Jesse

After their parents are killed in a car accident, 22 year old Kelly Turner finds herself in the overwhelming position of being the sole caregiver for her older brother Jesse who has autism.

Creative team

Writer/director: Adam Goldhammer
Producer: Evan Landry

Filmmaker’s statement

Jesse is a film based on my relationship with my sister, Ilana, who has autism: those beautiful moments when I really feel connected to her and the times when she loses control and I feel helpless.

My goal was to show a depiction of autism both honest to my experiences with Ilana and unlike those I had seen in prior films, so that when an audience member of my film encounters an individual with autism or their caregiver in a difficult situation, they can understand and empathize.

It is important to note that this film is not meant to be typical of all individuals with autism. Since autism is a spectrum, it includes high functioning individuals who can participate very capably at work and have satisfying relationships.

Portraying a character with autism authentically was perhaps the most important component of the film.

Jake Epstein and I spent three months prior to the shoot working on his character. We spent time with my sister and her friends, observing behavioural traits specific to them as well as intonations and voice cadences of their speech.

No work was done prior to the shoot on the actual scenes in the film, as I wanted to keep the actors genuine. Instead, Jake and Hannah Anderson (who also spent time with my sister and myself, observing our relationship together) improvised the day-to-day flow of their life, in order to build a relationship and history with one another.

During the shoot, Jake would remain in character as Jesse for large portions of the day. It was his and Hannah’s dedication and openness on set and in rehearsal that led to the authenticity of their characters.”

About Adam Goldhammer

Adam Goldhammer

Adam Goldhammer has a joint theatre, philosophy and psychology degree from McGill University.

In 2010, Adam wrote, directed and acted in Little Cat Version of Me which received rave reviews across the internet and was a semi-finalist in Los Angeles’ NexTV Webseries Competition.

In 2011, Adam wrote, directed and produced his first short, 1-800-Choices, which premiered at the New Filmmakers, New York festival. Adam followed Choices with Jesse, which was funded by bravoFACT and stars Jake Epstein (Degrassi)Jesse is currently touring the festival circuit and has played at Cinefest Sudbury and the Edmonton International Film Festival.

Adam has studied acting for film in Toronto’s Professional Actor’s Lab and Carter Thor Studios East. He received critical acclaim for his role as Bastian Farber in the Fringe hit Balls! while touring the Canadian Fringe circuit. Adam has also acted in numerous commercials, short films and plays.

Adam currently works as a music video director for The Field. His music video credits include Diamonde for Saturns, All I Want for Alex Zaichkowski of YTV!’s The Next Star, and Alcohol Abuse for Marshall Dane.

8 comments

  1. Candis Jones, Fine films, Gravenhurst

    Hi Adam,
    Would it be possible to borrow a copy of your short film, JESSE, to screen for our local Film Circuit group in Gravenhurst , ON ?
    Candis Jones,

    • Laura Friesen
      Laura Friesen

      Hi Candis,

      I’d recommend contacting Adam via the contact information on his website: http://www.adamgoldhammer.com/.

      Hope this helps!

  2. Eric Thom

    Hi, Adam. I might have been more blown away than you were by the fact that the judges and MC of the CBC Short Film show tipped their collective hats towards the fact that “Jesse” was the hands-down winner. I agreed. So what the hell happened? Was this the Great Unwashed voting for the quick-joke option that won? Your film was incredible – it was so absorbing and the acting (and direction) so absolutely transfixing that I was sure it was a shoe-in. More importantly – I wanted to see ‘the whole movie’ – you know what I mean. Who played the two key roles? I can’t find any reference to the actors who played Kelly and Jesse Turner – because they were amazing. This really should have won and you are way worthy.
    ET

  3. Jeffrey M. Cutler

    Dear Adam, I just saw this short film on CBC and had to find it on the internet. I was incredibly moved in seeing this film, particularly with respect to how hard the sister was trying in order to take care of her brother, and how difficult it was for her. The character of Jesse was extremely realistic. My lovely son Benny sounds, acts, and appears very similarly to the way Jesse was portrayed, although Jesse can function at a somewhat higher level and has a somewhat greater verbal ability. So much of this film rang true, from both trying to treat Jesse as a man and a little boy at the same time, from both trying to live a normal life while coping with an abnormal one, from showing how accepting of Jesse society can be (yet only when he is coping well), and from expressing the difficulty in finding a placement in a group home, while showing how difficult a decision that is. You have laid bare your innermost love and fear in depicting your life and the potential future for yourself and for many other special siblings like you. In doing all this, you have accomplished a great feat, and a good deed. Yours truly, Jeff

    • Thank you so much Jeff. The reason I made this film was with the hope that it would reach people like you. This means so much to me.

      Adam

  4. Dear Anne,

    Thank you so much for your comment. It was for people such as yourself that I made this film. My hope was that although some people may find the film hard to take, that others would be able to relate to it and take solace in seeing a representation of a situation close to their experience.

    Recently, it has sometimes been difficult to have the motivation to keep on making films in an industry and profession that is constantly filled with rejection. It is comments like yours that give me the fire to keep on making films. So thank you so much. And may I say that I am so happy to hear that Danny is now in such a good placement. Many of the parents and family members I spoke to while doing research for the film have shared similar frustrations in finding a good placement (or any placement at all) in Ontario. We need to keep shedding light on the situation and putting pressure on the government to put more funding into programs and placements for adults with autism!

    All the best,

    Adam Goldhammer

  5. Anne Norkum

    I just watched this film and it is amazing. Everyone should see this short film. I have a son who is autistic and I could see our journey in this film about Jesse and his sister. Only someone who has lived this journey can express the feelings of this film so truly and beautifully. People don’t understand the journey that families who have a member with autism go through on a daily basis and the extreme quilt they feel when they are not coping well with the situation. So many of the characteristics depicted are those that I see with my son Danny and have experienced. We love Danny so much but it has been unbelievably hard. It is those few beautiful moments that were shown in this film so clearly that we treasure that have helped us go on.
    Recently Danny became so violent because of his frustration in not being able to communicate and in his needs to do what he wants 24/7 that resulted in calling the police as he was beating me up daily. He was put in the hospital in a lockdown room. We could only see him with security guards with us. Because of our age and the needs of other children we had to seek a home placement for him with an agency specialising in meeting the needs of individuals with extreme needs. He was in lockdown at the hospital for 5 months before a placement came up for him for any space in Ontario. We were so fortunate to get this placement as the waiting lists throughout Ontario are huge.
    His journey at this placement has been hard but the people working with him are amazing. However, it has not been easy for them either and that is with 24 hours individual care.
    Thank you for the making of this film to depict the journey of the film maker. I hope it educates so many people about the extreme needs of these indiviuals and that they are human beings with great needs. They want and need our love in a holistic, simplistic way. We also need support from all and understanding.
    I applaud this film maker and his talent for sharing an incredible real experience of what is happening to families and their precious love ones with exceptionalities nationally.
    Sincerely;
    Anne Norkum

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