Directed by Salazar Film (AKA Nathan Drillot and Jeff Petry), the new documentary Wizard Mode relates the story of Robert Gagno, one of the world’s highest ranking pinball players, who also happens to be autistic. As Robert comes of age while rising up the ranks of the international pinball circuit, he strives to gain his independence and transcend the label of autism.
“Our goal from the beginning of Wizard Mode was to create a film that would be a positive portrayal of a person living on the autism spectrum,” the filmmakers said in their directors’ statement. “We found an overall lack of stories that focused on autism and in particular that focused on success stories. Considering there are tens of millions of people who live on the spectrum or are family, friends or loved ones of those who are, it seemed particularly important to focus on Robert’s personal story of autism. What we learned from Robert was more than anything he wanted people to engage with him as a unique individual first. He described how often when meeting a new person he felt as though their preconditioned ideas around autism would affect his ability to make a genuine first impression. ‘I don’t want to just be autism forever’ is a line that Robert has said to us numerous times during the filming of Wizard Mode. Our hope is that by sharing his life with wider audience that Robert’s experiences will help to change preconceived notions that exist around autism.”
Wizard Mode is Vimeo’s first original feature and will be released Oct. 21 on VOD and iTunes, as well as on Vimeo itself.
You can see the film’s trailer below and an exclusive clip, above.