A FILM-MAKER is hoping to break down barriers for those with dyslexia after his documentary on the condition won ‘best film’ at the Leamington Film Festival.
Thom Davies from Stratford first documented his struggles with dyslexia while studying film-making at Worcester University.
‘I am Dyslexic’ began as a short documentary in which he interviewed family and friends, and added his own anecdotes and animation clips. He uploaded it to YouTube where it received thousands of hits and a string of praise which encouraged him to make it into a feature-length documentary.
The 34-year-old told the Observer part of his motivation was because the lack of improvement in the education system for dyslexics over the past 25 years.
He said: “In the early 90s dyslexia was known but the education system was not equipped to cope with it, or at least not equipped to cope with me.
“As no-one else in my class had it, I just thought I was stupid, and so did the rest of the class. I was the only one who couldn’t prove on paper what they had learnt so was given a helper who followed me around alienating me from my classmates.”
Speech problems lead to Thom’s diagnosis at a young age. As a youngster, he made up his own words and sign language to communicate because ‘his tongue had a life of its own’.
And today he still uses a number of creative coping strategies including fixing dinosaur toys to his dashboard to determine left and right.
It took him some ten years to finally discover his talent for film-making, after he enrolled on a number of college courses.
He said: “School had destroyed my confidence, self-esteem and created great social anxiety, so it took years for me to find myself again.
“When I began making my own films my confidence returned. I stopped worrying about embarrassing myself and learnt to laugh with those who laughed at me. I thought ‘if I can’t beat them I’ll join them’ and by becoming a joker I did beat them and life got so much better.”
Thom’s documentary was recently hailed ‘best film’ at the recent film festival held at Temperance in Bath Street.
He added: “This is the first film festival it’s been in but I’ve received great feedback from everyone who’s seen it, particularly teachers, dyslexics and parents of dyslexics. The teachers felt it should be part of teacher training as they learnt a lot from it.
“I hope its message can help break down barriers that restrict the education and life choices of those who think and learn differently, because it’s not a disability, it’s a difficulty.
“I’d like to think it may encourage others to believe in themselves, accept their challenges and know they are not alone.”
And Thom’s creativity has not stopped there. He is currently writing a children’s book which is being illustrated by his wife Lauren and has some short films in the pipeline with themes including homelessness and the environment.
‘I am Dyslexic’ is being shown at Leamington’s Spa Centre on Saturday February 15 at 7.30pm.