Sunday, May 11, 2008


Above Vincenzo Giammanco is a former Chartwell School student who has produced the award-winning film "bAd," which will be screened this weekend in Monterey. Giammanco wrote and directed the movie, and financed the project with a $25,000 loan. (VERN FISHER/The Herald)

Was he stupid, or was he just lazy? That seemed to be the riddle teachers kept trying to solve about Vincenzo Giammanco, using every weapon in their arsenal: They scolded him, they challenged him, they ridiculed and humiliated him. They drew "frownie faces" on his schoolwork to take home to his parents, Vince and Annie Giammanco of Salinas.

It wasn't long, he says, before he was exiled to the portable classrooms — away from all the "normal" kids — to take special-education classes alongside children with special needs, some of whom were profoundly mentally retarded.

Giammanco was there because he was struggling with dyslexia, a disorder that afflicts one out of every seven people, many of whom — there are more than 30 million in the United States — don't even know they have the problem.

"It's a learning disability, and it's a hidden disability. You're not going to look at me and say, 'Oh, that guy's dyslexic,'" he says. "But it affects reading, it affects writing, it affects spelling. Sometimes it took me two hours to do the same simple homework assignment that another kid could do in 15 minutes. I had to sound out every letter. I had to decipher every word."

A teacher at Monterey High declared that Giammanco would "never amount to anything," but he was wrong. At just 23, he already appears to have a glowing future as a filmmaker, a career that has been galvanized by a 30-minute short feature, "bAd," which dramatizes the trials and emotions of a dyslexic child. Giammanco wrote and directed the movie, and financed the project with a $25,000 loan.

The Southern California premiere of "bAd" packed a 500-seat theater in Ventura, which stunned Giammanco, who wondered in advance if anybody would show up.

Then the movie won Best Short Film and Best Actor (18-year-old Remy Thorne), and was nominated for Best Picture at the Young Artist Awards, where it competed against productions from Warner Bros., Columbia, Searchlight and other Hollywood giants. It was featured at the L.A. Shorts Festival. And Giammanco has already signed with a film distributor, Starlight Entertainment.

Local premiere

The local premiere — free to the public — is scheduled at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Steinbeck Forum of the Monterey Conference Center. A panel of dyslexia experts will discuss the topic afterward.

The lead character in "bAd," played by Thorne who looks 12, is confused and overwhelmed by his struggle with dyslexia. He feels very much alone with his problems — hardly unusual for a dyslexic, Giammanco says — which casts a profound depression over his life. Many of the protagonist's difficulties are based on Giammanco's childhood.

"I was an extremely creative child, but when school came along I just started falling behind," he says. "My self-esteem began to suffer and I began to hate going there. I'd fake being sick or make any other excuse to get to stay home."

Among his worst days were those when a teacher would make the students read aloud. Giammanco remembers counting the number of students in his row, then counting down to the paragraph he would be asked to read. With tension mounting, he would silently rehearse to avoid embarrassing himself.

Tension mounts

"I'd break out in a sweat, becoming more and more nervous as they moved down my aisle," he says. "I'd look for any excuse to get out of the room. I had to go to the bathroom, I felt sick, whatever."

A scene in "bAd" dramatizes the pressure Thorne's character feels during a read-aloud session, then shows him surreptitiously heating a thermometer with hot tap water in the nurse's office so he would be sent home with a fever. That came straight from Giammanco's childhood, he says.

In Giammanco's case, a two and a half year stint — from second to fourth grade — at Seaside's Chartwell School, which specializes in dyslexia, helped him understand and deal with his disability. He returned to public school in Monterey as a fifth-grader much better equipped, but that was merely the beginning of his journey toward feeling normal.

For one thing, he says, he was concerned that classmates might be laughing at him for mixing special-ed classes with his regular classes, a schedule he continued through high school.

"I never, ever told anybody I was dyslexic, and I didn't want anybody to find out," he says. "I had to go to the (portable classrooms) every day during fourth period at Monterey High, but I'd always wait till the bell had rung and everybody else had gone to class before I walked over there. I didn't want anybody to see me."

Compounding the frustration through most of his schooling was that too many teachers, mainstream and special-ed alike, didn't understand dyslexia and were ill-equipped to help him. Many reacted by belittling him, calling him a slacker, flunking him.

Class at Monterey High

For Giammanco, a turning point came when he enrolled in a filmmaking class during his junior year at Monterey High and discovered he had a talent that could evolve into an exciting career.

