Kristopher Hoffman is a New Orleans based filmmaker who created the web-series Project Z: History of the Zombie Apocalypse. He also runs an autism self-advocacy blog; here is a link to his website:
Q: What made you interested in starting an autism blog?
A: As an Autistic Spectrum Individual, I encountered a lot of misinformation and a general lack of understanding about my condition. I joined a couple autistic spectrum forum sites and started discussing with the other Autistic Spectrum Individuals and discovered a need that I was uniquely qualified to fill. There are a lot of books about dealing with autism, but very few of them are written from the autistic perspective. Most of them are Neurotypicals trying to fathom autistic behaviors and perceptions from a different frame of reference. So I filled the niche, and started writing the blog series “Care and Feeding of Your Aspie”. Most of the issues are based on suggestions, situations and questions posed by other Autistic Spectrum Individuals – things that they wish that the NTs in their life understood or at least had a frame of reference for.
Q: How would you define Autistic Spectrum Individuals?
A: The simple answer to that is – a person that has been diagnosed with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder. It is succinct, but is lacking in depth. Personally, I define an Autistic Spectrum Individual as a PERSON with autism. Like NTs we are people… As such, we desire the same love, respect and acceptance that we see the NTs around us engage in. Even simpler… I define Autists as people.
Q: What is the most misunderstood thing about autism?
A: The most understood thing about Autism… that is a difficult question… Honestly, many NTs think that the can understand the autistic condition. Studies (using High Definition Fiber Tracking) are starting to show that the nerve bundles in the autistic brain are structured differently than those in the Neurtotypical brain. As such, I do not believe it is truly possible for a Neurotypical individual to truly grasp what it is to be autistic. On the other side of that coin, I also do not believe it is possible for autistics to understand the NT condition, either.
Q: What special insights about autism can your blog provide that others cannot?
A: Another tough question. Autistic Spectrum Individuals have a tendency towards obsessive behaviors that are channeled into what are commonly referred to as “Special Interests.” In these interests, an autistic spectrum individual will become, quite literally, an expert on the topic… and sometimes – can be THE authority. The problem with this is that we have little control over what these special interests are. It is rare that you will find someone that has the autistic condition, NT/Autistic relations, translating NT communication into Autistic perceptions as their special interest. It is even more rare to find someone with that and writing/communication as their special interest… I am that odd combination. I have spent almost two decades tugging on the tangled web that is my psyche, analysing what is in there. I have also been lucky enough to find a significant other that “gets me.” She has helped me with the translations and understanding the differences between autistic and NT perceptions. This confluence of input, information and soul searching has allowed me to understand and relate the information in a way that I have not seen elsewhere.
Q: Where do you fall into the spectrum?
A: I have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. With the debut of the DSM-V, that diagnosis is no longer available… in modern terms, I would be described as having a moderately impairing Autistic Spectrum Disorder. That sounds benign, but moderate impairment when dealing with social issues, sensory issues and obsessive interests is debilitating at times.
6. What made you interested in being a filmmaker?
A: For me, film making is one of my special interests… I don’t know what got me interested in it… but something triggered it and I have not looked back. Special Interests tend to come and go. However, some of us are lucky enough to find a life long special interest, and film making is that for me… What ever triggered it, the pursuit of special interests releases the same chemicals that NTs do when they are in love… so… I am into it all the way.
Q: What makes your zombie series different from others?
A: Unlike most zombie series, mine has hope. All of the series are focused on the hopelessness of the world after Zombies. If we can ever get onto the stories that I want to tell, the series will end in the vanquishing of the undead menace – something that is not at all common.
Q: Why do you think Zombies are so popular these days?
A: I think they are so popular because there is no real explanation. They aren’t a part of our collective unconscious like vampires and mummies… they started with “Night of the Living Dead.” Since we don’t have explanations, there is a certain uncertainty that makes people nervous. Also, the concept that the dead, people you recognize, people you loved – getting up and trying to kill you lends itself to a powerful and visceral horror.
Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your filmmaking?
A: That is my day job – I am a film maker. I am working on several projects and paying my dues. It’s not been profitable yet, but that is going to change. Everything my partner and I send to festival gets shown or takes awards… So it is only a matter of time.
Q: What is unique about the New Orleans film scene?
A: The same thing that is unique about New Orleans – the culture. We do things differently here… and there is a certain amount of culture shock for film crews from other places. New York and L.A. crews come down here learn that their fast, business like demeanor doesn’t work here because it lacks respect… And that cultural respect (which I will admit is fading away, like it is all over the country) is inherent in the way we do things and the way we treat our actors and crew.
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)