Documentary by alum with dwarfism goes viral

Connect Sept 2014--NovickA day-in-the-life documentary created by a recent SUNY New Paltz graduate with dwarfism has garnered millions of views and national headlines since it was posted to YouTube on Aug. 7.

Jonathan Novick ’13 (Communication/Media), of Queens, N.Y., lives with a condition called achondroplasia, or the most common form of dwarfism. He moved to New York City about a year ago, a move he admits was “made a lot more difficult because of my dwarfism,” due to the points, stares, comments, and harassment he says he receives from fellow residents on a daily basis.

“I wanted to show them what my daily life is like,” Novick says in the video.

Novick collaborated on the documentary with fellow SUNY New Paltz alum Levi Verges ’12, who helped shoot the film as well as conduct the on-camera interviews with Novick.

Novick, in a desire to “start showing people what happens to me” rather than just keep telling them, disguised a hidden camera as a button on his shirt and took to the streets of New York City. In the just-over-six-minute-long “Don’t Look Down On Me,” people sneakily take pictures of Novick, with one man even asking Novick to take a picture with him. Passers-by yell offensive comments like “Hey, short stuff,” and Novick is approached by several people who tell him he looks just like a character from the reality show “Little People, Big World.”

“I’ll ask that the next time you see someone who is different than you, think about what their day might be like,” Novick says in the video. “Think about all of the events of their life leading up to that point. … What part of their day do you want to be?”

Novick’s story ended up on the front page of Yahoo! News on Aug. 13, and has been covered by several local, regional, and national news outlets like People magazine, USA Today,and the Huffington Post. As of late August, “Don’t Look Down On Me” had been viewed more than 2 million times on YouTube.