The Golden Boy
Produced by the Academy-award winning Slick Films, 'The Golden Boy' is a short emotional act of familial love and sacrifice inspired by true events. It’s Michael’s last week in nursery and the end-of-school assembly approaches. A non-verbal autistic six-year-old boy must elicit the help of his older sister to prove that his high support needs can’t stop potential.
The Golden Boy
An emotional act of familial love inspired by true events.
The Golden Boy is a story of self-discovery, sacrifice, and having faith despite the hurdles.
We follow a non-verbal six-year-old boy, Michael, as he enters his last week in nursery and is given an opportunity for the upcoming class presentation. However, it’s said that Michael’s anti-social behaviour has been a disturbance to the class and prompted for his isolation. His lack of speech has meant he’s unable to continue learning with his peers. In the wake of this discovery, his family sets out to prove his condition does not hinder his ability to communicate but allows for a much more unique language to emerge.
As the week unfolds, we’re met with a family whose unanswered questions has seen them seek help and guidance in their faith and friends, but each one leaves them more distraught and confused. Throughout the film we see the mounting pressure to navigate a diagnosis stretch an already limited mother to believe she is un-capable of rearing her own child. Her desperation blinds her to the care needed for Michael, whilst the educational future of his elder sibling hangs in the balance.
In a world where autism is seen as an obstacle, we’re immersed into a story that reimagines the senses, the hyper-intensity of detail, and the fluidity of memory, into a powerful cinematic experience which builds a greater understanding of neurodiversity.
The Golden Boy offers a rich and highly relatable portrait of what autism feels and looks like in a first-generation immigrant, working-class family. Michael’s heart-warming journey of self-expression shines a light on the millions of families dealing with the daily pressures of navigating an invisible disability.
DIRECTORS STATEMENT - ELIZABETH PEACE
Growing up in one of the poorest boroughs in London, as the child of immigrants, you quickly learn the circumstances you’re forced to navigate differ from others who happen to be born just a few miles away. I wasn’t conscious of the lack of early-intervention resources, shoe-string council budgets, and youth club closures until my family needed them.
The story begins with a profoundly introspective toddler fascinated with playing the same children’s program on repeat. Through the eyes of any parent, this seems common practice for any developing child but for my brother, it was different. I was curious as to why we treated his behaviour secondary to his being – autism was happening to him, as opposed to being part of him. I spent a great deal of time as his primary care-giver, whilst mum worked nights, and every new day brought with it a whole world unlike any I’d seen before.
Inspired by my family’s experience, I became interested in how others in my community dealt with the realities tending for a neurodiverse child. I understood the pressure of finding a diagnosis, scanning pages and pages of alarming statistics, and not knowing what to do with it.
I hope to capture this sense of desperation, sacrifice, and longing, as well as moments of black joy, love, and intimacy. Michael’s journey is akin to many but his invites you to have faith despite the hurdles.
Michael - Six-year-old Michael is a bright young boy with a neurodiverse outlook of the world. We are committed to casting a neurodiverse child for this role.
Lizzy - 18-year-old Lizzy has just completed her final exams and is still deciding whether to study at university or stay at home. Pre-occupied by her distractions, she realises the neglect suffered by her younger brother and sets out to make it right.
Mum - As the backbone of the family, mum finds the strength to work hard and provide for her children through faith. But struggling to protect her son, she must learn to reach out for much needed support.
What’s important for this film is its visual rendition of living with an invisible disability. From the opening scene, we are compelled to connect with Michael as he plays differently to his peers at school. The camera follows his movements capturing a level of intimacy and communion with the audience that is not afforded to the other children.
Subjectivity and intimacy are central to this story. We see the world through the eyes of the key characters. At times, they’ll speak into the lens, as if talking directly to the audience. Closeups and close contact with the camera will invite the viewer into the world of the characters.
An inherent visual tension between Michael and those who fail to recognise his autism will reveal alienation, neglect, and detachment.
However, his relationship with Lizzy will break this rule.
By breaking the fourth wall, the raw affection and emotional attachment they share together will allow the viewer to fully engage in their experiences.
Every orchestral string, drum, and beat will help propel the story by adding to the internal journeys of characters, reveal their emotions, and give the audience a perspective on living with autism.
A deliberate focus on Michael’s senses in contrast with other characters will be central to this film. An impassioned preacher to characters and the audience could sound like a raging bull and trigger an involuntary protective reflex out of Michael.
A sensitivity to composing a score that reflects the upside-down nature of Michael’s world will be used to express what goes on in his mind. A unique blend of sounds that express his detachment, softness, and dream-like state.
In his lack of dialogue, the audience will experience moments of silence to convey his felt isolation and longing to communicate.
Michael is more than what meets the eye.
We follow his heart-warming journey of self-discovery guided by the kindness, support and love of the family that help raise him.
