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  • Mariana watches the waves crash on the beach. She looks for her son on the boardwalk, passing his favorite bench, now mobbed with seagulls.

    She approaches an older man scanning the shore with a metal detector.

    Excuse me. Have you seen a young boy in a purple sweatshirt?

    No, ma’am.

    Okay, thank you.

    Mariana looks out at the ocean.

    She watches a lone surfer riding small waves, his wet hair throwing off droplets of water as he tosses his head. He looks like a sea god.

    She shivers in the cool air and walks back towards the boardwalk and away from the beach. School is out and kids play basketball, handball, and practice tricks in the skate park. She walks down quiet residential streets. There are houses adorned with cotton spider webs and smiling paper skeletons. Plastic pumpkins on stoops. Plastic gravestones in front yards.

    She stops by the elevated train, closing her eyes as she listens to it pass overhead. The rumbling and screeching is deafening, drowning everything else out.

    A plane flies low overhead.


    Ricky sits in an empty car. His arms are wrapped around his back pack. The train is moving on an elevated track, the ocean is visible outside. The train pulls into a station and we hear the doors opening.

    The station sign is clearly visible. It’s Ricky’s stop: Beach 90th St. There’s a panting and a jingling sound.

    Ricky watches as a dog runs around in the empty car. The doors close, Ricky isn’t registering how close he is to home.

    In November 2009, I read an article about a 13 year-old boy with Autism who ran away from home, riding the NYC subway for 11 days. The story haunted me and a year later I reached out to meet the family in hopes of learning more about their experience. I had questions about how a child in need of help goes unnoticed in the most public of places, and what happens to an illegal immigrant family whose son goes missing in their adopted country. With the cooperation of the family, I spent the next two years developing the screenplay, Stand Clear of the Closing Doors.

    Stand Clear of the Closing Doors is the story of Ricky, a Mexican- American boy with Autism, and his mother, a Mexican immigrant who works long days cleaning houses to support her family. Ricky is deeply imaginative and loves to draw, funneling his unique inner world into fantastical drawings.

    What compels me to re-tell this story in a narrative context is the potential for a natural synthesis of allegory and realism. Ricky, an 8th-grader studying mythology, is suddenly on an odyssey of his own.

    Watch a video about this project and help make this film come to life by visiting my Kickstarter page and donating or sharing — any amount helps and I have to meet my goal by this Friday.
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