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Best Friend

Best Friend is a family comedy, about Deirdre, a young girl from New York struggling to accept Los Angeles as her new home. With the help of her family and a very special new friend, things start looking up for Deirdre. The feature film, now in development, is based on the award winning short film that showcases heart-warming debut performances by Gitane Neil and Andrew “Julian” Alvarado.

Here is a link to the short film which screened at the 2021 Slamdance Film Festival, along with a brief description provided by RespectAbility:


The first draft of the feature screenplay was completed in 2019 prior to the pandemic. Since then it has been entered in screenplay competitions and received quarter and semi final qualifications. During the pandemic it has been drafted and redrafted dozens of times for disability authenticity, humor and production scale. Most recently it has been noted and received excellent feedback from both ReelAbilites and RespectAbility, both are industry wide recognized organizations that promote disability equity in media.

Full copies of the screenplay are available upon request. Email for a submission. Or, if you have access to you can access the script here:

The feature delves into daily struggles of being a teen with Down syndrome, adjusting to life in a new place, building friendships and popularity. With a diverse cast of characters the story is funny, quirky, contemporary, authentic and fast paced.

A few quotes from the readers at RespectAbility:

I really enjoyed the theme of this script. I know that some people may be offended that there were a ton of characters putting down characters with disabilities, but it was needed and it shows that we all should just be kind and nice to one another. I thoroughly enjoyed this script and I can't wait to see it on television, especially the portrayal of a main character with an intellectual disability. I love that. - Laquana Lightfoot

I loved that the disabilities of the characters played a secondary role to the story’s plot and other than it being mentioned from time to time. The story shows how these characters are capable of living normal everyday lives, like joining the school talent show and having success. It reflects the real society we live in. - Jacquill Moss


Made for the 2017 Easterseals Disability Film Challenge, Best Friend was written, shot, edited and delivered within a crazy 55 hour weekend.

Writer/ director Cory Reeder said, “My friend’s daughter has Down Syndrome and expressed an interest in being an actress, so I centered the story around her. Even though Gitane (Neil) had never acted before, and I had never worked with a performer who has Downs, her enthusiasm, sense of humor and charm gave me the confidence that she could carry the production.”

“After receiving the genre prompt from the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge, I began writing the story. I realized there was an opportunity to include other topics I care about: racial diversity, dog adoption, motherly tenderness, and strength. As an added twist, we were even able to cast Lexi, an adorable dog who has lost the use of her hind legs and uses a wheelchair.”

“I had my crew on standby and was blessed by some amazing actors that came out for the shoot. Being my third year doing the challenge, I’ve loved introducing seasoned cast and crew, which may be unaccustomed to working with people who have disabilities, to the warm, friendly atmosphere the event provides.”

Working with Reeder again for the third year in a row was Diana Elizabeth Jordan. Last year their collaboration on the film Boxed Out won her the Best Actor award. This year, not only was she cast as the quirky apartment manager Sue, but she asked to produce as well. So she joined the team, helping to schedule, cast and provide craft service to the production.

Best Friend was filmed in a frenzy on Saturday, April 22, from 9 am - 6 pm, finishing with just enough time to get the last shot as the sunset over Los Angeles. The film was then edited by Nathan Cox, who worked through the night and delivered the drive back to Reeder and Chad Eicher (post supervisor) the next morning.

The two of them hustled the rest of the day to tighten the edit, color the footage, add subtitles and finally upload for festival delivery. As it tends to do with things like this, it came down to the wire, but they made it just before the delivery cut-off time.

The response has been overwhelming, not just from friends and family but from other filmmakers and industry acquaintances. “I love what I do as a filmmaker,” says Reeder, “and whether this was lightning in a bottle or the result of years working, learning, and paying dues, I'm overjoyed with what our cast and crew were able to create. It looks beautiful, has heart, and has the essence of all I find dear in the world.”






Executive Producer CORY REEDER


Director/Writer CORY REEDER



Post Supervisor CHAD EICHER


Location Sound Mixer GAVIN FARNSWORTH


First Assistant Camera RODOLPHE PORTIER

Second Assistant Camera LIAM ARK

Script Supervisor KATYA LOBAN



Awards, Nominations, & Official Selections

Nom - 2017 Easterseals Disability Film Challenge – Best Filmmaker, Cory Reeder

Nom - 2017 Easterseals Disability Film Challenge – Best Actor, Gitane Neil

Nom - 2017 Director's Circle Festival of Shorts – Best Comedic Short

O.S. – 2021 SLAMDANCE Film Festival

O.S. – 2019 ReelAbilities Film Festival - HOUSTON, TX

O.S. – 2018 ReelAbilities Film Festival - NEW YORK, NY

O.S. – 2018 Canadian Diversity Film Festival - MIAMI, FL

O.S. – 2018 Canine Film Festival - MIAMI, FL

O.S. – 2017 Easterseals Disability Film Challenge - LOS ANGELES, CA

O.S. – 2017 Hollyshorts Film Festival - LOS ANGELES, CA

O.S. – 2017 Newfilmmakers Los Angeles: On Location - LOS ANGELES, CA

O.S. – 2017 Tacoma Film Festival - TACOMA WA

O.S. – 2017 Washington West Film Festival - DC/ VIRGINIA

O.S. – 2017 Yes Film Festival - COLUMBUS, INDIANA

O.S. – 2017 Picture This Film Festival - CALGARY, CAN

O.S. – 2017 Marina Del Rey Film Festival - MARINA DEL REY, CA

O.S. – 2017 Focus on Ability Film Festival - AUS

O.S. – 2017 Sprout Film Festival - NEW YORK, NY (touring)

O.S. – 2017 Kids First Film Festival - SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO

O.S. – 2017 Connect Film Festival - LOS ANGELES, CA

O.S. – 2017 Directors Circle Festival of Shorts - ERIE, PA

O.S. – 2017 Culver City Film Festival - CULVER CITY, CA

O.S. – 2017 People of Passion Film Festival - AUS


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