A short romantic comedy is playfully addressing the intersection between being on the autism spectrum and the dating world.
Written and directed by Rachel Israel, “Keep the Change” is a 15-minute romantic comedy that tells the story of David (Brandon Polansky), a 30-year-old who works hard to hide his high-functioning autism from the world. At the beginning of the film, David begrudgingly agrees to attend a support group for adults with autism. There, he meets Sarah (Samantha Elisofon), a woman who has autism and a language processing disability. David and Sarah are asked to find a birthday present for another member of their group. Throughout their day together, David questions Sarah’s need for structure and routine, and Sarah questions David’s need to conceal who he is from the world. By the end of the day, the two fall in love.
Israel, who wrote and directed the film as part of her Master’s thesis at Columbia University, wrote the script for first-time actors who all have autism. She told KQED Public Radio’s Film School blog that she wanted to create a well-rounded portrayal of people who have the disorder.
“It was important to me that our film not sanitize these characters just because they have disabilities,” Israel told KQED. “I find such portrayals offensive to people with disabilities. They are not saints just because of a disability. They are flawed and human.”
As of July 2015, the short film is in production to become a full-length feature film. The new version of the story will go further in depth with characters who were introduced in the short film but not fully developed, according to the film’s website.
Watch the entire 15-minute short film below. (Note — includes semi-inappropriate language that may not be suitable for some audiences).