Russell Icke on Editing the Acclaimed 'Me, My Autism and I'

Shedding light on the gender gap

Russell Icke has cut several commercials for Tom Hooper, and he's always up for working with the Oscar-winning director. But Icke, a partner and editor at Whitehouse Post, was particularly keen to collaborate with Hooper on "Me, My Autism and I."

Developed by Havas London with support from Ambitious About Autism, the short film for laundry-products maker Vanish depicts a day in the life of 15-year-old Ash. It's part of a larger campaign that features autistic girls and their stories.

"The fact that girls are three times less likely than boys to be diagnosed with autism is a statistic that staggered me, and it's a subject that requires far more attention from all of us," Icke says. "So, this was not the sort of project I felt I could turn away from, especially as I have four girls."

The film, which just won Channel 4's Diversity in Advertising Award, opens on a typical morning at home. It's a school day, and Ash doesn't want to get out of bed. As the story unfolds, we see the challenges she faces as an autistic teen. Through her attachment to her favorite hoodie (Cynthia Lawrence-Johns was the film's wardrobe stylist), we learn how clothing can provide sensory regulation and comfort.

Hooper, well known for feature films The King's Speech and The Danish Girl, cast Ash, who is in fact autistic, as the star of "Me, My Autism and I." Her personal story illustrates the gender gap. (Ash was diagnosed just 18 months ago).

"Me, My Autism and I" marks her acting debut. Ash's mother and father also appear in the film, along with her sister Lily and two of her best friends. While Ash's mother has acted on stage, her dad and sister are making their debuts.

As he was cutting the docudrama-style video shot by DP Steve Annis, "I was conscious of being sensitive toward her," Icke says of Ash, "as well as getting the balance right—of being at the right level of confrontation, anger, emotion."

Icke says Hooper's footage felt honest and authentic. The director captured that reality by having the script rewritten to incorporate the family's real-life trials and tribulations. He also allowed improvisation on set.

"My job was to help him portray the stress and anxiety, and push the feeling of claustrophobia that was endured by Ash daily in her own home," Icke says.

The editor became attached to Ash and her family after spending hours shaping the film's narrative.

"I'd just like to say how proud I was of the family for just being so unbelievably incredible, not only as actors but human beings putting themselves under the spotlight and bringing this topic to the forefront," he says.

CREDITS

Client: Vanish (Reckitt)
UK Marketing Director, Reckitt: Cigdem Kurtulus
Head of Media for UK Hygiene, Reckitt: Alex Owen
Senior Brand Manager, Reckitt: Claudia Weston

Creative Agency: Havas London
UK Group CEO, Havas Creative: Xavier Rees
Chief Creative Officer: Vicki Maguire
Reckitt Global Executive Creative Director: Elliot Harris 
Creative Director: Nick Rowland
Creative team: Hollie Iles (Senior Creative), Sasha Midgley (Creative) & Aly Marx-Blackwell (Creative)
Global Managing Director: Tamara Greene
Managing Partner: Ainhoa Wadsworth
Business Director: Dom Skuratko
Senior Account Director: Catherine Martyn
Account Director: Nicole Burgess
Account Manager: Irina Patrichi
Executive Strategy Director: Britt Iversen
Group Strategy Director: Becky Taylor-Wilkinson 
Strategist: Tom King
Head of Creative Services: Shaun Musgrove
Head of Production: Katie Keith
Head of Film: Louise Bonnar
Senior Film Producer: Katie Wood
Assistant Film Producer: Sian O'Halloran
Creative Production Director: Stefanie Price
Creative producer: Kieran Worboys
Creative producer: Lucy Farrell
Senior Brand Designer: Sarah Butler
Senior Designer: Darta Losane
Conceptual Designer: Morgan Shipley
Senior Business Affairs Manager: Marta Kisluk
New Business & Consultant: Charlotte Anderson
   
Production Company: SMUGGLER
Director: Tom Hooper
Executive Producer: Lucy Kelly 
Executive Producer: Fergus Brown
Producer: Molly Pope
DP: Steve Annis
Production designer: Robin Brown
Production Manager: Meghan Young
Production Coordinator: Sidney Arthur
Production Runner: Izzy Davis
1st AD: Chris Kelly
Wardrobe Stylist: Cynthia Lawrence-Johns
Makeup Artist: Sara Bowden

Post Production: Whitehouse
Editor: Russell Icke 
Assistant Editor: Thomas Sheriff
Head of Production: Ella Sedgwick
Executive Producer: Annabel Bennett

Casting Director: Kharmel Cochrane

Soundtrack Composer: Peter Raeburn @ Soundtree 
Producer: Jay James

Audio post-production: 750MPH
Sound Engineer: Sam Ashwell
Head of production: Olivia Ray

Post Production: Company 3/The Post Arm
Colorist: Simon Elbourne
Post production producer: Chris Anthony (Company 3), Helen Stanley, Emma Cook (The Post Arm)

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