Alex Amelines is an award-winning animator from Colombia, who has been based in the UK since 2000. He has worked with many high-profile clients on a diverse range of projects, from TV and movies to exhibitions and installations. Alex’s experience covers production, character design, concept development and direction, as well as animation. He is passionate about education and using animation as a medium for bringing knowledge and understanding to people, especially younger generations. Alex’s website, Amazing Things Happen, brings together the films he has created so far to help people better understand neurodivergence, e.g. autism and dyslexia, and bring about greater acceptance.
Here, Alex talks about the Amazing Things Happen project…
Back in 2017, I released an animation that aimed to explain autism to non-autistic children. It was a personal project which took me two years to complete, working in my spare time or whenever my workload allowed.
It all started at my kids’ school. They were having a school-wide assembly, which opened my eyes to the importance of demystifying something like autism. In my eyes, if everyone has a greater understanding of autism, the barriers for autistic children are knocked down before they’re even up. I approached the school’s SENCO and suggested we work together to develop a short animation about it. It proved much harder than we thought, but we kept at it. I even reached out to Professor Tony Attwood, who generously gave us feedback on the project. However, we had no idea of the kind of success it would turn into.
When I launched the video in 2017, I was taken aback by the response. In just one week the video gained over a million views. Today, it’s been seen over 70 million times, won awards and been translated into over 33 languages. Since then, I’ve worked on projects with the British Dyslexia Association, Dr. Nancy Doyle (from BBC’s Employable Me), Deborah Brownson MBE (My Autism Plan), BBC Persia and Safe Places National Network.
I put all of the videos on the Amazing Things Happen website, which you can view here.
Before making these videos, I felt something was missing. There’s so much more to autism than what I managed to condense in five minutes. I knew more had to be said, but I also knew I wasn’t the best person to say it. The aim of my original animation was to help children to see things from the perspective of children in the spectrum, so I thought it should be them doing the talking, not me. I decided to try a follow-up series bringing to life stories from autistic children. The children would do the talking and I would provide a platform for their voices to be heard. With the help of ADDVance in Hertfordshire, we put out an open call for submissions for parents of autistic children to record themselves interviewing their children.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t raise the money for a full series. But I received 14 recordings full of valuable insight. I thought it’d be a shame for all that effort to go to waste! So, I was lucky to find a producer and podcast editor who were both passionate about the topic. They spent several months transcribing and editing the interviews into a five minute episode, which became the next animated instalment in the series.
I’m currently fundraising to help speed up the animation process and allow me to compensate those who have been so generous with their time and skills. Once finished, the animation will be made available online under a Creative Commons License. The intention is to make this content easily accessible so that it can be shared across the world and hopefully help provide non-autistic people with the opportunity to better understand the autism experience.
Please visit my Go Fund Me page to learn more.