About the participants

Carly Harnadek, Stef Pronk

Livie, Ted, Anika, Izzy and Oskar

Read their blog – The Muddy Path

Carly and Stef live in the countryside north-west of Toronto, Canada with their five children – Livie age 14, Ted age 12, Anika age 6, and twins Izzy and Oskar age 4.

Stef works as a mechanical designer and freelance artist and Carly has a background in marketing, permaculture design and, of course, all things autism! They enjoy homeschooling all five children despite their busy schedule.  They are active members of their Homeschool Co-op and volunteer their time to organize learning programs at their home and in nearby towns. They hope to expose all the kids in their Co-op to innovative lessons and projects exploring the Arts as well as the much needed STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) areas of learning. They look forward to many years of networking with local community experts to help the kids explore their interests and develop new ideas.

Temple Grandin

Professor of Animal Science and author with autism

Temple Grandin’s Official Website

Temple Grandin is a well-known author and speaker. As an adult living with autism, Temple has acted as a mentor and a voice for many within the autism community. She has also been a pioneer in improving the handling and welfare of farm animals. Temple has appeared on numerous TV shows such as 20/20. Larry King Live, and Prime Time.  Her books include: Thinking in Pictures, Livestock Handling and Transport and The Autistic Brain. Her book Animals in Translation has been on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Temple’s achievements are remarkable because she was an autistic child.  At age two she had no speech and all the signs of severe autism. Many hours of speech therapy, and intensive teaching enabled Temple to learn speech.  As a teenager, life was hard with constant teasing.  Mentoring by her high school science teacher and her aunt on her ranch in Arizona motivated Temple to study and pursue a career as a scientist and livestock equipment designer. Dr. Grandin was awarded her Ph.D in Animal Science from the University of Illinois in 1989 and is currently a Professor at Colorado State University.

Jackie McMillan

Thrive with Autism

Autism researcher and adult autistic Jackie McMillan has been an autism turnaround strategist for herself since 1976, and for others since 1993.  She has a global mission to assist autistic spectrum children and adults in optimizing their quality of life and function — in truly thriving –and to help parents, educators, and supporting professionals in creating environments which enable these gains. Jackie distills the medical research and collective experiences of autism into clear, simple, well-supported, and effective action steps in her mentoring, trainings, and programs.

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About the filmmakers

Steve Suderman

Director / ProducerOrangeville Road Pictures

As a documentary director and producer, Steve has spent the last decade immersing himself in intimate and personal stories of people going through life-altering experiences. This trajectory started with documenting his own family’s journey losing their farm on the Canadian prairie (Over Land, 2008) and carried on into his feature documentary about five young people from urban backgrounds risking it all to become small-scale organic farmers (To Make A Farm, 2011). Premiering as one of the ten most popular Canadian films at Vancouver International Film Festival, To Make A Farm went on to win the Santa Cruz audience choice award as well as three Golden Sheaf awards including Best of Festival.

With Great Distinction (currently in development) continues with the theme of life-altering transitions. This feature documentary will combine the journeys of five individuals retiring from or leaving work they have done for most of their lives.

Merit Jensen Carr

Executive ProducerMerit Motion Pictures

Merit Motion Pictures is one of Canada’s leading producers of feature documentaries and documentary series.

Merit’s daughter Emma has had a lifelong struggle with Autism and Down Syndrome. Beyond the Spectrum’s message of unconditional love and compassion holds great personal meaning for Merit and her family.  “It is vital for us to find creative ways to support our children’s abilities as we assist them with their many challenges. More than anything, each one of us needs to feel accepted and loved for who we truly are – despite our differences.”

Passionate about creating films that enlighten, inform and inspire, Merit has won dozens of international awards including the Hot Docs Don Haig Award for Producing and the prestigious Humanitas Award for films of humanitarian significance.  Most notably, she produced the “Call of the Forest”, a transmedia feature documentary that inspires us all to replant our native forests. She is the creative force behind the hit series, Polar Bear Town produced for Smithsonian Channel US with Earth Touch US; What Plants Talk About for PBS Nature; and the 4x1hr transmedia series One Ocean with CBC’s the Nature of Things, National Geographic International and Science Channel. The recipient of many international awards, One Ocean tells the story of the world’s ocean from its early beginnings to dire predictions for its future.

Jackie Dzuba


Jackie Dzuba has been working in the film and television industry for over 25 years as a Gemini-Award-winning picture editor.

Throughout her career Jackie has edited television documentaries for such broadcasters as CBC, A&E, Global Television, Vision TV, Al Jazeera UK, and NHK Japan.  Recently the documentary Silent Bombs: All for the Motherland took the Best-of-Festival Golden Sheaf Award at the 2010 Yorkton Short Film and Video Festival – the first time a Saskatchewan production has won this prize in the festival’s 65 year history.

Orlando Braun

Production Manager

Orlando Braun is an award-winning Canadian Filmmaker for film & television, and founder of Prairie Boy Productions.  He received his Bachelor of Arts in Film at the University of Manitoba and a Masters of Fine Arts in Producing from the New York Film Academy in Universal Studios, California. Orlando was selected for the Telefilm Canada Producers Mentorship in 2012 through the CMPA and as a result worked with Merit Motion Pictures as Business Affairs and Production Management on award-winning theatrical and television documentaries for broadcasters like CBC’s DocZone and The Nature of Things, PBS Nature, Smithsonian Channel, OLN, TVO and more.

Laurel Hogan

Marketing and Community Outreach

Laurel has worked in fundraising for many years. She has extensive experience working with non-profit organizations from hospitals and medical fitness facilities such as Seven Oaks Hospital Foundation and the Reh-Fit Centre to arts organizations like Artbeat Studio in Winnipeg. Laurel also served as a director of the College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses of Manitoba. Laurel’s combined experience of working in the health sector and her background in philanthropy provide her with a unique perspective when it comes to building partnerships and facilitating community outreach on behalf of the Beyond the Spectrum. 

Alexa Rosentreter

Business Affairs

Alexa brings a Bachelor of Commerce from McGill University, a MBA from Rollins College/ Crummer Graduate School of Business, and she spent six years managing the film and tax credit programs at the provincial funding agency, Manitoba Film & Sound (MF&S). Since arriving at Merit Motion Pictures, Alexa has been the head of business affairs. In 2010 she was the co-producer (with Tactica Interactive), of the multiple award winning, ‘One Ocean Interactive’, the digital media component of One Ocean. A 4×60 minute series co-produced with CBC, Nature of Things and Merit Motion Pictures.

Produced in association with:
Produced with the participation of:
The Government of Manitoba -Manitoba Film & Video Production Tax Credit
Digital media produced with the participation of:
The Government of Manitoba -Manitoba Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit
Produced by:

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