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FilmDis Study: Disability Rep on TV 2019-2020

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Hello and welcome! We are Ashtyn & Dominick. We are LGBTQIA and Disabled filmmakers, writers, collaborators, activists, and knowledge seekers. Dominick has a BFA in Film and Ashtyn went to college for screenwriting. Together, we have consulted on a variety of projects involving film, television, video games, and various other forms of media including working on projects for studios like Lionsgate and Netflix. Our work delves into disability representation, as we discuss how representation can affect actual disabled lives.

Last year we started our first annual FilmDis research study into Disability Representation on Television. We formed FilmDis to be a media monitoring organization, and to do that it was important to know where disability representation was lacking and what is available. After watching 180 shows, using our own money and resources, we found that a lot of what we assumed about disability representation was correct, but there were definitely also some big surprises.

The majority of disability representation is by cisgender white men. Disabled BIPOC, LGBTQIA, and women face various barriers to inclusion depending on the specific disability community. We realize that Hollywood is not interacting as well as it could with the disability community, and we want to help studios develop better, multifaceted disabled characters that don’t cause harm to the disabled community the way many characters currently do.

Last year, over 500 shows aired. We were only able to cover 180 because we financed everything out of our own pockets. This year, there are over 500 shows. In order to get a better idea of representation, we need to be able to look at every television show and that means a few things.

First, there are so many new streaming services that we need help funding access to all of them. It gets quite expensive when you’re watching all the new services coming out and it can really add up. Second, we could really use additional help. We are only two people and 500+ shows are a lot of shows. We would like to hire on at least one extra person. We did have one other person, MaeLee Johnson, of Chronic Loaf, watching a couple shows this last study, but as multiply marginalized disabled people, it can be hard when there is no pay involved.

As, such, we are reaching out to all of you. We hope that this next study will lead to many additional studies into film, television, video games, and even theatre.

The funds that we will use will go to help us work for the next year, to complete the 2019-2020 FilmDis Study on Representation of Disability on Television.

Our goal is what it is because it's funding for a full year of work and it will help cover our living expenses, including Dominick's physical expenses as a disabled person.

For example, we just moved into a new home and some of these funds will help to pay for his ramp and other home accommodations. The money will go also go to medical equipment insurance is refusing to pay for. Additional funds will go to help pay for additional people to watch shows, and will allow us more time to watch the shows – it's going to take thousands of hours to watch over 500 shows – nearly a year's worth of time.

In the meantime, please check out our extensive research study here:

Thank you in advance for any support you can give!


Dominick Ławniczak Evans
Village of Clarkston, MI

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