"Sometime during my junior year I began to think that maybe dyslexia wasn't the disadvantage I thought it was — maybe it was a gift," he says. "A dyslexic person is forced all his life to think outside the box to (find) ways to do some of the things a normal person does easily. I feel like that often creates a level of creativity, as well as a work ethic, that other people don't have, and those things help when you get out of school and into the real world."

Giammanco produces country music videos, and he expects to expand to feature films soon. He is writing two screenplays.

"If you had told me when I was in the seventh grade that I was going to be a writer someday, I would have said you were crazy," he says. "Thank God for spell check, because I still can't spell."

Hoping to educate

Meanwhile, he is hoping "bAd" proves enlightening to people who know little about dyslexia, including those who might be afflicted without knowing it. He feels thankful that his own parents took the initiative to help him discover and work through his problems, but worries about children who might not be as fortunate.

"I saw a teacher down in Ventura, about 60 years old, who was asked how many dyslexic students she had encountered during her career. She said she'd never met one," Giammanco says. "Well, if one in seven people are dyslexic, she probably encountered quite a few. And she probably saw those students as kids who weren't working hard enough, or kids who just didn't get it. I can't help but wonder where some of those kids are today."

Dyslexia facts
  • 12 to 15 percent of the U.S. population is dyslexic
  • Approximately 30 million dyslexics are undiagnosed
  • Dyslexia is the most common cause of reading, writing and spelling difficulties. Forty percent of dyslexics read below the fourth-grade level ·
  • Famous dyslexics include actor Tom Cruise, musician John Lennon, photographer Ansel Adams, artist Leonardo da Vinci, boxer Muhammad Ali, billionaire adventurer Richard Branson, filmmaker Walt Disney and inventor Thomas Edison
Source: Monterey Herald


Ghotit said...

My name is Ofer Chermesh and I establish a company named Ghotit ( that develops different internet services that helps dyslexics (5-17% of the population) to perform better in their day to day activities.

For many reasons regular spellchecker don't work effectively with people how suffers from dyslexia Ghotit first solution is an online context sensitive spell checker that is capable to cope with severe spelling mistakes and misused word for example Ghotit will offer a user that spells "I will be happy to meat you at 8 o'clock" to change the word meat to meet.

Ghotit received a good review at:

From Reaching All Readers Conference Ghotit received the title "BEST Online Spelling Tool EVER"

From Teaching Every Student Ghotit received the title "the BEST spell checker for students with ADD"

In addition please find below inputs we received from various dyslectics.

I will be happy if you will be willing to try Ghotit.

Hope to hear from you soon (



• My god I have been look for this for all-my life, help that understands me. I write with a dictionary and thesaurus and some times cant even find the word looking for. I could not hold back the tears from the emotion then when I worked out how helpful this spellchecker will be for me.

• i really like it and i'm so glad i found it!! it will really help with my homework etc and my teachers wont get angry at me annymore!!

• Thank you for contacting us with your product. I tinkered with the spell checker for sometime this morning, entering common mistakes that our dyslexic students (and ADD) students make in spelling. I must say that I am extremely impressed with your product and would certainly like to further evaluate it with our students over the next several weeks.

• that spell checker is SO good, its actually waaay better than microsoft because it tells you the reasen why you are usuing the correct word. i really like it, its really good!!

Ginger said...

Ginger Software has developed groundbreaking text-correction technology that is unparalleled in the industry. Ginger Software is the only automatic text correction software available today.

With Ginger in the mix, you get:

• Automatic correction of entire sentences
Ginger automatically replaces incorrect words with accurate alternatives. Other spell checkers require users to review each individual error and manually select an alternative.

• Correction of unusual spelling mistakes
With a single click, Ginger automatically corrects unusual spelling mistakes at a level unmatched by other spell checkers. For example: “phisik is my faverd sudgekt” is automatically changed to “physics is my favorite subject“.

• Correction of misused words
Ginger identifies and automatically corrects misused words that other spell checkers do not pick up. For example, “Which which is which” is automatically corrected to “Which witch is which”.

• Accurate results that make your point
Ginger's unique technology corrects words by analyzing their context. Other spell checkers perform limited, if any, contextual analysis. Ginger makes accurate word replacements by taking your intention into account.

• Successful Beta trials
Ginger is used by schools, universities and dyslexia organizations in the US and the UK.

Ginger Software’s beta version is available for download FREE OF CHARGE at:

The Ginger Team

Anonymous said...

ghotit is much better

Anonymous said...

Who knows where to download XRumer 5.0 Palladium?
Help, please. All recommend this program to effectively advertise on the Internet, this is the best program!