When one of your children has autism, and your other child has Type 1 diabetes, it would be easy to throw yourself a pity party.
But for the DiMarco family, instead of whining, they’ve put a positive spin on their challenges.
“There is an attitude in my house that you don’t complain about the lot that life has given you,” mom Jennifer DiMarco said.
Upon the encouragement of her daughter, Jennifer has created a television web-series called “Ghost Sniffers.” In the television-like show, real-life daughter Faith plays Faith Forge, a nine-year-old ghost hunter whose Type 1 diabetes has given her the special ability to sniff out ghosts. Twelve-year-old brother Maxwell plays Faith’s assistant, Maxo.
The Maxo character also has autism, and much like real-life, is able to put his special talent of having a photographic memory to work helping Faith solve the mysteries.
Jennifer said the idea is much like when a person loses a sense, other senses become stronger to compensate for the missing one. She has applied the same theory to disabilities —perhaps a disability gives people super abilities in other areas.
The idea of “Ghost Sniffers” emerged from Faith’s love of ghost-hunting shows.
“One of the things she loves about them is that I find them ridiculous to watch. I laugh, giggle and try to scare her,” Jennifer said.
It was during one of those episodes when Faith came up with the idea for her mother to write the show. Jennifer, who wrote and published books in her teens, accepted the challenge.
“My normal comeback when the kids ask me to write is to say, ‘I’m a mommy now, not a writer anymore. I need to focus on you,’ ” Jennifer said. “But this time I decided to not go that route and ‘Ghost Sniffers’ is what came out of it. It was a serendipitous event.”
The genre of the show is what Jennifer calls “dramady” and is full of witty pop-culture references, all the while helping clients solve their ghostly problems.
Episodes 1 and 2 are completed, and Jennifer has scripts for 12 more. Wanting to expand the cast, open auditions will be held Jan. 24 from 1-7 p.m. at the Port Orchard Library. The show is looking to fill 29 roles, some singing, some dancing and, of course, acting.
Shot in a television-like style, episodes of “Ghost Sniffers” have a quick turnaround time. Scenes are shot one week and then edited the next. Those selected in the open auditions will be included in February’s screening at local movie theaters, where episodes 1-5 will be shown on the big screen. Jennifer hopes to have cast members present to allow for a question-and-answer session.
As cast expands, “Ghost Sniffers” will introduce other individuals who are dealing with issues and the resulting powers they have, although Jennifer is quick to point out that it isn’t a “Mutant Kids” show.
“The underlying idea is that there is something more to the characters than meets the eye,” she said.
When Jennifer told Faith her character in the show would also have Type 1 diabetes, Faith wasn’t thrilled with the idea. At the time of her diagnosis at 13 months old, Faith was the second-youngest child to be diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in the state. It’s all she’s ever known.
Jennifer told her she couldn’t hide the fact that she has an insulin pump attached to her body. But unlike real-life, her character isn’t shy about the insulin pump, and Jennifer hopes it empowers Faith to not be shy as well. Throughout the series, the character stops to check her blood sugar, just like in real life.
Maxwell has embraced his role as Faith’s sidekick. And while the filming process can at times be tedious, it’s an activity he enjoys. When asked if becoming an actor is in his future, Maxwell quipped, “I already am.”
The show has become a family affair, as the DiMarcos have enlisted help from grandparents, aunts and uncles to fill roles, design costumes and lend moral support.
The idea for the series took root in October and the DiMarcos have enjoyed integrating the show into their lives. Because of Maxwell’s severe peanut allergy and the daily care Faith needs to manage her diabetes, both children are home-schooled. The series has become part of their routine, with Jennifer writing into the early morning hours, and filming taking place during the afternoon.
“What I like about ‘Ghost Sniffers’ is being able to empower my kids the way I hope their characters are empowering other kids,” Jennifer said. “It has given me a tool to talk about stuff that my kids have no control over.”
Open-call auditions will be held on Jan. 24, 1-7 p.m. at the Kitsap Regional Library, 87 Sidney Ave., Port Orchard. For more details and to see a complete list of available roles, visit www.ghostsniffers.com.