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During the summer of 2020, I made a goal of spending time getting to know my neighbor, Dr. Temple Grandin. After several coffee visits and pulled pork meals, we talked about her plans for the upcoming year. Temple mentioned, “Well, I’m turning 75 next year and I’ve got a new book coming out that I’m excited about. It’s called “Visual Thinking” and I think it’s really going help a lot of people.” I left our time together with a sense that there was something exciting on the horizon for the both of us.
I took a trip with Temple in February 2021, where she was the keynote speaker at an Independent School district. I invited a friend and passionate Colorado State University alum that lived in the area to join me. We sat next to each other and before her presentation, I shared with him an idea of finding a new way to tell Temple’s story, possibly in a documentary format. Our attention turned to her presentation, she showed a side-by-side image of her brain scanned next to another brain scan of someone that was not autistic. The audience hung on every word she spoke about neurodiversity. It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.
At the end of her presentation, like always, Temple took questions and answers from the audience. The lines to ask were long and each question seemed to be filled with years of raw emotions and a sense of hope that Temple’s advice could be the missing puzzle piece. Towards the end, my friend leaned in and whispered, “You’re right. Someone should really make another movie about Temple and CSU should make it happen.” That was the moment my idea began to take shape.
After I got back to Fort Collins, I did two things - connected with my colleague Ashley Wilcox to start to put structure behind my idea and then called my friend and CSU alum, John Barnhardt. We all met at one of our favorite watering holes and it was magical. We talked about our partnership, what kind of dedication it would take to make a documentary of this caliber, and how we really wanted to work together on this project.
What emerged from our time together was the vision that the world needed to see a new side of Temple - the researcher, the teacher, the influencer, the partner - someone who is driven to open doors for others. Within a month, the project was greenlit and a crew of Colorado State University students, all from different majors, along with a handful of outside professionals came together and we have gone 100% into this documentary with our hearts and efforts.
- John Festervand
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