That’s a wrap!

Had such a good week. Since Sunday we’ve pretty much worked on The Life of Reilly short non stop. I feel pretty emotional about it and cannot wait to see the finished result.

Deciding to push ahead with making the film was a no brainer for me. This blog has provided much enlightenment and entertainment over the past 2 years if the feedback I’ve received is correct. We have a lot of eyes on The Life of Reilly and it just seemed such a great opportunity to spread our wings and reach a bigger audience.

I put my hands up now and say I had no idea how much work goes into making a film. After all what more can you need than the actors, a camera and someone in charge. Pffft I’ll tell you what you need. Locations, actors, scripts (John Hickman), cameras, lights, mics, sound equipment, smoke machines, props, cars, food, runners, directors, makeup, hair, green room, paperwork, drone, chaperone …. need I go on ? These people worked HARD. Local heartthrob Andy Mills played a blinder as the miserable taxi driver and Scott Ritchie in his dressing gown our nosey neighbour. Just brilliant. The actual neighbours on location too not one complaint about the madness over the last few days and even a borrow of someone’s front door. That’s Annitsford for you, all rooting for Reilly and helping us along the way.

Charlie Price from Manchester plays Reilly. He is the most adorable lad. Professional is an understatement. He knew about autism and was so keen to meet Reilly in real life. The days start early and are long, I found it difficult never mind being the ripe old age of 7. He loves it though. Loves meeting people and acting, he’s awesome just like his Mum Andrea. I believe things happen for a reason more often than not and I’m grateful this lovely family have come into my life. Andrea cried with me at some of the scenes and had really thought about the relationship between myself and Reilly. Charlie told her the first night that he loved her and she got upset that I’d never heard that, almost guilty. I’d love to hear it, I hope I do, maybe I won’t but I know it. It’s in every cuddle and stroke of my face.

Stephen Woods the director and his team Jamie, Chas, Ryan, Charlie, Jake, Cal, Marni, Chase & Sophie from Act2Cam have blown me away. I advised a lot on set and got to see them in action. The work that goes into getting these shots just right is incredible, it’s creative, it’s frustrating, it’s their passion. No second bests.

Now Alison Stanley who you will know from writing the stage play and playing Mam Joanne in The Life of Reilly has knocked it out the park. She has looked as rough as a badger for 3 days in her pjs, messy hair, no shoes or makeup. The polar opposite of how you see her on a normal day with her lovely nails and immaculate hair. Real minger this week. She’s spent hours sitting outside in no shoes or coat shooting scenes. She’s cried, she’s laughed, she became her character Joanne. It was awesome to watch. Alison has felt the frustration of having her own son failed exactly the same as some of the scenes she acted so well. She’s been there. She nailed it.

Crissy Rock what can I say. You amazing woman. You’ve made me laugh and cry. I’ve learned just how much more there is to this incredible lady. Talented with a massive heart can’t wait to meet up again.

It’s important to me that autistic people act and crew on this project and that is something we will be sticking with in the feature. The feature will see Reilly grow into a young man and we’ll see some of the difficulties thrown in his way, the failings and misunderstandings but you’ll also see the love of his family, his achievements, his awesomeness.

All I can do is thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for contributing to this project. We can make changes to attitudes by teaching empathy and understanding. A glimpse at what happens behind closed doors is sometimes all it takes. We’ve opened that door a little to you all.

I’m asked constantly what happens now. The film has to be edited and then we will have a premiere at the Tyneside Cinema with some guest speakers in June. We will enter it to short film festivals and more importantly we will use it to dangle the carrot for funding and hopefully commissioning a feature length. You will not find anyone more driven than Alphabetically Autistic (myself, Alison & Kelly) to make it happen.

I have special thanks to my little pal Lisa Bewick who signed up to let us have her home for 1 day originally and that turned into 4! Not many would have been as cool but thank god you’re Team Reilly and can see the bigger picture. Elaine and Stevie from The Bridge Inn Annitsford opened every morning before the birds were up to ale sure we had a green room and were fed and watered. Above and beyond, amazing food, amazing hospitality that won’t be forgotten xx and last but not least Ken & Pat who have looked after the real Reilly and brother Ellis xx

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and relax ….

