A teacher and students accomplish the impossible.
A third grade teacher catches a cold from her students. In a matter of weeks, it gets out of control and she loses both arms and legs. Against school orders, the students go rogue and do a fundraiser for their teacher. Without warning, Mrs M is terminated for disability, but turns her life around to create a world-first. They all do the impossible because they don’t know they can’t. Please support the story of a woman determined to regain her independence, figure out her “new normal” and teach again.
DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT: the story behind the story
“Where do you get your stories?” They’re from unexpected places – like this one, from an 8-year-old girl, distressed about her teacher. Her story intrigued and horrified me. A common cold took a deadly downturn. That could be any of us, catching a cold at work. Could we be disabled, denied medical coverage, lose our job while recovering? Gripped by the importance of this story, it unfolds in front of my lens for the next 8 years. A woman, whose passion for a continued purpose, inspires child leaders and blazes cutting-edge contributions to the medical world. This untold story tests what’s possible and what’s next.
Ordinary people, standing up to extraordinary circumstances, become movies in my head. This one became DRIVING MRS M.
Connie Bottinelli, Director, Grinning Dog Pictures
“There is power in understanding the journey of others, to help create your own.”
Kobie Bryant: Academy Award & Emmy winner, five times NBA champion for LA Lakers.
A LOOK BEHIND THE SCENES: shooting, editing, assembling scenes together
WHY SHOULD I SUPPORT THIS FILM?
Have you ever seen a movie, and it stays with you the next day? Taking this journey with Mrs M, a teacher galvanized to hold on to the purpose in her life, lifted by the loyalty of students who love her, will stay with you for a lifetime.
Here’s your opportunity to be an essential part of bringing this story to the screen! Help close our $40,000 funding gap with your contribution. We have 3 generous grants so far, continue to write for more, and received $15,000 from private supporters like you. We’re ready to put 8 years of footage together and edit the first version of DRIVING MRS M. Your tax-deductible gift will be used for: the editor, assistant editor/director, hard drives, and editing suite.
Mrs M’s story has significant emotional power that addresses human rights. Her story defines that someone living with a disability doesn’t mean their life is less relevant or less vital than any other.
Your tax-deductible gift in any amount is significant to us – and so is sharing with your friends and family! Please share from the social media icons on this page. You’ll get updates & exclusive behind the scenes moments!
We’re excited to welcome you to the DRIVING MRS M team. Together, we’ll have an impact!
Contributions beyond our goal will begin the original music composition.
AWARDED GRANTS TO DATE
New York Women in Film & Television
The Loreen Arbus Disability Awareness Grant
Woman of Her Word, Michele Spitz – Audio Description of film
City of Fort Myers Arts and Culture Grant
Connie Bottinelli: director/producer/writer/cinematographer/editor
Connie is an international and multiple Emmy award winner in documentary film. Her career began in 1986 at CBS Entertainment in NYC. She’s co-founder of Grinning Dog Pictures, a film and TV production company for independent films, broadcast and cable networks. The company launched in 1995, breaking rating records for Lifetime TV with their one-hour special, Jessica Savitch: An Intimate Portrait. Their programs broke records for Ch4 in the UK and drew 4 times the viewers on Discovery Europe.
DRIVING MRS M is the latest in a slate of Connie’s independent films. She’s a member of International Documentary Association, Independent Filmmaker Project, NY Women in Film & Television and a featured interview in Ned Eckhardt’s “Documentary Filmmaker’s Handbook”.
Ann Tegnell: editor
Ann is an Academy Award and Emmy nominated producer-director and editor. Her most recent project, Hollywood Beauty Salon, is in national distribution, while The Barefoot Artist streams on Netflix following an international rollout. Ann was chosen to take the ITVS-funded film Niños de la Memoria / Children of Memory to the Sundance Documentary Edit and Story Lab. She cut Independent Lens selection Mirror Dance, Emmy nominated KNEE DEEP, CINE Golden Eagle winner Ballycastle, and Academy Award nominated Family Gathering, broadcast on The American Experience. Ann’s work has all been broadcast nationally on PBS, and included at The Chicago Independent Film Festival, the San Francisco, Philadelphia International Film Festivals, the Havana Film Festival, Margaret Mead Film and Video Festival, and at MOMA, the Whitney, and Smithsonian.
Helene Gallagher LeVine: associate producer, outreach/social media coordinator
Helene is a champion of human rights, working thirty years for the protection of families and children at a state level. She has been committed to providing services to adults and children with disabilities in her career and her volunteerism, which has given her an awareness to issues addressed in the film. Through her experience in the world of non-profits, she’s involved in our fundraising and development of strategic partners. Helene also has extensive expertise in producing engaging social media content to increase the on-line following for the film.
