The Film Innocence
A man falls to his death in a care home. Two brothers are possible suspects. One of them lives at the home. The other brother works at the home. Who do you think is the killer?
Ben Reid is the director and writer of the movie Innocence. He did an audio interview with Easy to Read.
Innocence is a crime thriller. The main character has Down syndrome. It’s rare to see people with Down syndrome in films. Why did you decide to write Innocence?
Ben Reid: I wrote Innocence because I wanted to show what actors with Down syndrome are capable of. I wanted to show how they can act when they’re given real adult roles. My brother has Down syndrome and he inspired me to make this film.
People living with Down syndrome have wants, needs, desires like everyone else does. They can do good and bad things and everything in between.
I hope the film makes other directors and movie people see just how much talent actors with Down syndrome have. Our movies and society will be richer if these actors are given roles which they are currently not getting.
What particular qualities were you looking for when casting the actors with Down syndrome?
For Dylan’s role, I was looking for someone who was strong, but also warm and vulnerable. In Tommy Jessop, I found an actor who could portray both these sides of the character.
For Sarah’s character, I was looking for someone who may appear vulnerable, but was actually tough. I found her in the actor Bethany Asher.
Ken Ross and Tibo Travers are both producers of Innocence. How did they contribute to the film?
I have been lucky to work with Tibo Travers on many projects. He brings a lot of passion, energy, and talent. He knows how to keep everyone excited and positive on the set.
Ken Ross’ son has Down syndrome. He promotes more inclusion in the arts and in every walk of life. He funded the film. He’s the one who made it possible for us to share this story with everyone.
Were there any surprises during the making of the film?
Yes, the actors with Down syndrome gave me different readings of the lines. And that gave us more options during the edit.
How would you advise your colleagues in the movie industry who want to follow your example?
My advice is not focus on the disability, but to focus on the person. People with Down syndrome are like anyone else. Don’t pigeon-hole them. Their stories are wide-ranging. They can fit in any genre. An actor with Down syndrome can take on any role, whether or not the character is a person with a disability.
Did you make Innocence to raise awareness for equal and true representation of people with Down syndrome in films?
Yes, but firstly, it is a work of entertainment to grip and excite the viewer. It also forces the viewer to think about perceptions they have about people with Down syndrome. They may think that people living with Down syndrome may not be able to carry out certain actions. They may think that they do not have a mind of their own. The movie challenges such ideas. I hope it also helps filmmakers be bolder in their story-telling.
Do you want to continue making movies like Innocence?
Yes. Tibo Travers and I are working on making a feature film along the lines of Innocence. We are currently looking for funding for this project. We’re filming on location in Ecuador in South America and in London. It will be a colorful and grand movie.
Watch the Film Innocence
Innocence has 55'000 views on YouTube.
*Quotes are edited to Plain English.*