Disability Grant For Half Blind Jennifer With Aphasia To Pursue Film Career
by Jennifer Hardy
(Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
Hello, my name is Jennifer Hardy. I'm a 29-year-old woman born in, and living alone with my parents in, the greater Toronto area (GTA) in Canada.
Jennifer Hardy Selfie and Screenshot from Her Animation WSIM: What Suffered Inside Me
I'm an independent film maker, artist and an actress. I have been a creative artist since I was a kid and in my 20s I started learning some things in the film industry.Disability Issues
I have been half blind and suffering with aphasia for 15 years. My English level and grammar is around a little lower than a high school level.
I'm slow at reading and writing, I have trouble paying attention and I have difficulty understanding complicated words.
This was caused by a stroke when I was only 14 years old.
It happened on Oct. 20, 2000 during a French class. I was about to get ready for my presentation when a strange feeling in my brain occurred.
I told my teacher I needed to go to the washroom. All of a sudden I started to wobble, collapsed on the floor and minutes later I became unconscious.
Two days later I woke up in a hospital. There was a lump with stitches above my left skull. The doctors told me there was a blood clot on my left brain and that I had undergone brain surgery.
A lot of my logical memory (English, math, history) was erased. I forgot my mother's name and other simple words like bath, thumb, etc.
I had trouble speaking my words out properly while communicating, difficulty catching what people were saying and trouble understanding.
I was suffering aphasia. I lost part of my vision in both of my eyes, causing me to read slowly.
While my left brain was weak, my right brain became stronger but it was causing me to daydream almost nonstop and I kept losing my concentration. I became overly depressed and turned into a bitter person.
After taking speech therapy classes for three months to relearn English, my dad sent me to high school too early. I had trouble following the teacher's instructions and I felt left out in school.
A bunch of students in my classes didn't really wanna partner up with me because of my learning disability. I was being teased by some students when I couldn't understand easy things that I should be knowing about at that age.
I hated my life and had thoughts of committing suicide. But there was something that prevented me from doing it.
Years before my stroke happened, at age six I had an imaginary friend. While producing stories about my imaginary friend, I was picked on and teased a lot in elementary school because I shared about what I created.
Even though I was overly depressed because of the people from my school, I didn't ignore my imagination that I created.
When I was 12 I began working on a draft of a novel and hoped that one day I would create a film based on my imagination.
Although struggling with aphasia, I was able to pass high school using my right brain to focus on art. I was accepted for the Ontario College of Art and Design.
I studied my major program Drawing/Painting and took some extra classes of Integrated Media (like film and post production).
Combining those two programs that I learned, I ended up creating my first 2D classical animation “WSIM: What Suffered Inside Me” for my thesis project in 2008.
My animation was played in over a dozen film festivals and has so far won three best film awards.
You can have a look at my animation at:https://vimeo.com/31103733
Right now, I'm currently working/experimenting my own independent films. I've been studying acting to help improve my communication.
I'm working on it as a career even though I'm still facing against my challenges from aphasia, my half blindness and the ongoing migraine problems that I've been having lately.
Transportation is pretty expensive for me. Some of my film projects have been playing in film festivals outside of Ontario/Canada, but it's too pricey for me to go and travel.
Sometimes it's been difficult to save money from my Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) for equipment and the kinds of classes that I need for my career.
It would also be difficult to save money if I live on my own in downtown Toronto since most apartments are expensive there.
My family has been supporting me with food, but they owe a lot of money to the house and other things. So it's hard for them to help support me on flight transportation, equipment and other things.Income Efforts
When I was 25 I had a spouse (common-law) who helped me to apply for the Ontario Disability Support Program. I currently have no spouse.
I've been receiving around $890 per month with drug/dental plan, and extra money for transportation to see my family doctor and brain specialist.
Transportation and food while I'm downtown is what I mostly spend on to focus on my career goals.
I've been working with an acting agents lately while I'm a non-union. Money that I've been getting working in the film industry isn't that much.
Every time I earn money that's over $200 in a month, my ODSP ends up deducting half of the ODSP earnings that I get during that month.Specific Needs
I wish I had a guardian to help explain things for me when I'm confused, but unsure if that's possible. There are still a bunch of things that I haven't learned/understood in life. Like knowing how to have my own apartment, about taxes, government info, business, earning money in a kind of career, etc.
Once in a while I ask a friend for help, but I feel bad asking them continuously. I sometimes try and figure things out on my own, but it takes a long time because of my half blindness and understanding.
My mom's English isn't that great and she wouldn't really understand well to help me.
I'm looking for a grant to help me produce more of my own film/art projects (some experimental and some that will show a message). I'm also hoping to produce a film based on my story one day in the future, but unsure when.
It would be helpful if there is a grant to help me take more classes to improve my career.
My wish is also to have a grant to submit my work to more film festivals and go on flights to locations that my projects are being played. I have also been wishing to work in Los Angeles in films, but I'm unsure if that's possible.Business Idea
I am currently teaming up with a friend of mine. He is planning to produce projects based on people with disabilities and is also looking for a grant. I'm also hoping to make my own film/art projects.
I don't know much about the business or knowing how to earn money well and would like to learn more.
In the past I have volunteered/worked on approximately 50 independent short films, feature films, commercials, and others as a production assistant, animator, actress and editor.
I'm currently submitting my latest animation that was selected and shown for an international short film festival in 2015:https://www.facebook.com/opefilm/?fref=ts