Flying Lessons

“Flying Lessons” follows two estranged sisters forced together by their mother’s sudden death: Beatrice, an autistic high schooler who wants to learn to fly, and Talia, a queer musician with no interest in teaching her.
Starring and co-written by the autistic actress the story is based on, the film showcases a unique and underrepresented perspective on death and grief.

  • Sarah Waldron
    Shorts: Make Believe, Limits, La Mirada, Disconnect
  • Sarah Waldron
  • Julia Schanker
  • Shayvawn Webster
  • Eric Stoltz
    Bull, Madam Secretary, Confessions of a Teenage Jesus Jerk
  • Jin Ha
    Pachinko, Devs, Love Life
  • Danielle Cooper
    Line Producers Assistant, Apple TV+
  • Shayvawn Webster
    Key Cast
    Happiness For Beginners, Law and Order, Devs
  • Julia Schanker
    Key Cast
  • Tori Ashley Matos
    Key Cast
  • April Fritts
    Key Cast
    "Rachel "
  • Gina Berceau
    Key Cast
    "Social Worker Lady"
    Bridge and Tunnel, Madam Secretary
  • John Ort
    Fire Island, The Swarm, Bull
  • Daniel Alanis
    Le Voyageur, Dos Consejos
  • Reno Kersey
    Let Them Have It - Album
  • Keith Putnam
    Bull, Madam Secretary, Almost Family
  • Vinny Alfano
    Sound Mixer
    Shotgun Wedding, Uncoupled, Russian Doll
  • Rachel Jablin
    Post-Prod Sup
    Shotgun Wedding, The Half of It, American Assassin
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    drama, dark comedy, lgbtq, autism
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 24 minutes 32 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    July 1, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    20,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Sarah Waldron

A NYC based writer and filmmaker, Sarah merges narrative, documentary, and experimental styles, centering her work on queer women. She was a cinema student in India, a Filmmakers Without Borders fellow in Honduras, a consultant at a film distribution company in China, and worked on sets in New York. Her shorts "Make Believe", "Disconnect" and "La Mirada" have been featured in domestic and international festivals.

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Director Statement

I wrote the first draft of “Flying Lessons” when I was 17. It was inspired by my godfather’s funeral. We held it in my childhood backyard - I wore pajamas. We buried his ashes into a patch of bamboo. Everyone was teary eyed - except Julia. She skipped around the yard, shouting in a sing-songy voice, “Dad’s dead! Dad’s dead!” And I laughed. Even though I wasn’t supposed to.
Grief is a strange thing.

I remember our first day of shooting. The crew was setting up like normal - no idea what to expect. Then Julia burst through the door and shouted “F*** you Sarah, I’m not doing your stupid movie, go die!” Everyone froze. And I laughed. Even though I wasn’t supposed to.
Because it didn’t matter if we finished the movie. It didn’t matter if it was good. It only mattered that we were together. That together, we could be ourselves.

On the sixth month anniversary of my girlfriend’s death, we filmed a scene where Julia and Shay ran screaming through the yard, tearing at the grass. We gave chase with the camera, three of us awkwardly struggling to carry it in a full sprint, laughing and screaming hysterically until we collapsed with exhaustion.

This is grief. This is what mattered. That we created a beautiful little universe where we could be viscerally honest and curse at the sky, a part of us giggling the whole time.

Flying Lessons started as a passion project - a self made summer camp with my godsister. In mourning, it morphed into a lifeline. In editing, a gentle tool to help me (finally) realize that I too am autistic. Now, a new way to understand death, to understand Julia, to understand myself.

I look forward to sharing it with you.