THE REASON I JUMP: Film Composer Nainita Desai’s Score Helped Translate Book on Autism To Beautiful, Inspirational Film

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Interview by Paul Salfen

An immersive cinematic experience of nonspeaking autistic people across the world, The Reason I Jump is based on a book written by Naoki Higashida when he was just 13. The film follows a young Japanese boy on a journey through an epic landscape. As a maelstrom of thoughts, feelings, impulses, and memories affects his every action, he gradually discovers what his autism means to him, how his perception of the world differs from others’, and why he acts the way he does—the reason he jumps.

In order to create a cinematic immersive aural experience, Nainita knew the music and sound design had to interweave and work hand in hand, illustrating and amplifying what it actually feels like to be autistic. She utilized treated vocals to represent the non-verbal world of the characters. The sung Japanese vocals in the film are moments from the book, but sung in an abstract fractured way to mirror the external perceptions of autism. Nainita wrote a great deal of material based upon the main ideas from the book before she saw the film, which was a very liberating process for her.

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