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Powerful Short ‘In a Beat’ Is a Heartfelt Exploration of Raising a Black Autistic Child

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Great Guns director Natasha Mynheir tells the story of a mother balancing her tap dancing aspirations with raising her autistic son
Powerful Short ‘In a Beat’ Is a Heartfelt Exploration of Raising a Black Autistic Child
As autism continues to gain representation in film and television, there remains a gap in the representation of the Black autistic community. To help encourage more conversations on the topic – as well as addressing the false stereotypes that can accompany depictions of autism – director Natasha Mynhier (recently signed to Great Guns for global representation) and long-time collaborator and DOP Jeff Hammerton have debuted ‘In a Beat’, a powerful short film inspired by real events. 

Starring Emmy-nominated actress and dancer Chloe Arnold, the 30-minute film follows Angela, a mother who struggles to balance her aspirations as a tap dancer alongside raising her autistic son, Darrel. One night, Darrel convinces his mother to let him stay home alone so she can pursue a once in a lifetime opportunity. When unexpected circumstances arise, however, he must find a unique way to cope with his meltdown alone. 

The film was inspired by Natasha Mynheir’s own cousin and the story of the first time he self-soothed during a meltdown. Inspired by his resilience and frustrated that he had so few examples of black autistic stories, Natasha also found that the autism community frequently faced the false stereotype that ‘autistic people lack empathy’. Natasha thus created ‘In a Beat’ as a way to share his story, proving such stereotypes are fundamentally untrue whilst inspiring others.


Inspired by this personal story, Natasha knew the film wouldn’t represent the ‘entire autism experience’, instead wanting the emotional impact to come from one unique story. To achieve this, the filmmakers spoke to Natasha’s cousin and had his mother act as a consultant on set. She helped to call out details in Cameron Elie’s performance as Darrel and helped Chloe Arnold – who had previously taught dance to many children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder – further understand the perspective of parenting a child in 2013 when the film was set. This was a time when many neurotypical parents were struggling to find the right messaging to support their loved ones. 

The film also features performances from legendary tap dancer Arthur Duncan and internet sensations The Syncopated Ladies. Although tap wasn’t part of Natasha’s cousin’s story, music therapy was. Growing up with music as a major part of his life, the first time he self-soothed saw him spinning and hitting pots in a repeated pattern – an idea that inspired the repeated musical pattern of the film’s final scene. Having danced for 20 years, tap was also a medium that Natasha felt comfortable working in and directing from, holding a special place in her artistic voice. 

Director Natasha Mynheir comments: “Tap felt like the perfect way to combine the truth in Darrel’s story and music therapy with the challenge of a very loud world. His love and empathy of his mother drives him to harness her passion as his own, exploring music in a way that suits him. A protagonist with a particular vulnerability is put in a circumstance that challenges it to the extreme until they can turn it into strength. This is the idea behind tap. I thought, if this character has Sensory Processing Disorder, what would be the most challenging job for his mother? Something loud!”

‘In a Beat’ premiered on Friday 10th July on YouTube. There will also be ‘Full Volume’ and ‘Sensory Friendly’ versions of the film available. 

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Production

Writer and Director: Natasha Mynhier

Director of Photography: Jeff Hammerton

Producer: Natasha Mynhier, Hannah Kallaoun, Mark Mynhier, Chloe Arnold

Executive Producers: Mark Mynhier, Lynda Chin, Tai Lam, Christopher Albani, Jeff Hammerton

Co-Producers: Theresa Roberts, Rodney Lui, Laura Gregory, Thom Fennessey

Associate Producers: Sumanth Venugopal, Parris and Rashida Mann, Bo Shim, Carolyn Gitlin, Chris Biggs, Natasha Stassen, Avianna Mynhier

Assistant Director: Jessica Peterson

1st AC (Apartment): George Ellett

1st AC (Studio): Kevin Shiramizu

2nd AC: Phil Hammerton

Production Sound Mixer: Dylan Lamm

Art Director: Bella Wattles

Costume Stylist: Nandi Mudiwa

Hair and Makeup: Diahann McCrary

Choreography: Chloe Arnold

Script Supervisor: Eszter Zakarias

BTS Photography: Ben Hammerton

Studio Teachers: Lena Liu, Alberto Barrientos

Editors: Natasha Mynhier and Jeff Hammerton

Sound Design and Mix: Jeremy Nichols

MUSIC

Theme Music: “Moon Glow Theme”

Music: Channing Cook Holmes

Co-Producer: David “GX” Kirkwood

Lyrics: Ashley Rachelle

Performance: C. Holmes Allstar Squad

CAST

Angela Smith: Chloe Arnold

Darrel Smith: Cameron Elie

Arthur Duncan: Arthur Duncan

Sheryl Jackson: Karen McDonald

Young Mom: Yanira Pache

Daughter: Aaliyah-Monet States

Young Tap Dancers: Natalie Roberts, Ameren Roberts, Dora Medina, Shelby Edwards, Malia Palmer, Aaliyah Ramos, Liliana Silva, Icesiis Magana, Sydney Williams, Freddie Tisdale, Teddie Tisdale

Lobby Scene: Jamie White, Paris Shockley, Tayi Sanusi, Garret Roberts, Lydia Silva, Cassandra Lawler, Sandi Ramos

Ocean Documentary Voice Over: Harvey Sutton

Moon Glow Video Musicians: Apollo Jane (Vocals), Arean Alston (Piano), Alex Kyhn (Bass Guitar), Bo Lamar (Drums)

Audition Scene Musician: Stephen Thurston (Piano)

Arthur’s Assistant: Maud Arnold

Audition Scene Judges: Parris and Rashida Mann

Audition Tap Dancers: The Syncopated Ladies – Gisele Silva, Riley Roberts, Crystal Burton, Simone Posey, Alyssa Burton, Cristina McKeever, Camryn Eakes, Paris Shockley, Porsche Norman, Alexa Tolitano, Bryn Christoffersen, Naomi Hill, Michelle Peters, Bianca Maza-Robles, Arielle Wilson

Support From: Holbox Los Angeles, Clif Bar, Bloch Dancewear, Aspire Coffeeworks

With thanks to: The Roberts Family, Downtown Dance and Movement, Lime Studios, Great Guns, Laurelyn Mynhier, Venus Dumaplin, Dinkar Saran, Dan Etheridge, Cherish McDowell, Kaleena Rallis, Leigh Jonte, Becca Nelson, David Boyer, Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center, Mike Wollager, Timothy Burnham, Jack Taylor, Tyler Lahanas, Tayi Sanusi and Claire Glassford

Genres: Choreography, People, Storytelling, Dialogue, Drama

Categories: Short films, Short Films and Music Videos

Great Guns, Mon, 13 Jul 2020 10:11:49 GMT