in junior high school and when I found out how simple it is to format a screen play I was like wow, I can do this," Coleman said.
And Coleman's doing it, he's written four screenplays for the Kern Film Workshop. "A Miracle on Christmas" is his latest story inspired by his mentor Joey Travolta.
"My mother used to tell us this story as children and we expanded on it," Travolta said. "Everyone of my brothers and sisters has a different version of it, but it's basically the same version."
Filmmaker Joey Travolta, actor John Travolta's older brother, has been working with disabled young adults for years through the Kern Film Workshop. It's here he teaches the art of movie making so students can learn skills to land a job in the film industry.
"We have craft services, we have script supervisors, we have our first AD," Travolta said. "Everybody fills a position and the movie that we make becomes the lesson plan."
In the industry, filmmakers talk about making movie magic. But here true magic happens when students like Jasmine Florez, a selective mute who doesn't speak, recites her lines.
"This is going to be the best Christmas ever," Jasmine said during a take.
Next year students will learn how to make feature length films, but perhaps the most important lesson they learn is that their skills are valued despite their disabilities.
"We appreciate the fact that if you have an artistic voice you don't have to be the most charming guy at the party and you can still have a valid place in this world," Jill Egland, Kern Arts Council, said.
The short film, "A Miracle on Christmas," will debut in early Spring 2012.