WINTON -- Don't tell Aaron Schindler something is impossible. That will make him even more determined to make it happen.
The 31-year-old Winton resident has muscular dystrophy and spinal muscular atrophy, which make him wheelchair-bound and severely limit his mobility. Despite these setbacks, he intends to produce a full-length animated feature film that could hit movie screens in about three years.
"The quote I live by is, 'Nothing is impossible,' " he said. "If you take the impossible and break it into little tasks, the impossible becomes possible. I'm a pretty easygoing person and let stuff roll off my shoulders and don't let anything bug me too much."
Since his high school days, Schindler has been recognized for his award- winning animation and graphics skills.
"I take one step at a time, just like everyone else does," Schindler said. "It might take longer than most people because of my disability, but it's going to happen. Hollywood can't stop me."
Schindler has been working on the movie project since December. The idea for the film, to be called "Why the Sky is Blue," came to him in a dream 11 years ago. He just finished the 77-page script a few days ago. Now the legal agreements, confidentiality clauses and many other details must be hammered out.
Schindler's mother, Becky, said her son wasn't supposed to live beyond age 3 or have any quality of life.
"He's still learning and challenging himself," Becky Schindler said. "He has never complained to me about his infirmities. He never lets anything stop him from doing what he wants to do."
Atwater Mayor Joan Faul, a retired associate principal at Atwater High School, said Schindler is a wonderful person to be around.
"It was unbelievable how positive he was. He has such a positive attitude about everything. Aaron will do it now; there's no holding him back," Faul said.
Schindler graduated from Atwater High in 1999. After taking courses at Merced College and Modesto Junior College, Schindler received a bachelor of science degree in visual effects and motion graphics in 2009 from the Art Institute of Portland.
Animation can involve things live actors cannot do: Godzilla crushing buildings, tidal waves crashing through a city or other ctatstrophic phenomena, according to Schindler.
He said he grew up watching movies with his dad and uncle and was interested in mathematics and science. He knew early that his life's work would involve art.
Schindler said he has worked with Will Vinton, creator of the animated California Raisins and M&M candies, and has collaborated on Super Bowl commercials for Doritos corn chips.
"I have a long ways to go and a lot more science and math to figure out for the movie," Schindler said.
He was one of Carol Kamerer's graphics students in the the Merced County Office of Education's Regional Occupational Program, and she recalls that he quickly grasped the subject.
"He's so bright," Kamerer said. "It takes him a while to get going, but it's going to happen."
Schindler said he's aiming for the theater and won't settle for anything else.
He said he is inspired by film director Steven Spielberg and John Lassiter, owner of Pixar Animation Studios. He said the blockbuster film "Avatar" took five years to make.
"It takes all your time," Schindler said. "You have to design the characters with their quirks and model them in 3-D with computer programs."
Victor Viera taught an ROP animation class and said Schindler was a dedicated student who didn't know the word "impossible." He said he never missed classes and made wonderful pieces.
Schindler and his mom teach a weekly arts-and-crafts class for third- and fourth-graders at St. Luke's School in Merced. They will offer a two-week program this summer for second- through sixth-grade students.
Schindler and his fiancée, Nita Rose, are producing and directing the feature film, which he said could be a first for the Central Valley. They are planning to get married next year.
"If any local companies would like to help me make Central California history, that would be awesome. It takes money to make a movie," Schindler said.
He's hoping local firms can help with connections in advertising, social media and computer technology.
Kelly Ingram of the Muscular Dystrophy Association in Fresno plans to interview Schindler this month for the group's May-June newsletter. He has participated in MDA telethons over the Labor Day weekend and said he'd love to meet MDA backer and famed comedian Jerry Lewis.
Schindler said he believes animation makes impossible things possible. That's helping him achieve things less-determined people wouldn't even try to do.
Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.