FAMILY FAITH LOVE HOPE
This a personal story and attention to this detail is important. Every key character will have their humanity brought to the fore and leave a lasting impression on the audience.
Unlike the bleak realism most dramas take, this film explores the dark circumstances and harsh truths using colours and light as tools for transcendence to reframe and illuminate. The cold, unforgiving nature of working-class London will contrast the warm, rich tones of an immigrant home, full of poetic history. The viewer will feel transported into Michael’s world by amplifying his perspective of emotions with bold, ambient lighting. In lieu of verbal interaction, we immerse ourselves into the complexity of autism with moments of slowed motion and saturated colours.
Our full production costs amount to £21,000 but we're asking for £16,000 to complete on-set production.
Casting & Cast Fees, Crew, Camera & Lighting Kit Hire, Locations, COVID-19 safety equipment, Catering, & insurance
ELIZABETH PEACE - WRITER, DIRECTOR
Elizabeth is an actor, writer, and theatre-producer based in London. Having graduated from Manchester University with a BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, and obtained an Acting Diploma from the Oxford School of Drama, she is currently working as a freelancer whilst being a full-time carer to her younger brother. She also freelances as a theatre producer as part of Re:Con with Contact, Manchester. This will be her debut as a director.
The motivation behind her work is an enduring interest in people; in the human spirit, its emotional resonance, and the way over time it manifests in our relationship with others. Often referencing experiences as a 1st generation immigrant, she also touches on the African diaspora, racial environmental justice, inter-generational trauma, Black British history, and the LGBTQ+ community.
EARLEATHA OPPON - PRODUCER
Earleatha is a producer based in London, with a background in short films & production. Her previous shorts have played at BFI London Film Festival, London Short Film Festival, and other festivals. She is currently working on her first feature, as Associate Producer on a BFI, BBC, Searchlight collaboration
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS AT SLICK FILMS
Chris Overton An Academy Award winning director, producer and a member of the Academy Of Motion Picture best known for his film, The Silent Child for which he received critical acclaim.
Rachel Shenton A British actress, screenwriter, and activist. In 2018, Shenton won the Academy Award for Best Live Action short film for The Silent Child that she both wrote, produced, and starred in.
Rebecca Harris An acclaimed award-winning British producer known for her work in The Silent Child, and A Glimpse.
DAN EMMERSON - EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
BAFTA-nominated British producer of the acclaimed Calm with Horses, and Robot & Scarecrow.
The Golden Boy may be a personal story, but its universality lies in its social impact. Presented through the lens of a nonspeaking autistic child, this film already lends itself to being a socially impactful conversation starter for all audiences. This short film is mainly targeted for educational purposes and use by speech therapists, autism specialists, teachers, carers, and the autism community as a whole.
For many 1st generation immigrant families, this story is archetypal and just a small part of a larger, more difficult societal problem. Often alone in their pursuit to a diagnosis, these families fall through the cracks and are unable to trust in the system for support. The Golden Boy can be instrumental for outreach programs, charities, and grassroot community groups to engage in a greater conversation about autism and bring non-attenders and those reluctant into the fold of discussion.
The team behind the project are committed to increasing the diversity of the film industry and believe this film spotlights a community that is currently under-represented. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex condition that affects how people communicate and interact with the world, and we are keen to hire actors who will give a non-stereotypical portrayal of these characters. The majority of our characters are from under-represented groups be it the visibility and representation of ethnicity, lower socioeconomic backgrounds or invisible disabilities. With our casting choices we really want to address under-representation and challenge tropes and stereotypes, we look forward to casting a neurodiverse young Black British boy as our lead character.
THE MISSION BEYOND...
Our ultimate hope is that ‘The Golden Boy’ acts as a beacon for parents and guardians not to lose faith in the abilities of those under their care but to champion them as they are.
The motivation behind the making of this film is built upon months of liaison between charities, parent support groups, academics, and teachers, who all share in our goal to raise the awareness of autism. Misinformation and inaccuracy are often the case when it comes to showcasing autism in film/tv. This is why prior to pre-production, we’ve kept an open dialogue with the autism community, particularly those from ethnic minority groups, to make sure the film reflects their experience. We also know there is a huge demand for this film from the countless conversations we’ve had about the lack of understanding behind the developmental disability.
It is important that we spotlight a community that seldom see themselves represented on screen and take the opportunity to cinematically portray a non-stereotypical lead character. We’re also keen to make our film as accessible as possible for autism-friendly cinema goers. This film could be a great opportunity to highlight where support is needed and reflect on improving outreach.
It is essential that we champion young children with invisible disabilities and give them a chance to tell their own story. The voice of neurodivergent people might not always be articulated in spoken language, and it is our hope that The Golden Boy embraces this.