Tomorrow is Ramside Hall Eve. I cannot wait!

I have felt more stressed than normal over the last few weeks and there is no better time to get away from it all, even if it is only for one night. This is my christmas present from Shane.  When anyone asks me what I want for birthdays, christmas etc the answer is always the same, let me get away for a night, free from responsibility and some time to breathe. I will also take the opportunity to meet up with the awesome Autistic Advocate for a coffee and discuss moving things forward with all things autistic in the right way.  His blogs blow my mind and give great insight to actually autistic lives.

Managing stress is something that I’ve done since I can remember.  Anxiety shacks up with depression in my mind and doesn’t even pay rent, unwanted squatters who I just cannot evict.  Sometimes they are noisy, other times we get along dandy – at the minute they need an ASBO.  When there is a lot going on they crank up the house parties and stop me from sleeping.  Couple that with the fact that I’m an incredibly busy lady with 3 boys, 4 if you count my husband and its no wonder.  It’s not unusual for me though and i’ll ride the wave like I always do. This too shall pass, might be like a watermelon from a birth canal but it will pass.  I’ve always been very open about the fact I take meds and have done for years.  I really wish there was more discussion around it.  How the hell are people supposed to know that they aren’t alone when we are still speaking in hushed tones about it?

Being Reilly’s Mam brings its challenges but I can tell you something for sure my 11 year old NT child is stressing me out wayyyy more than Reilly at the moment.  When did 11 become the new 15?  I even offered to rap on his youtube channel to cheer him up yesterday and was told to stop trying to be peng.  Because I’m down with the kids I know what that means but I played on it and said pardon i’m nothing like Pingu.  No laughs just a look of utter disgust that reminded me of myself at approximately 13 with my awful perm and vile attitude to match.  He’s his mothers son that’s for sure.

I try and relax as much as I can.  Mindfulness is a huge part of my routine and EVERY night I unwind listening to dulcet tones and try to breathe correctly, most of us don’t.  It works you should try it.  I’ve signed up to yoga classes.  I’ve wanted to do this for years and always been a bit scared of the odd sneaky pump making its way out during a downward facing dog. Fingers crossed I can behave.

Nights away to just be myself are so valuable I cannot put it into words.  I get a bed to myself, MYSELF!  I get to be alone, I can go in the bath with additions of toilet brushes, toilet rolls, dog shampoo, Lightening McQueen, underpants etc. I’ve even treated myself to a bath bomb, this one will not go down the toilet like the others.

I will eat from a china plate, not a plastic Christmas plate and I will eat at a table and not the 10th stair up where I cant be seen shovelling it in like a jazz band drummer in a bid to eat while its hot without it being thrown across the room like a foody discus.

I will swim like an overweight mermaid and sweat in the sauna. I might even read something that’s printed in an actual book!  The luxury of it all!  I don’t want any phone calls unless its life or death.  I don’t know or care where the socks, shinpads, PS4 controller, insert your own here are.

I will try and forget that I have recently acquired some new wall art up my stairs and in my bedroom courtesy of Reilly and a yellow hi-lighter, to be fair I really don’t give a f@ck about this if I’m honest.  Pick your battles.  This is an easy one and will match his earlier works of art dated circa 2015.  It’s just another job to add to the list of never ending jobs that never get finished at home.

So Ill return on Saturday hopefully refreshed and ready to take on the filming of the short for The Life of Reilly on the 11th & 12th. I’ve attended many meetings lately about it and i’m super excited to see it come to life. This is just the beginning for The Life of Reilly. Where it stops nobody knows.

(I should really add that I usually don’t sleep when I’m away, the intention is there but I lie in bed wondering if Reilly is ok, how maybe I shouldn’t have went and what the breakfast will look like).

 

 

 

 

Now where were we? ….

Thought I would update you all on where we are at with The Life of Reilly Pilot etc. I’m so busy at the minute but I’ll try and update as often as possible.

The crowdfunder was a success! Thankyou!! £5000 was the bare minimum we needed to produce the pilot.  Since we raised the money we have put the team in place under the direction of Stephen Woods from Act2Cam, we have sourced locations and last night we auditioned for Reilly.