John Keltonic: composer of original score
Composing original music for television and films for over 20 years, John’s credits include NBC, PBS, Discovery Channel BBC, TLC, CNN and others. Projects he’s composed music for have won numerous awards, including national Emmys and an Academy Award nomination. John has worked with or had works performed by the London Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, Richmond Symphony, the Victoria Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Wichita Symphony, The Hartford Symphony, the Carmel Symphony and others.
STORY – INSPIRE – IMPACT
Stories put a fire under us to make a difference. I’ve seen it in some of my own documentary films such as…
- Women of Hope on CBS: A young nun, who coaxes homeless women off the street in the dead of night, is recognized as a beacon of hope. Her program receives nationwide Congressional support. She inspires Jon Bon Jovi to volunteer building safe affordable housing for former homeless in her city.
- Philabundance on NBC: A woman uses her station wagon to take fresh leftover food from banquet halls and hotels, then delivers it to shelters. From that modest beginning grew the largest hunger relief organization in PA, NJ, DE and MD.
- Wolfman the Myth & Science on Discovery: A young Mexican geneticist helps to crack the human genome when participants in my film agree to give their unique blood to identify a missing marker in our human DNA.
Your tax deductible gift, and sharing with friends, makes you a part of being that difference for DRIVING MRS M the movie.
•$25.00 – Acknowledgement on social media
•$50.00 – Two tickets to the premiere of the film in Baltimore MD and acknowledgment on social media
•$100.00 – Admission for two to the after party to meet the director and people from the film; and all of the above
•$250.00 – Behind the scenes updates on the film; and all of the above
•$500.00 – Your name listed under “Friends of the Film” in the credits for the movie; and all of the above
•$1000.00 – Lunch with the Director and the Mrs M; and all of the above
•$2500.00 – “Patron of the Film” credit at the end of the movie; and all of the above
•$5000.00 – “Champion of the Film” credit at the end of the film; and all of the above
BEFORE YOU GO…
There’s something important in this for you. At 64 years old, Mrs M never dreamed this would be her life experience. Your gift is more than support for an engaging film. It’s a contribution to create a profound understanding between two worlds; opening minds to not disregard someone’s worth, abilities, contributions, because they live with a disability.
SEE COMMENTS FROM CONTRIBUTORS:
“Engaging story told by a passionate director.” Helene L.
“I want to support a great teacher who continues to inspire her students.” Eileen F.
“My home economic teacher! Thank you I am still sewing all these years later!” Joanne C
“Come take a walk with me …….” Bev and Trudy B
“Amazing Story to be told!” Anonymous
“For strength and perseverence that can only be taught in life-lessons, not in a classroom. Thank you Mrs. M!” Alice B
“What an amazing and hopeful story. You are amazing!” Christian L
“Thank you for your fight for equality & human rights. The future of our community, teachers, & children depends on this!” Allen C
“Great cause!” Tom G
“Anne is a great fellow teacher and friend.” MaryAnne R
“I support Connie Bottinelli’s dream! She was the first to inspire me to appreciate art. This is more than art. It’s healing from the heart.” Barbara C
“You and your 3rd grade class are an inspiration to us all! This important story must be told. Love you, Anne!” Eileen T
“I was there when this happened, and I supported Anne in every way along her journey…she is an amazing woman, and a wonderful friend!” Susan L
“Amazing Story to be told!” Chris L
“A great inspiring story” Fred D
“Mrs. Mekalian was my favorite teacher in high school! She always had a smile on her face.” Anne L
“A worthy cause for a lovely lady!” Betty M
“Connie – You’re doing a fantastic job! Just can’t wait to see the finished movie about my wonderful third graders and me.” Anne M
“An amazing teacher + awesome school children = a story that needs to be told. Anne and her “kids” rock!” Ray and Jackie S
“In memory of Clint Oden, Jr.” Jan O
“I admire people, especially children with the morality and fire, who fight for justice. And I stand in awe of Mrs M for her strength and determination.” Andrea K
“Amazing story – it takes a village!” Brian C
“Great work, Connie!” Dave D
“a story of great humanity…” Fred D
“In honor of my great home economics teacher ❤️” Nancy G
“Anne, you have been such an inspiration to so many. We love you and are proud of your journey. Love, Adrienne and Fred Porcell and the Emery children”
“I hope this film sees the light of day.” Jeanne F
“You rock!” Bill R
“An important story…” Fred D
“You inspired me 48 years ago and inspire me today. How can I not give when you have given so much.” Kathy G-N
PLEASE JOIN OUR TEAM WITH A TAX-DEDUCTIBLE GIFT. TAKE THIS FILM OVER THE FINISH LINE!
SHARING THE STORY OF DRIVING MRS M WITH YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY IS ALSO A GIFT! THANK YOU!