The Easterseals Disability Film Challenge gives filmmakers—with and without disabilities—the opportunity to collaborate to tell unique stories that showcase disability in its many forms.

The film challenge is a weekend-long filmmaking contest, open to all, that provides a platform for new voices in the entertainment industry. Each year, aspiring storytellers are prompted to creatively write, produce and complete a short film. Challenge winners receive invaluable access to entertainment professionals, opening the door to an industry notoriously difficult to enter.


Actor Nic Novicki launched the Disability Film Challenge in 2014 in response to seeing disabilities underrepresented both in front of and behind the camera. As someone with a disability, Nic created the challenge to give aspiring filmmakers the opportunity to showcase their work and provide them with meaningful exposure.

In 2017, Nic and Easterseals Southern California joined forces to expand the challenge, now known as the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge. As the leading nonprofit supporting people with disabilities, Easterseals brings additional attention to the challenge, using its numerous communications channels to encourage participation.

Headshot of Nick Novicki

Board Member, Easterseals Southern California
Founder & Director, Easterseals Disability Film Challenge

Nic Novicki is an actor, comedian and producer who has performed on six continents and is the 2017 recipient of the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists’ Harold Russell Award for his ongoing contributions to the overall awareness of the disability experience through the media.

His television credits include: Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos, Loudermilk, Alone Together, Jack and Triumph, The Neighbors, Austin and Ally, Private Practice and Drop Dead Diva. He has appeared in several movies, including L!fe Happens, November Rule, The Last 5 Years, Dead Ant, Boston Girls, Breaking Wind, and will soon be seen in the upcoming Hipsters Gangsters, Aliens, and Geeks.

Nic has produced several feature films, television pilots and web series for companies including Sony, CBS, Air China, Maxim and Universal and is an active member on the Producers Guild of America’s Diversity Committee. Nic wrote for the CBS Diversity Showcase and has also written and directed several short films including A Little Broke, which was acquired by the TV station Shorts HD (now the DISH Network).

As a stand-up comedian, Nic has performed on AXS Gotham Comedy Live and traveled the world, including several tours through Armed Forces Entertainment, performing for troops in Kosovo, England, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, France. Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Portugal and Spain.

Nic is a board member of Easterseals Southern California (ESSC) and the founder and director of the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge.

While 57 million Americans have disabilities, they are the most under-represented population in entertainment and media. As someone with a disability himself, Nic launched the Film Challenge in 2013 in response to the under-representation of talent with disabilities both in front of and behind the camera to give aspiring filmmakers the opportunity to showcase their work and provide them with meaningful exposure. In 2017, Novicki joined forces with Easterseals – the nation’s leading nonprofit supporting people and families with disabilities – to expand the event, now known as the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge.

During the Challenge, registered filmmakers – with and without disabilities – are given a span of 55 hours over the designated weekend to write and produce short films (three-to-five minutes) that Help Change the Way We View Disability, which are then judged in four award categories – Best Film, Best Filmmaker, Best Actor and Best Awareness Campaign – by a noted and diverse group of entertainment industry talent.

Since the Challenge launched in 2013, aspiring filmmakers from around the world have created more than 150 films which have been viewed online and at festivals. Participantss have included Sofiya Cheyenne, who was cast in the TV show Loudermilk; Rachel Handler, who submitted her 2018 film and won the AT&T Underrepresented Filmmaker Award; Jamie Brewer, who won Best Actor in 2017 for her role in Whitney’s Wedding, has been acclaimed for her role on American Horror Story and was the first model with Down Syndrome to walk the runway at New York Fashion Week; Dickie Hearts, Best Filmmaker winner in 2015, who went on to win an HBO Project Greenlight digital series competition; and Jenna Kanell, winner of Best Film in 2015 who went on to give a TEDx Talk about her experience.

Nic attended Temple University’s Fox School of Business, the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, the school of Film and Television, and UCB Theatre. He resides in Hollywood, California.

Visit Nic’s website at https://www.nicnovicki.com/

Easterseals Disability Services Logo

Easterseals is the indispensable resource for people and families living with disabilities. We’re changing the way the world defines and views disability by making a profound, positive difference in people’s lives – something we’ve been doing for 100 years. Easterseals offers a variety of services to help people address life’s challenges and achieve personal goals. Our services empower individuals to live, learn, work and play in our communities. Learn more at easterseals.com/southerncal.