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November 14, 2014

Young filmmakers get a kickstart on a teen zombie movie

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Two young filmmakers have drawn attention nationwide for raising over $50,000 for a new project—something most amateur filmmakers can only imagine. Their story is even more unique when considering that Sam Suchmann, 18, and Mattie Zufelt, 19, both have Down syndrome.

Sam and Mattie met while competing in track and field events at the Special Olympics in grade school and became best friends. Three years ago, they came up with the idea to make a teen zombie movie.

When Jesse Suchmann, Sam’s brother, heard about the project, he thought the boys’ interest would fade away. But when it became clear that the two were passionate about making a movie, and he helped them organize a Kickstarter campaign to raise money.

“I realized that, before we tried to do it in a DIY way, it might be best to just start and go big,” he said.

Zufelt describes the movie as a cross “between horror and comedy, drama.” Suchmann said the story focuses on teenagers their age. “We have every average, everyday teen drama, like love triangles, or like heartbreaks or betrayals,” he said.

The Kickstarter editors picked Sam and Mattie’s campaign as their project of the day on Halloween, and the Farrelly brothers, filmmakers who created “Dumb and Dumber” and “Something About Mary,” chimed in with support on Twitter.

Sam explained that making a movie is an important moment for him: “My whole life, I feel like I never fit in anywhere or had a voice, but some day that will change, I will be somebody. And that day is today.”


Warm up questions
  1. What is Down syndrome?
  2. What does it mean to be creative?
Critical thinking questions
  1. What are the challenges and potential roadblocks Sam and Mattie may have faced when talking to people about their project?
  2. How does Sam’s family view his Down syndrome?
  3. How does your school and community help individuals with developmental disabilities?
  4. What does this story tell you about friendship and connecting with other people?
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