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"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" Features Digital Artists with Autism

July 11, 2014

(July 11, 2014) - Blockbuster prequel “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is in theaters today and it is jam-packed with dazzling special effects. Some of those scenes were done by digital artists on the autism spectrum. 20th Century Fox contracted six distinguished students from Exceptional Minds to work on 43 shots in the film. Exceptional Minds is a non-profit vocational school for young men and women with autism preparing for careers in movie post-production.

This isn’t the first time Exceptional Minds students have worked on big Hollywood films.  In the past three years the school has worked on 5 productions, like Oscar-nominated “American Hustle.”

“Upon meeting the students, and seeing all their inspired work and devotion to their craft, I knew they would be a great fit for (post-production) for 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,'” said Ryan Stafford, the film’s visual effects producer with 20th Century Fox.

Movie industry professionals started Exceptional Minds in September 2011 with the mission of helping young people with autism transition from high school into digital arts careers. A 2012 Family Services Community Grant from Autism Speaks of $25,000 helped the vocational school fulfill their goal of proving to the world - the film industry in particular - that young adults with autism could perform highly skilled visual effects and animal work and earn a living. The grant funded their job development program and has allowed them to launch the careers of the first group of graduates – six of which worked on “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes!”

Famed actor and autism advocate Ed Asner was on hand at the graduation ceremony to hand the students their diplomas. Watch the graduation below.