By Conner Cummings
The theme this issue is about passions that may be considered unique or as quoted “off the beaten path.” This topic had me thinking of people I know that are leading. People that do not follow others’ footsteps but create their own. Design their own Magic! We have four very impressive and unique to their own being – individuals that are on our cover with their stories. You do not want to miss.
We also have Carly Fulgham who is our featured person on “The View from Here.” Her journey I guarantee is worth following. Carly I am proud to say is a friend. I was fortunate enough to speak at last year’s Autism Society of America conference on a panel hosted by Barry Prizant. Everyone on the panel had their own communication styles. Barry did an excellent job accommodating mine. However, Carly sat next to me at ‘my-ask’ so I could have her assistance if needed to read my written notes to any questions that were directed to me. I did not have my own friends growing up but I have so many now I am making up for it. Most do not live close but they are true friends. Don’t miss getting to know the Impressive Carly. And while you are reading Carly’s view find a quick ‘catch-up’ on our previous View from Here person, Jacob Fuentes. He continues his journey and gives you a little sneak peek. Each issue not only will you one by one be introduced to the four fascinating individuals featured in the View from Here but you will get a brief update to continue the journey on the ones you have previously met. I am especially proud of View from Here because it was designed so we can add four new friends to our lives. How special is that. I think we can all use good people-good friends in our lives.
I am happy that I know so many friends that inspire me to be my own person. To be comfortable with My Uniquely Me! This is why I like to attend the Autism Society of America’s conference and the Arc conference because every day I meet people that make me want to be my best.
A very good friend of mine Jonathan Murphy (who is autistic like me) is a Voice Over for books, commercials, movies and even amusement parks. He has a very deep interesting voice for speaking yet when he is a character he can make any person, place or thing come to life. Whatever object, animal or person he voices makes you want to meet them and intrigues and captivates your interest that you cannot stop listening. Jonathan’s love for what he is accomplishing attracted me to consider other ideas and dreams for my photography and tie this camera passion to my love for movies.
Jonathan’s love for what he is accomplishing attracted me to consider other ideas and dreams for my photography and tie this camera passion to my love for movies.
Something new that has happened in my life is I am now a Still Photographer. That is a photographer who takes pictures at a set or location where a movie, documentary or television show is being filmed. I did my very first job for a documentary called ‘Othello-San’. A family friend was the Producer and Creator, Ted Adams. It was something that I have never done before and I always wanted to be a Still Photographer for a movie.
All the actors who starred in the movie were so amazing that even watching from the set I could feel every work and when I watched them I saw the story not a stage set. I learned to use my imagination to create magical picturesque moments at the movies. It was pretty hard sometimes because it was long hours and you have to stop when they do the actual filming as they yell SILENT and then ACTION and then you do not move or make a sound, but I got the hang of it. When the filming was perfected after practice shoots they yell CUT THAT’s A WRAP. Did you know they even used my pictures on the poster they are using to advertise for the movie?
I felt the excitement for movie making magic by telling a story with my camera. I walked around the set and even up the stairs taking different angles of different scenes. It was a lot like Hollywood. It was my first time working with real actors, directors and movie magic talented people. I loved how they invited me for lunch with them and to meet them during breaks. And they gave me so much advice and RESPECT. At the very end of the shooting the director announced to the cast about me that my pictures were absolutely amazing. The Virginia Film Office said they were some of the best Still pictures they had ever seen.
I felt the excitement for movie making magic by telling a story with my camera. I walked around the set and even up the stairs taking different angles of different scenes. It was a lot like Hollywood.
Since this date I have been asked to be the Still Photographer for two upcoming documentaries and I did a second one that was filmed with cars outside which was very different again. Each movie is different and exciting. My insides awaken as I feel the movie magic all around me.
I know other people who are also venturing into movies, acting and music. My friend Elaine Hall (link) has a school that is in California and I would love to be involved if they were closer. Our friends who were our last cover Ed, Matt and Navah Asner are taking acting and incorporating in a new facility they just opened that was mentioned in our previous issue.
Since we last spoke, me and my mom have been very active as advocates. We hosted disability forums for candidates running for Congress in the Northern Virginia area and attended and spoke at numerous events. I like to speak words I have written. Words do not freely come to my mouth so it is difficult for me to carry on a conversation but the words flow to my fingers from my mind in my own time and then I can read my words to large and small crowds and I enjoy doing this.
We also went to Disneyworld for my birthday. Something very magical happened on this trip. I was given a Key to the Kingdom and a limited edition Golden Coin with a picture of Walt Disney himself on it. The key does not really open the park but it did open my heart while I enjoyed all the magic of Disney.
Something very magical happened on this trip. I was given a Key to the Kingdom…
Something new I did was join Theatre on Ice with the Special Olympic Team. We made the finals and went to outside Chicago to compete. It was my first time to be at a real national competition. This year’s theme was a surprise birthday party for Minnie Mouse and I got to play Mickey. Our team was filled with people of all ages and all shining with their own abilities. There were people from all over the United States and although we came as strangers we left as friends.
There were people from all over the United States and although we came as strangers we left as friends.
Oh, and I can’t wait to tell you what an amazing visit me and my mom had to the set of the new Wonder Woman movie. We can share our adventures after the movie comes out which is not until November of 2019. I can tell you I wrote a letter from my heart to Wonder Woman. I told her many things about what I know about her and what I have done. I told her I believe she can save the world along with my other Wonder Woman…my Mom and all of you including me can make a difference and save the world one piece one step at a time. I have not heard back from her yet but I do Believe I will!
This is just remarkable to me that we are following our dreams and making them realities. Many of you have written books that were a dream and passion of yours. In our next issue we have some books and authors we will be mentioning. Share with us your passions, your dreams your journey to your own imagination of realities for you to make.
For me I hope this is only the beginning of my own path my own trail as I blaze along-side you to dreams-hopes and desires that I cannot wait for you and I to reach!
Conner Cummings is a professional photographer in the Metro DC area. Conner speaks his written words. As an autistic self-advocate Conner changed a law in the state of Virginia named after him – Conner’s Law. Together with his mom they are working to change this law state by state. He is the 2015 Autism Society of America’s ‘Advocate of the Year’. Conner also enjoys writing for his popular Facebook page Conquer for Conner.
Read about our “Off the Beaten Path” trailblazers in Zoom Autism Magazine, Issue 14:
- A Journey with Fire by Brigid Rankowski
- The Ideal, the Real, and Disability Advocacy by Finn Gardiner
- What Can Neurodiversity Libraries Do for the Autism Community? by Lei Wiley-Mydske
- Building Pride and Feeling the Weight of Marginalization by Kris Guin
Don’t miss these other great articles in Issue 14:
- Live Your Dreams Autistically by Becca Lory
- Will There Be a Future Beyond Acceptance? by Megan Amodeo
- The View from Here: My Road to Motherhood by Carly Fulgham
- What have you accomplished that you or others thought you would never be able to do?
Listen to an audio version of this article