×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

A story she had to tell

Film exec makes directing debut with autism-themed feature

When producer Janet Grillo was in her 20s, she relished working on the “House Party” movies and “Spanking the Monkey” at New Line Cinema in the company’s freewheeling earlier days.

But as New Line turned more corporate, Grillo decided it was time to strike out on her as an independent producer of films such as “Joe the King.”

One story she felt compelled to tell was her own experience as the parent of a son diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. She spent years focusing mostly on raising her son, but gradually returning to filmmaking, exec producing docu “Autism, The Musical” and directing the short “Flying Lessons,” starring Dana Delany.

After “Flying Lessons,” other parents of children on the autism spectrum pleaded with Grillo to make a feature exploring the same ideas. The project turned into “Fly Away,” a narrative feature about single mother of an autistic teenage girl that premiered at SXSW and opens Friday in New York and Los Angeles. Pic stars Beth Broderick and Ashley Rickards.

Grillo is adamant that “Fly Away” is “not an issue movie,” but a story anyone can embrace. “I felt like I was back at New Line, drawing on skills I developed there,” Grillo said of her feature directing debut.

Grillo wanted “Fly Away” to reflect the severity of autism, rather than Hollywood’s typical “Rain Man”-esque view of the disorder, “because that is where the need is.”

Grillo is working with former Fine Line exec Marion Koltai-Levine, who is now a distribution consultant, on the release through New Video. She has partnered with Autism Speaks for free screenings of the film and is hoping to show it to Congress as part of a push to reauthorize the Combating Autism act.

More Film

  • Bob Berney

    Bob Berney to Leave Amazon Studios' Head of Marketing and Distribution Position

    Bob Berney, Amazon Studios’ head of marketing and distribution, is stepping down, Variety has confirmed. Berney was hired by Amazon in 2015 and recently reached the end of his four-year contract. His last day will be Friday. During his time at amazon, the film veteran oversaw a number of successful films including “Manchester by the [...]

  • NEW YORK, NY – JUNE, 24:

    LGBTQ Stars Honored at Variety’s Power of Pride Celebration

    New York City felt the full power of pride on Monday, as Variety celebrated its inaugural issue devoted to the annual recognition of LGBTQ people worldwide. At an intimate gathering at lower east side Manhattan hotel The Orchid, rooftop bar Mr. Purple hosted Variety’s cover stars and luminaries for cocktails and the unveiling of the [...]

  • Joel Silver Exits Silver Pictures

    Joel Silver Exits Silver Pictures

    Top Hollywood producer Joel Silver has exited his production company Silver Pictures, Variety has confirmed. “Joel Silver recently indicated that he intends to leave Silver Pictures and go out on his own,” Hal Sadoff, a former ICM Partners agent who joined Silver Pictures several years ago as CEO, said in a statement. “We are working [...]

  • Billy Eichner Power of Pride Variety

    Billy Eichner on Taylor Swift's 'Calm Down' Backlash

    When Taylor Swift released her “You Need to Calm Down” music video, it seemed like every member of the LGBTQ in Hollywood was included — except for Billy Eichner. “I’m still not gay enough for Taylor Swift — or too gay — I don’t know what it is,” Eichner joked at Variety’s Power of Pride [...]

  • Ewen Bremner as Alan McGee in

    Danny Boyle-Produced ‘Creation Stories’ Adds Jason Isaacs, Steven Berkoff

    Jason Isaacs, Steven Berkoff and a host of other new names have signed on for “Creation Stories,” the film being exec-produced by Danny Boyle about Creation Records co-founder Alan McGee. The producers also unveiled the first shots of Ewen Bremner (“Trainspotting”) as the music mogul. Production is underway on the Irvine Welsh-penned project, with “Lock, [...]

  • 'Annabelle Comes Home' Review: This Grab

    Film Review: 'Annabelle Comes Home'

    In a country that should probably think about renaming itself the American Entertainment State, fan culture now produces an obsessive level of pop scholasticism, one that can parse the rules and details of movies and TV shows as if they were fine points of law. In a review of a horror movie, I once called [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content