Spectrum Laboratory Is Looking Forward To Its 2022 June Concert, Summer of Spec
The mission of Spectrum Laboratory is to educate and empower autistic and neurodivergent artists to fulfill their passions and dreams for employment in the entertainment industry. We prepare our student artists by offering mentorships and training through their own creations of music, film and animation. We illuminate diversity and tell inspiring stories to help break down the inclusion barrier. We provide education and collaborative experiences with entertainment professionals, teaching social and professional skills for success in the entertainment industry.
- Since beginning in January 2015 there have been nearly 200 songs released through Spec Lab Records, from dozens of autistic artists
- Many Spectrum Laboratory students have appeared on the Netflix show “Atypical”
- Spectrum Laboratory created “Boys Don’t Wear Dresses”, an award winning short film that explores the life of a transgender neurodivergent youth. In 2020, this original film has been an official selection for 18 film festivals and has won 7 awards, including Best Screenplay, Audience Choice, Best LGBQT and Favorite Film!
- Students regularly secure auditions and employment for acting and voice acting roles
- Students landing paid jobs of creating music compositions for film and tv productions including
“Sesame Street”, “Exceptional Minds”, and the “Special Olympics”
- Spectrum Laboratory was 1 out of 600 nonprofits chosen by Facebook and Oculus to create “Use Your Imagination,” a virtual reality short musical created exclusively for their VR for Good program
HI! THANKS FOR TAKING THE TIME TO CHAT WITH US! TELL US ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY SO FAR?
It started with a friendship between Garth Herberg and Jason Weissbrod, and their shared passion working with the autism community. Garth was working as a music director, composer and musician, and Jason as director, actor and producer, when they decided to start Spectrum Laboratory. Their goal was to create high quality content for autistic artists and show off their talents to get work within the entertainment industry. (Spec Labs) began in 2015 with two classes, filmmaking and music recording. Since this time, the program has grown to include additional classes in music production, short film making, voice-acting, digital animation, music performance, improv acting, an introductory program for digital storytelling, and mindfulness. We’re seven years in and now we’re more focused than ever on creating a bridge between the entertainment industry and our students.
WAS ESTABLISHING SPECTRUM LABORATORY AT SUCH A GIGANTIC LEVEL EFFORTLESS, OR DID YOU BATTLE TO GET THERE?
There’s definitely been a learning curve and we’re still growing all the time. We never really looked at things from the standpoint of battling or having to overcome some impossible task. It’s been a day to day, one foot after the other process of figuring out what comes next. There have been continuous challenges, but that’s to be expected and it falls in line with the challenges many in the autism community face; achieving an independent life, finding work, and having a meaningful place in the world. We never thought it would be easy, but we knew it would be worthwhile and it’s proving to be a huge success so far!
HOW DID THE CONCEPT OF COLLABORATING WITH NEURODIVERGENT AND AUTISTIC ARTISTS COME ABOUT? AND WHAT DO YOU DO TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THEIR LIVES?
We have had many great experiences working with autistic artists and students before starting Spectrum Laboratory. There’s great stories in the autism world, wonderful people, supportive families and a LOT of talent. Working with neurodivergent and autistic artists was a natural progression for us. We found ourselves falling into working and teaching the arts to this community, and after a while we wanted to do it on our own terms with an emphasis on our respective areas of expertise, music and filmmaking. It felt right and it still does. We love it! There’s a lot of impact that we think we’ve been able to make on our students since Spec Labs began. There’s now a thriving community and camaraderie between artists and spec labs and many families, so on a purely social level we think it has helped a lot of people connect and be less isolated. Professionally we’ve been able to support our students as they make inroads into the entertainment business. We’ve seen our artists land auditions for TV and film, release music into the world, and get hired to create music for podcasts, TV shows and movies. Many of our voice actors have also auditioned and landed their first gigs as well. There’s a culture of friendship, and professional growth in all of our classes. We think everyone feeds off of it.
HOW WAS IT TO BE FEATURED IN VARIOUS NEWS MAGAZINES AND CHANNELS, INCLUDING SHOUT OUT LA MAGAZINE?
It’s been great getting more attention and coverage of the work we’re doing and we hope that will continue so we can shed more light on the community and artists we love supporting. We’d really like to bring more focus to inclusion and talent in this group of people that can be marginalized by many institutions within our society, especially the entertainment industry.
HOW DO YOU DIFFERENTIATE YOUR SERVICES FROM THOSE OF YOUR COMPETITORS?
Spec Labs courses are uniquely designed to accommodate students at a variety of skill levels and provide a person-centered path to excellence. We combine an art education conservatory with real-world commercial production, making us a place for neurodivergent artists to learn, collaborate, and produce their best works in filmmaking, music, voice acting, animation, and visual art. Our expectations and beliefs are that every person at Spec Labs is capable of developing professional skills for the entertainment industry through consistent effort, guidance, and real-world career preparedness. We also focus on each individual’s talent and create projects and goals specifically tailored for that artist’s passion to help them grow in the field they choose.
PLEASE TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR UPCOMING HOSTING EVENT
We are very excited to announce our upcoming concert, “Summer of Spec” June 17th (www.speclabs.org/summerofspec)! We’ve had the good fortune of working with an incredible venue, Playa Studios, allowing us to put on full display the great music and musicians of Spec Labs! After years of being in lockdown and not being able to share the live music experience with our artists, this will be a huge moment for us. We’ll be celebrating our music, our artists, and raising funds to help us house and provide financial aid to students for the Fall round of Spec Lab’s programs.
WHAT’S SOMETHING WE SHOULD KNOW THAT MIGHT SURPRISE US?
Some of your favorite icons in the entertainment industry are also autistic or happen to have Asperger’s. This includes famous musicians, actors, directors, and writers. This really should be a given by now, but I come across people often that have no idea. In an effort to normalize and demystify autism it’s important we consider that most if not all professions, within the entertainment industry or not, could be performed by an autistic person.
ANY UPCOMING PROJECTS YOU CAN TALK ABOUT?
Summer of Spec, our upcoming concert is at the forefront of our minds right now. It’s really the first time we’ve built an entire stage show around our musicians, including stage direction, production design, lighting design, the works! All the musicians are so excited and will have been rehearsing nearly 5 months by the time we get on stage June 17th. It’s going to be a blast and will communicate through music so much more than we can say in words to describe what we do and who our artists are.
WHAT IS ONE MESSAGE THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO GIVE TO YOUR FANS?
For any fans of what we do, especially people on the spectrum that might be tuning in and feel a creative spark within themselves, please pursue your own creativity! If our artists can follow their passion and do it, so can you! Not everyone is meant to be an artist, we need fans just as badly as we need creators to keep this thing going, but if you are someone, or perhaps you are a parent or friend of someone that has creative talent, get in touch with us. Let us know what you‘re up to and maybe we can team up. We’re always on the lookout for new talent that finds joy in being creative.
WHERE CAN OUR READERS FIND YOU ONLINE?
We have lots of places to keep up with us online, here’s a few: