Young visual artists with autism nominated for Oscar for 'Doctor Strange'

Saturday, February 25, 2017 01:12AM
No matter who takes home the Oscar for visual effects on Sunday, some uniquely-talented artists already feel like winners.


SHERMAN OAKS, LOS ANGELES - No matter who takes home the Oscar for visual effects on Sunday, some uniquely-talented artists already feel like winners.

Marvel's "Doctor Strange" takes us into a new dimension in cinematic technology, and they're doing this with a secret weapon. Joining Marvel's cinematic universe are unseen heroes with unique super powers.

"They have laser-like focus," said Susie Zwerman, studio executive producer at Exceptional Minds.

Iron-clad concentration and an aptitude for learning new technology -- this is how some movie executives describe young visual artists Jacob Fenster and Noah Schneider, who have autism and now work at Exceptional Minds Studios in Sherman Oaks.

Just out of training, their credits include the Oscar-nominated movie "Doctor Strange."

"You don't expect to have this big of a movie the first time, " said Schneider.

Victoria Alonso oversees the production and visual effects at Marvel Studios. Not only does she work with artists at exceptional minds, she's hired two.

"For me, they have the perfect ability instead of disability," she said.

Alonso encourages other executives to have an open mind.

"They're helping us be more efficient in filmmaking. We are hopefully helping their careers," Alonso added.

Most people have no idea what it takes to remove a boom mic, merge two shots, or change a background. That kind of work can be so complex, it can take hours, days and sometimes weeks.

"To be honest, you have to have a lot of patience for that stuff - is one thing - and I just have this type of patience," said Schneider.

Marvel Studios is planning to partner on 15 more movies with Exceptional Minds. One project in the upcoming "Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2" involves something never done before.

"For most people it's hard to keep a secret, but for me, it's easy to keep a secret," Schneider added.

Their lips are sealed, but what they will share is the pride they'll feel on Oscar Sunday.

"If it wins, it wins. If it doesn't win, it still won in my heart and in my eyes," Fenster shared.

It's a feeling more valuable than Oscar gold.

Don't miss the 89th Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. ET| 4 p.m. PT LIVE on ABC. Red carpet coverage begins at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT with "On The Red Carpet At The Oscars." Check your local listings.
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