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'Making Sense' Film Stars People with Disabilities Representing Primary Senses

Published: 2021/01/31 - Updated: 2021/02/09
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Synopsis: Independent feature film Making Sense starring people with disabilities representing five primary senses to premiere at Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival. Instead of focusing on disability, the film exemplifies the unique abilities our diverse cast brings to the table. The Boston Science Fiction Film Festival is the longest-running genre film festival in America and is back for its 46th year in a virtual environment with online screenings.

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The 46th Annual Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival announced that the independent feature film "Making Sense" will be virtually screened beginning on Thursday, Feb. 11 at 7:00 p.m. EST and continuing until February 15. The film is the first to feature five people with disabilities who each lack one of the primary senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell).


"Making Sense" is the story of an aging neuroscientist, who teams up with a group of young graduate students to prove his hypothesis that individuals with disabilities hold the key to unlocking a sixth sense, before his past catches up with him.

The Boston Science Fiction Film Festival is the longest-running genre film festival in America and is back for its 46th year in a virtual environment with online screenings. This year's lineup includes 100 films over five days, culminating in one massive 24-hour binge-fest. Tickets for individual screenings of "Making Sense" are $10 and available here with a free preview.

"We've created something fun and entertaining that helps turn the disability equation on its head. Instead of focusing on disability, the film exemplifies the unique abilities our diverse cast brings to the table," said Gregory Bayne, the film's director, producer and co-writer. "It was an opportunity to step out of my usual wheelhouse and pay homage to some of the films of my youth - Tron,' 'WarGames', 'Back to The Future' - in a fresh and interesting way."

The cast features Richard Klautsch and Jessi Melton in lead roles. Klautsch, who plays Dr. Fredrik Amberger, is a veteran stage actor, having acted for 21 seasons at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. Melton starred in several short, independent films before landing the role of Jules in an open audition that drew over a hundred actors.

Making Sense: Enlightened Senses

"Making Sense" is based on the science of neuroplasticity - the brain's ability to re-wire itself to compensate for a missing or diminished sense. One of the early pioneers of this work was Paul Bach-y-Rita who developed the concept of sensory substitution in the 1960s to treat patients with disabilities, often those caused by neurological problems. One of the first applications of sensory substitution he created was a chair which allowed blind people to 'see' by using vibrating plates on the user's back. Today, sensory therapies are used commonly to treat recovering stroke victims to aid in the re-wiring of their brains

In "Making Sense", people with disabilities representing the five physical senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell), played roles with their respective diminished senses. The film aims to change the perception of people of disabilities from being "damaged" to those with enlightened senses in other areas.

Making Sense: Synopsis

In an effort to prove his decades-old hypothesis that individuals with disabilities - those he describes as "sensory enlightened" - hold the key to unlocking a sixth sense, aging neuroscientist Dr. Frederik Amberger seeks out a promising graduate student, Jules Christopher.

At the risk of alienating her partners in the University lab, and driven by her own complicated past, Jules gets caught up in his quest. When it's revealed that Amberger has been hiding a secret that has him on the run from the FBI, Jules and team must decide how far they're willing to go in their pursuit to unlock the next frontier of human sensory experience.

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Official film poster for the movie - Making Sense. Image Courtesy of: Making Sense (
Official film poster for the movie - Making Sense. Image Courtesy of: Making Sense (

Making Sense: Cast with Disability

Five acting newcomers play supporting roles, representing the five physical senses were cast after open auditions were held:

Mike Barnett (Sight):

Mike Barnet (Toby) is a retired Navy veteran who gradually became blind due to aggressive onset of macular degeneration in 2019. Not one to be limited, Mike is an active jujitsu practitioner and golfer. He regularly participates in improve comedy in the Boise area. "Making Sense" is Mike’s first feature film.

Taylor Gonzalez (hearing):

Taylor Gonzalez (Dana) grew up in Pocatello, Idaho and is a college student attending the College of Southern Idaho. Deaf since birth, Taylor has always been interested in the energy of music. While attending the Idaho School for the Deaf and Blind, she became interested in theatre arts and performed in school performances. "Making Sense" is Taylor’s first feature film.

Miguel Ayala (taste):

Miguel Ayala (Max) has always had an interest in the arts. He’s a graduate of Boise State University and runs his own graphic arts business. Miguel was born prematurely with Cerebral Palsy in Mexico and his family emigrated to the U.S. while he was a young child. Miguel has been a strong advocate for the inclusion of people with disabilities and founded a blog "Down with Disability" to provide inspiration to others. Due to his infectious personality and fearless attitude, Miguel was encouraged to attend an open audition workshop for the film and was subsequently cast. "Making Sense" is Miguel’s first feature film.

Makenzie Ellsworth (touch):

Makenzie Ellsworth (Sam) had her life forever altered when she was paralyzed in a car crash in 2006 at age 15. Despite the physical challenges of being a paraplegic, Makenzie has excelled at wheelchair tennis and is an avid Cross Fit participant. She volunteered to be in the "Making Sense" trailer ( in the summer of 2018 which led to the financing of the production and subsequent filming in 2019. Makenzie serves as a program coordinator at St. Luke’s Health System. "Making Sense" is Makenzie’s first feature film.

Nyk Fry (smell):

Nyk Fry (Stevie) is a walking production studio. He’s served as a producer, editor, musician, sound engineer, photographer and videographer on various film and television productions. Since his teenage years, Nyk has lost the ability to smell, but to his chagrin, still has an appetite for junk food. He’s served as an actor in several film productions, including Reflections In The Mud and Paranormal Prison. Recently, Nyk directed Air Supply’s 30th Anniversary DVD, The Singer and The Song, as well as music videos for Brandie Frampton, Vanton, and PVH Project.

Bayne's previous work spans features, shorts, documentaries, and digital series. In 2019, Bayne released the independent feature "6 Dynamic Laws for Success (In Life, Love & Money)" available on Amazon Prime. "Making Sense" was co-written and executive produced by Doug Cole, an advocate for inclusion for those with disabilities and co-founder of the charity IncludeAbility Inc.

"Making Sense" bucks the trend of disability being underrepresented in films. Only 2.7 percent of characters in the 100 highest-earning movies of 2016 were depicted with a disability, despite 20 percent of the U.S. reporting a disability, according to a study by the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, 2017. For more information on the film, visit


This quality-reviewed article relating to our Films, Radio and TV section was selected for publishing by the editors of Disabled World due to its likely interest to our disability community readers. Though the content may have been edited for style, clarity, or length, the article "'Making Sense' Film Stars People with Disabilities Representing Primary Senses" was originally written by Making Sense Film, and published by on 2021/01/31 (Updated: 2021/02/09). Should you require further information or clarification, Making Sense Film can be contacted at Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith.

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