I had thought about Reilly playing himself but the more I thought about it and the challenges it brings the more we can’t do it. Firstly they are long days with lots of repition, lighting, strangers, new sounds etc it would be way too much for him so we decided to find a Reilly and invited children along to audition last night.  Alison has been very ill so I had to step into her place and do some acting with the kids which was absolutely horrific.  Its a good job I’m creative in other areas!

I talked to the boys and their parents about Reilly.  How he behaves in the morning (that’s when the pilot will take place).  His mannerisms, his sounds, his outbursts, even how he counts his bits of toast for his breakfast and they all listened intently.  They were left to practice with Mam while we took them in child and parent one at a time to play out the scene while being filmed.  They were absolutely awesome.  Some of the children had family members who were autistic, some classmates, some hadn’t met anyone autistic but the Mam’s had been reading the blog and had talked to them about it.  We didn’t have any autistic actors audition, maybe for the same reasons as we have.

I felt a bit emotional watching these kids becoming distressed at the sight of their school shoes, pushing Mam, kicking, screaming.  It’s just part of our morning now and has become the norm but I think some of the Mam’s may have been a little shocked.  Epecially when I’m shouting really stick it to her that’s what Reilly would do.

Kids were great Mam’s were lovely and I’m looking forward to spending more time with whoever gets the part.  we are all meeting tomorrow to go through the tapes and decide.

We have a screen play writer and author involved now who has worked on a BAFTA winning programme and he is going to be working with Alison to get the really Northern, realism  that we desperately want.

Crissy Rock who will play the school escort who is sent to collect Reilly but never met the family before and hasn’t a clue about autism is excited to get cracking.  Crissy is a lovely lady and I know she’s going to do an amazing job.

We’ve been incredibly busy and my eyes have been well and truly opened as to how much work goes in.  I cannot imagine what it will be like working on a full length piece but can’t wait to find out.

Shooting starts on 12th February and we are using my friend Lisa’s house as the location, god bless her is all I can say.  There will be a premiere of the pilot at hopefully the Tyneside Cinema and we hope to make this an event and invite along some awesome speakers from the autistic community more on that to follow.

Busy busy times.

The play is onto its final seats and it will sell out so please if you want to go and see it make sure you go online and book your ticket at Northern Stage.

Just keep Swimming

1 more sleep. 1 more sleep if i’m lucky.

Last night Reilly went to bed and was asleep at 9.  He woke up at 12am like Aurora had just been kissed.  He was up until 6 this morning when he decided to have himself a little snooze thankfully.  Its rare these days thats its as bad as this.

I decided I was going to make sure he was tired tonight so decided I would brave the swimming pool. A quick wafting of his swimming trunks between Reilly and the Mac screen and Reilly was fastening himself into his car seat as quick as a flash.

I NEVER go to the swimming baths:

  • a) I am fat
  • b) I am a shade paler than Winterfell
  • c) I hate getting splashed.
  • d) Reilly having a meltdown and the thought of me legging it after him in a bathing costume turns my stomach (and the poor others who witness it).

Given my nearly 2 stone weight loss though I thought suck it up you are 45 years old and noone gives a flyer what you look like and off I went. Ellis decided he was coming too. Strength in numbers.

I drove off with my brood thinking I was great, one of them activity mams I despise normally, jealousy is a terrible thing. The mere sight of a fun filled family social media snap, usually fake can sometimes send my resting bitch face into a state of unrest.

Ellis splashed me at every given opportunity and I floated around like Red October looking for people I knew to get out before I would make my exit and head to the showers. Surfacing from the warmth of the baby pool on look out like a massive periscope.

I had another reason for going swimming. It was a secret covert mission to wash Reillys hair! I cannot do it at home. I cannot watch my boy ram his face into the tiles and scratch himself when attempting to wash his hair. Can’t do it. Is it the smell, taste, feeling, sensation? We don’t know but what we do know is it is much simpler at the pool. There’s a quick kick off but no meltdown and it passes quickly. Success! Look at me parenting!

All in all it was a huge success sounds ridiculous to some that I am celebrating a trip to the pool but honestly some of our trips out would make your toes curl.

Back home and out on his bike with Tarly for some night swinging at the park.

