Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FROM THE PAGE TO THE SCREEN; Inspired by a Special Camp, a 12-Year-Old Autistic Boy from St. Augustine Is Now Pursuing a Dream of Making Films

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FROM THE PAGE TO THE SCREEN; Inspired by a Special Camp, a 12-Year-Old Autistic Boy from St. Augustine Is Now Pursuing a Dream of Making Films

Article excerpt

Byline: LAURA BROCCO

When Keaton Bicknell was 2, he was diagnosed with severe autism, and doctors told his mother he would never be able to speak.

Now 12, Keaton has written a screenplay and helped in the production of a short film based on the first book in the educational "The Adventures of Pelican Pete" children's series by Frances and Hugh Keiser of St. Augustine.

As the cameras started rolling on Jan. 11 at the Keisers' home, Keaton was on the set with professional filmmakers and a crew who volunteered their time and equipment.

According to Frances Keiser who writes the Pelican Pete books (which her husband illustrates), Keaton had a vision for this movie, and he wasn't shy about telling people where to stand and what to say during filming.

In addition to the scenes shot at the Keisers' St. Augustine Beach home, there was filming done outdoors along the beach and AIA as well.

The 20- to 30-minute short is to also include animation. Former Disney animator Dominic Carola of Orlando has expressed interest in overseeing the animation aspects of the project, according to Frances Keiser.

As for finding actors, the Limelight Theatre donated its space for a casting call about three weeks before filming began. Some faces familiar to Keaton may be turning up in the movie as well. His own grandmother plays a grandmother, and Hugh Keiser has the role of the grandfather.

Keaton was in charge of watching the monitors as his father, Stuart Bicknell, filmed. According to his father, Keaton would help line up shots and give his input on whether the shot was good enough to keep.

After a full 12-hour day of filming, Keaton told the cast and crew members, "That's a wrap!"

Keaton has been intrigued with movies and animation for several years, and his interest solidified last summer after attending a special camp that allowed him to focus on the craft of filmmaking. Even so, his mother, Pam Bicknell, didn't take him seriously when Keaton told her he wanted to turn his favorite childhood book into a movie.

"Keaton told me he was going to e-mail the author of the book and write a screenplay, and I was like 'Oh, OK, whatever, Keaton,' " Pam Bicknell said. …

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