OKRE Funds: Astronaut

Astronaut is a film that centres around the lived experience of Robyn, a queer woman with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). It breaks down misconceptions around disability and carers.

About The Film:

Robyn is looking to fall in love in time for Christmas, so that she can escape the annual family festivities. Believing she's met the perfect partner and just as she starts to feel grounded, her world is turned upside-down as she discovers that the laws of gravity no longer apply to her.

Astronaut was developed as part of a collaboration between writer Katie Boyles; Producer Chi Thai, and Toby Mildon and Cathy McNicol, executive producers whose own lived experience with SMA informs much of the characters’ stories.

Astronaut seeks to empower, encourage, and enable the disabled community to tell their stories and it hopes to contribute to breaking down societies misconceptions around disability and carers.

Over the past year, the team has undertaken research and run workshops supported the OKRE Fund, collaborating with Professor Paul Crawford, Director of the Centre for Social Futures at the Institute of Mental Health and a leading figure in new global field of health humanities.

New Ways of Working


Producer Chi Thai had this to say:
“On Astronaut, we are experimenting with a new and exciting way of developing screen narratives including co-creating with a community and being driven by academic-led research.
  • Astronaut used workshops to bring together people with disabilities and carers to discuss their experiences.
  • We included our academic researcher during the workshops to record observations manually.
  • Post-workshops, the academic researcher put together what we have termed a ‘research-bible’ which our screenwriter will use to inform characters, their development, the narratives and more.”

Speaking about the project, executive producer Toby Mildon had this to say:

“We simply don’t see disabled people in mainstream culture — we need deeper representation. Astronaut does this and then some. The writing doesn’t shy away from topics that people might feel awkward about, like sexuality, relationships, like growing up and finding your way in the world. Which everyone has to do whether you’re disabled or not.”

This project drew the attention of the OKRE Funding body because:

  • Astronaut team were looking to collaborate with those with lived experience alongside academic researchers.
  • It was led by executive producers with lived experience of SMA – disabled community telling their own story.
  • It was dynamically pitched: fresh, loud, bold, funny style of the pitch.

Astronaut is currently in development.

Project Summary:

Title: Astronaut
Content: Film
Stage for Funding: At development stage
Writer: Katie Boyles
Producer: Chi Thai
Executive Producers: Toby Midol, Cathy McNicol
Research Expert: Dr Paul Crawford, Director the Centre for Social Futures at the Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham

Interested in applying for OKRE Funding?

The OKRE Fund supports the development of fresh entertainment that could potentially shift perceptions around mental health, climate change, health, migration and poverty.

An OKRE Funded project must involve creative collaboration. Strong projects will involve creative working with someone from another sector or community i.e. between researchers, people with lived experience of an issue and entertainment professionals.

Apply For The OKRE Fund