ANOTHER FIRST STEP begins with my journey to discover why I was asked to take
care of my 47-year-old deaf, mute and autistic Uncle. After uncovering an old Irish
tradition that explains why, I re-introduce myself to a man with whom I have  never
spoken. By combining cinema verite footage, old photographs, home movies and
interviews,I trace three generations of my family struggling to find the best care, home
and education for our mentally and physically disabled son.

I traveled to the Southwest of Ireland, to my Grandpa's home town, in search of
understanding this long-standing Irish tradition. From Macroom, Ireland to San
Francisco, California and eventually to Los Angeles, follow me as I unravel the
intricacies of the mental health system in California and get to know my uncle again.
From the battles between the state mental hospitals and the independent living
homes, to the abuse of clients and, finally, to the development of revolutionary new
programs, experience the ups and downs along with myself, my uncle and my

ANOTHER FIRST STEP is not an expose of the mental health system, nor is it just the
story of one man's triumph over adversity, but a family's constant search for the best
way to provide for a mentally disabled man. It provides no detailed solutions, but
offers' insights into how one family has failed, succeeded and is still trying to find a life
for a deaf, mute and autistic man.

  • CINE Golden Eagle
  • Bronze Plaque: 42nd Columbus Film Awards
  • Student ACADEMY AWARDS: National Finalist
  • Dore Schary Awards: Best Film
  • Joseph Drown Award for documentary film-
  • Edie and Lew Wasserman Film Award for
  • Motion Picture Association of America Award
Released: Jan 1994

Michael T. Whalen - Writer/Producer/Director
Ann Kaneko - Director of Photography
John Ottman - Music
Imagine what it would be like to have only one son and
never be able to speak to him.

Or to spend 22 years growing up with your Uncle and
him never speaking to you until one day, out of the
blue, he asks "how are you?"

And then your Grandpa asks you to care for your
47-year-old, deaf, mute and autistic Uncle because he
can no longer do so.

All of this because the three of you share the same
Michael Riordon IV at Sonoma
State Hospital
Michael Riordon III & IV