Surely he’ll sleep? He’s never stopped today. Tomorrow morning will be awful. First day back for Reilly is that bad his dad has taken the day off to help. It’s not that he hates school he just wants to be with me. This past 2 weeks you’ll be lucky if there’s been a day where Reilly hasn’t been attached to my cheek. He loves the holidays, loves staying in his pjs and watching films. He’s rekindled his love for Charlie and Lola which I’m very happy about and we’ve watched hundreds of episodes. Tomorrow is going to be tough for the little man. I expect uniform down the toilet at first opportunity.

Myself and Shane will be going out for lunch as we have spent zero time together over the Christmas holidays and a bit of almost grown up conversation is much needed.

Good Luck to all those with a fight on their hands in the morning. Cheers to the first uninterrupted cuppa x

2018 lets have it!

I’m sat in bed writing this post after what has to have been the most boring New Year I have ever had. We don’t ever get out on NYE which doesn’t bother me one bit but we usually order food in. Watch the equivalent of Sydney Harbour fireworks kicking off from the neighbours out the window and at least acknowledge the year passing.

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NYE fun

This year the only thing I celebrating passing was the bug I had picked up from Reilly.  Bedroom bound for 2 days with frequent trips to the loo (remember I can’t go til Reilly goes first so it gets tricky).  I managed an hour downstairs with a dry bit of toast and League of Gentlemen then back into bed.  Today has been just as fun.  I’ve looked at approximately 150 holidays with Reilly who is now in holiday mode, watched Charlie and Lola ‘we can look after your dog’ 100 times and didn’t get to see 2 minutes of Dunkirk because Reilly has attached himself to me like a lovable barnacle to a rudder. Instead I retreat back upstairs and in the small amounts of time I’m permitted my phone I scroll through peoples look how amazing our NYE is posts and swear under my breath.

Seeing as I don’t like people that much it’s not the end of the world as i’ve made it sound and you’re actually welcome to NYE festivities I find it quite frankly overrated and shite and it has given me some time to reflect on 2017.  Thing that stands out the most is how much I have learned about autism.  Through researching but mostly by listening to autistic people.  Twitter is a fountain of knowledge that we as parents should be tapping into.  I will continue to do this. From the horses mouth cannot be wrong. You will be surprised and hopefully appalled at how huge the struggle is for their voices to be heard.  I want Reilly’s voice to be heard when he is ready and why shouldn’t it be?

2017 has brought lots of stress to our home.  Lack of childminders, money, anxiety, siblings, usual shit.  We continue to wade through it though. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel, might be in the distance but its there.  It also brought us Tarly Dog.  Worlds naughtiest pie stealing Puppy.

2017 brought The Life of Reilly play to the stage which was an incredible experience which will repeat on March 16th at Northern Stage.  Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think Id be minging around backstage at the Northern Stage with the thesps.  Loved it.  Never make an actor though.  I stood on the party scene cakes, had scripts stuck to marshmallows on my converse and marked all the beautifully polished floor.

The play
Scene from the play

That post.  That viral post.  Shane’s rant that went round the world and back again.  A very angry dad venting to his nearest and dearest that I copied to twitter.  Can only take the positives from it. Thousands of messages worldwide of support, I’ve broken my heart at lots of the emails with talk of suicide in children because of exclusion and bullying. Not good enough, not acceptable.  Fact is we all came from the wrinkly old bawbag lottery.  Respect each other and we’ll go a long way.

I’ve been trolled this year for the first time.  Vile cretins, it takes all my being not to respond or to read their comments but I’m trying.

2017 gave us a party! Reillys Party which was incredible.

The film pilot which is nearing its final week for crowdfunding has been a challenge. 5k in around a month is a big ask.  I decided to throw myself at it and see if we could do it.  The pilot will be used to hopefully get a full TV film off the ground.  I’ve seen Alison read through her lines with Crissy Rock for the 10 minute pilot and it is awesome.  With only 5 main characters in the scene and I’m sure most of you can envisage it.  Mam getting Reilly ready for school best she can, you all know how my mornings go! new taxi arrives, escort knocks on the door, mam never seen her before in her life, refuses to send Reilly with strangers, ends up in council offices for a showdown.  I’ve done it. Most of us have.

