LOS ANGELES -- Romantic love is difficult enough to navigate if you're neurotypical (Exhibit A: the entire rom-com genre). But if you've been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, the perils and pitfalls of dating, relationships and commitment can seem like insurmountable chasms.
How do you apologize to your girlfriend after a fight if you can't read facial cues? What does physical intimacy look like if you hate being stroked or hugged? These are just some of the questions that people with autism grapple with on a daily basis -- and the subject of a new documentary called "Autism In Love."
Independent filmmakers Matt Fuller and Carolina Groppa in Los Angeles, Calif. have been exploring the issue for the past 18 months, following four people and four couples as they look for love and try to keep it. Halfway through production already, Fuller and Groppa posted their production plan to Kickstarter Monday to raise money to finish the film. In addition to the video they shot making their case to would-be backers (above), Fuller and Groppa also posted a compelling preview of the footage they've shot so far.
WATCH (story continues below):
Groppa got the idea for the documentary while working as an administrative assistant for Dr. Ira Heilveil, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA medical school. It was essentially a day job to support herself as she pursued acting and other film projects, Groppa explained to The Huffington Post.
But when Heilveil asked Groppa to help him with research for a new book, the stories she read about members of the autism community and their romantic adventures quickly became a passion project. She approached friend Matt Fuller (the pair had met at film school at the University of Central Florida) with an idea for a documentary. As of this story's publish date, they are half-way done with film production.
"I was immediately hooked because I was always looking for stories about characters who want something it seems they can't have," said Fuller in a phone interview with The Huffington Post. Fuller, who has a background in film development at Sony and MBST Entertainment, also admitted that he had been looking for something "a little bit more fulfilling."
"I'm in love with all of my subjects," Fuller added. "When I immersed myself in their world I realized how beautiful it was ... it's an amazing opportunity to examine a part of human experience that's important to us all."
Still, like the wider population, not everyone with autism longs for romance, pointed out Groppa to HuffPost.
"Even in the neurotypical world, that's not for everybody," said Groppa. "Not everybody with autism wants [romantic] love." Groppa hopes her film will help viewers "redefine [their] own conception of love -- not just how it relates to someone with autism."
The filmmakers hope to raise enough money to finish filming, hire an editor and send it out to film festivals. To learn more about their project, check out their Kickstarter page and watch the video below.