John O’Rourke takes his own Autism experience into ‘Little Devil’

Filmmaker John O’Rourke was diagnosed with Autism (ASD) as late as 2014, and yet since the diagnosis he has hit a creative sweet spot.

Now on his second short film since leaving college, the DIT Film and Broadcasting graduate is looking to build on the success of his previous short ‘Battle Scars’. It won ‘best drama’ award at the Royal Television Society Student Television Awards.

He hasn’t let his condition hold him back; in fact, it has brought him forward in some aspects.

“I feel that people on the spectrum are far more creative than the average Joe,” O’Rourke explains.

“It is in their nature. Just look at Einstein or Mozart. Sometimes I think that the sensory issues and social difficulties which are associated with autism are the price to pay for creativity.”

‘Little Devil’ is O’Rourke’s latest foray into film, and autism awareness. The film is about an Autistic teenager named Richie, who travels to Athlone from Dublin to visit his dying grandmother; without his parent’s knowledge.
He is able to bring something to the table most filmmakers can’t; experiencing autism.

“I put of bit of myself into the story but not a lot, so it is semi-autobiographical to an extent. I also put little bits of my own family into the story here and there. It’s impossible not to put a bit of your own life experience into the mix.”

But John recognises there are limits to his own experience can bring; autism isn’t as simple as having it or not.
“The only thing in common with me and the lead character Ritchie is that we are both on the spectrum. I am on the cusp of the spectrum, also referred to as, “high functioning”, or Asperger’s Syndrome, while Ritchie is lower on the spectrum, he is low functioning.”

John, though, has engaged with the Autistic community through groups like Aspire Ireland and along the way, soaking up their experiences.

“I incorporated different traits from different people as inspiration for Ritchie. A million people can be autistic and each of those people will be unique.

“It can be easy to generalise and the uninitiated might have a preconceived idea of what autistic people are like. So, I used my own observations for my story. It’s something I had to tell.

“I guess a part of me had to project what it feels like to be out there in the world. It really does feel like being on another planet surrounded by aliens, and that’s a constant feeling. It doesn’t go ever away.”

You can help make ‘Little Devils’ a reality. It is taking donations on and any contribution is appreciated on the way to it’s €5000 target.


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