OUCARES presents ‘Mr. Joey’s Block’ film



OUCARES presents a film showcasing the talents and creativity of youth who are on the autism spectrum. “Mr. Joey’s Block” premiered in the banquet rooms Saturday evening, Oct. 25, created during the film summer camp of 2014 under the guidance of actor producer and director Joey Travolta.

Within a two-week span, youth learned to write, direct, act and edit their films.

“OU was really the ones who got everything started,” Travolta said.

According to Travolta, about eleven years ago he interviewed a teenaged boy with autism that featured in a film festival, and led up to a feature-length film entitled Normal People Scare Me.

Articles were written about Travolta mentoring children and teens.

“OU got a hold of the articles and got in touch with me,” Travolta said. “I called back and said, ‘why don’t I come and bring my crew.’”

OUCARES Director Kathy Sweeny said this year’s film is for children between the ages of 11-18. According to Sweeny, the film camp is one of six in the country and is in its ninth year of operation.

Jared Weinberg, age 20, finished his last year as a participant in the camp. According to his mother Tracey, Weinberg started out as a participant at age 11.

“My experience was totally amazing,” Jared said. “During this film camp it feels like you’re in another world.”

“For me as a mom it was one of the best things that we’ve found,” Tracey said. “We knew right away that Jared wanted to do something like this because he loves movies. He feels comfortable here, so we’re going to miss it very much.”

Travolta discussed what the participants gain from the camp.

“They get so excited about the process of making a film because it’s so collaborative in nature that you’re forced to work together and be creative together and through that process you learn to communicate,” Travolta said. “Making a film is like a family. You learn to make friends. Plus, you’re learning technical skills and creative skills.”

Travolta was a special education instructor at an orphanage during the early 70s in New Jersey and then went into the entertainment business.  

“I loved working with the kids and I put all of my money back into the schools,” Travolta said. “These kids will blow your mind and it’s a matter of finding what their gift is and then presenting it to the world.” 

He also discussed how intuitive the kids are and how those producing gained from the experience as well.

“These kids are really, really smart and if you’re not sincere and love what you do, they’ll turn you off in a second.”

“When we have our screening and they get to show what they did and how they’ve collaborated, whether you’re an editor, whether you’re on the production team or the crew, you’re a part of something and it’s something you can share with people,” Travolta added.

For more information go to www.oakland.edu/oucares or email [email protected].