The actual film will see Reilly grow.  It will dispel some myths about autism.  It’ll look at the family dynamics and Reilly’s perception of it all.  It will see him grow into a young adult.  I don’t want to say too much.  It’s awesome.  Obvs not a real life story of my Reilly because he is 6.  This story is a collective of real life scenarios with guidance from autistic people.  Featuring autistic actors and crew is an absolute given.

If you want to donate before our time runs out you can at Life of Reilly Crowdfunder.  Every penny is appreciated.  Making a difference not just a donation.  People engage through drama we know that from the stage play.  We can hit a  much wider audience if we can take it to TV.  Let’s do it!! Only a week to raise around £700 to hit target.

2018 has potential to be amazing.  Reilly will continue to grow in handsomeness and awesomeness as per usual and hopefully the general publics understanding and acceptance of autism will too.

Big thankyou to everyone who has supported us this far with The Life of Reilly blog and by donating to the crowdfunder .  210k views isn’t bad going for a blog I imagined would get about 20.

One of the many things I adore about Reilly is his outburst of spontaneous laughter.

xx

Reillys Party

Last night I couldn’t sleep.  Terrified that no-one would turn up for Reilly’s party.  When I opened the blinds to see the snow bleaching down outside I felt even worse!

I packed up my little mini with raffle and tombola prizes and set off at 2 miles an hour to pick up the party squad and get set up.

I needn’t have worried. At 1 o clock the doors opened and people flooded in.  The room was packed!  Reilly was brilliant for a good hour after that he clung to me and typed McDonalds into my phone constantly 🙂 we spent a bit of time outside and that’s ok. We also spent a little bit of time in the foyer reading a George Pig book.  When you need 5  minutes you need 5 minutes.

The children partied TOGETHER  it was so lovely to see.  It was amazing to hear some of the parents had used examples from my blog to explain about stimming etc to their children before they came.  This is what it’s all about!! Education and acceptance.

Special mentions today go to those people who gave up their own time to come and entertain the children.  These people are priceless coming along at such a busy time to help the local community.

Rite Rhythm Disco  contacted me and said if we ever needed someone for a disco he would love to help us out. He has an autistic son also and gets it.   He did today and did an amazing job.

Party Animals came along to show and tell the children about animals. Snakes, frogs, guinea pigs, dragons. The kids absolutely loved it!!

 

Martin the Magician was a huge hit! Hilarious and kept the kids entertained perfectly. Thoroughly recommended.

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Sandra McGrath from Cramlington Village Club didn’t hesitate when I asked if they could help us out with the venue.  They also donated prizes for our raffle.

Hannah Wilkinson our beautiful Elsa who I only met a few weeks ago came today after I heard her singing at our annual charity ball.  She did an incredible job and the kids were mesmerised by her

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Maisey Maxwell our little helper who set up her own stall to do glitter tattoos for the children (and adults I noticed).  Awesome!

And not to forget our raffle ticket, tombola selling, room decorating squad!

With tickets purchased online and the party today Reilly’s party raised just short of £500!

BUT …

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Marce Gaygaskel who plays Granny Mary in the play The Life of Reilly superbly wrote a cheque for £1000 today.  She believes in this project as much as we do.  Absolutely blown away by her generosity.  Cannot thank Marce enough.

Our crowdfunding when all paid in will stand at just over 4k.  We can do this!

We have 12 days then we can fund this pilot and start shooting in February. Crowdfunder Life of Reilly

He’s fast asleep now but has kept looking through the photos and videos.  He absolutely loved the DJ equipment and did a bit scratching 🙂

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Give me strength and a cleaner

Same shit different holiday haha

The Life of Reilly

I despair at the state of my house.  It’s bad enough when the kids are at school but this week has brought it to a whole new level.

Toys that are usually restricted-ish to the conservatory have spread like the flu and are literally everywhere.  There is play doh in my knicker drawer and cars covered in toothpaste with toothbrushes down the toilet . Nothing has a battery in and Reilly tails me all day with a screwdriver to replace them with equally dead batteries  that he’s found in a drawer of things we keep and never use or need.  There should be tea towels in that drawer but seriously who has tea towels when you mop up 20 spills and floods a day, yesterday I moved onto using the beach towels from our holidays for a particularly bad 6 pint semi skimmed milk slick.  I even used a sock yesterday for the cracked egg…

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