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This summer, Spec Labs is bringing back its Digital Storytelling Workshop to help you create your own spectacular world! Team up online with Spec Labs’ mentors to bring original characters and stories to life in a fantasy world of your own design.


This hands-on program consists of five 60-minute sessions working one-on-one with Spec Labs’ instructors to make your story a reality. Each session will cover an important step in the storytelling process, from outline to final product.


Session One: Formulating Your Plot

The workshop’s first session will help you hone in on the original story for your short film. You’ll work with a writing instructor to pin down the details of your story’s plot. Together, you’ll brainstorm the people and places you want to exist within your world, and what that world might look like to viewers. From there, you’ll outline a script and be well on your way to sharing your story!


Session Two: Storyboarding Your Ideas

In session two, you’ll use the outline you created in the first session and build on it with the help of an art instructor. This session will help you determine how your story will translate visually to audiences. You’ll draft up illustrations and storyboard your ideas to plan out the different scenes and shots of your film.


Session Three: Scoring Your Film

Now that you’ve outlined the written and visual aspects of your story, it’s time to think about the musical tone you’d like to set for your film. In this session, you’ll work with a music instructor to create the score and underscore that will define your world. You might want a score that is upbeat and bouncy, or maybe your world is better suited to a calm, serene melody. This session is where these ideas will come to life!


Session Four: Crafting Your Voice

This session will give you the chance to breathe life into your characters with voiceover and narration techniques. You’ll get to practice voice acting and pick out the narrative style best suited for each of your characters.


Session Five: Your Story On-Screen

For the final session, you’ll use all of the progress you’ve made so far to bring your story off of the page and onto the screen. You’ll get the chance to select imagery to include throughout your film and even film original scenes that will be edited into your magical universe.


At the end of these five incredible sessions, your creative ideas will be passed onto our team of editors and compiled into a pride-worthy finished product. To celebrate the successful completion of your film, you’ll get to present your original story alongside other student creators at a viewing party and share your world for the first time in all its glory. Your short film will also be featured on our Spec Labs Youtube page for all to see!


Watch some of the work previously made in the program below and see how your world could come to life with the Spec Labs team. Visit Spec Labs’ Digital Storytelling Workshop page on Youtube to see more examples of the incredible student work made through this program.





This is Spec Labs’ third year of the Digital Storytelling program, and we hope, with your help, it will be our best yet! Follow this link or click on the banner below to find out how to enroll in this June’s Digital Storytelling Workshop and schedule the best session times for you. We can’t wait for you to be a part of the magic and help create your world!




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Updated: May 2, 2023

Hands is a love story unlike any you’ve seen before. The film has your typical 'boy meets girl, love at first sight' structure, but with a fresh new twist: boy and girl are–you may have guessed it–hands. The film follows the ups and downs of their touching relationship, from a park bench meet-cute to an unexpected finale.


The idea for this unconventional rom-com arose one Tuesday afternoon not too long ago at a Spec Labs’ film production class. The team was discussing this year’s Easterseals Disability Challenge–a five-day film challenge that celebrates and encourages disability inclusion. Each year the challenge gives filmmakers a new theme for their shorts to focus on. This year’s theme was everyone’s feel-good favorite: romance. The Spec Labs film class was sitting around discussing how best to approach the romance theme when student (and eventual male lead for the film) Shane McKaskle said, “What if they were hands?” And from that spur of genius, the wacky, loveable, fun-filled Hands was born.


I joined in as a volunteer to help Spec Labs create Hands for the challenge. My first film production class was spent practicing the art of hand acting. The lesson, led by Hands idea man, McKaskle, included expressions of excitement, sadness, and shock. Who knew my hand could be such a great actor! Later, we brainstormed hand-related puns to throw in as dialogue. A list of “two hands required” activities became the lyrics to the film’s love theme. My first experience was unusual, but an incredible way to immerse myself into the Spec Labs team, and completely indicative of the fun and heart that went into the making of this film.


The Early Stages: Hands leads, Shane McKaskle and Caroline Corry, rehearse the opening scene for the film.


And then it was filming day! The cast made their hands camera ready with decorative mustaches, bows, gloves, and jewelry. Each accessory added a little extra personality to the actor’s handy characters. The occasional bits of tension–common to every long day of filming–were always broken by laughter as googly-eye adorned hands came to life. The energy on set was upbeat, full of the same whimsy the actors brought to the screen in the finished product.


All Hands on Set: The Hands crew films a romantic scene for the film.


Being part of the making of Hands was such a rewarding experience, and there are so many things to love about the film. From Amos Stillwell’s Blue's Clues-esque visual designs, to the original song, “Can’t Clap Without You”, sung by Spec Labs’ student Dominique Brown, to the cast’s endearing performances that made hands emote as well as faces, Hands is not a film you’ll want to miss.


The Spectrum Laboratory team is so excited to share Hands with the world and promote autism, neurodiversity & disability inclusion in filmmaking! Make sure to click on the video below and watch this charming love story for yourself. We hope you have as much fun watching the film as we did making it!



-Michael Ware, Associate Producer of Hands

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This April 15th, make your way over to Fiesta Hall at Plummer Park for a screening of Spec Labs’ short film, Boys Don’t Wear Dresses! In honor of Autism Acceptance Month, the city of West Hollywood’s Disabilities Advisory Board, Transgender Advisory Board, and Women’s Advisory Board are putting on a special community screening of Spec Labs’ award-winning film to celebrate the work of LGBTQ+ and Neurodiverse filmmakers.


Boys Don’t Wear Dresses is a coming of age fairytale that follows the struggles of an autistic, transgender artist exploring new experiences, independence, and love. The film was written by Aloni Schorin, a Spec Labs’ film student, with the help of director and Spec Labs co-founder, Jason Weissbrod, and is inspired by real events. The stars of the film include fellow Spec Labs students, Brandon Rodriguez, Spencer Harte, and Liv Brazill. They worked alongside veteran actors Tom Kenny, Alexandra Billings, and Carol Kane to bring Aloni’s story to life.



Since its release in 2019, Boys Don’t Wear Dresses has made the festival rounds with incredible success. The film was an official selection for nineteen different film festivals and took home ten awards overall, including Favorite Film at the Film Only Film 2021 festival and Best in Show at Wicked Queer 2022. Despite its numerous festival accolades, Boys Don’t Wear Dresses has yet to be screened at a live event. Due to COVID closures and quarantine, the film’s screenings and festival celebrations have been limited to virtual events–until now!


The April 15th event is finally giving us the chance to experience the joy of Boys Don’t Wear Dresses on the big screen and celebrate its success all together in one room. Head over early at 6 pm to find the best seats for this special viewing and get your picture taken on the red carpet. Join us at 7 pm to watch the film for the first time as it was meant to be enjoyed–in a theater full of people. Make sure to stick around after the show to enjoy an exciting Q&A session with the Boys Don’t Wear Dresses cast and crew. There will also be a bonus screening of Spec Labs’ new romantic short film, HANDS. You won’t want to miss it!


Reserve your spot and celebrate this momentous occasion with the Spec Labs community by sending an email to rsvpBDWD@gmail.com. We can’t wait to see you there!


To learn more about the film visit: https://www.speclabs.org/boysdontweardresses



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