Updated: May 2
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