Best of Deaffest: Stiletto (directed by William Mager)

Posted on May 24, 2012

During the week running up to Deaffest 2012, the UK’s Deaf film and TV festival which takes place this weekend in Wolverhampton, we’re showing you some of the festival’s greatest hits from previous years, which can be seen online.

Don’t forget that during the festival, which kicks off on Friday night, The Limping Chicken will be posting a Deaffest first – a live, film-by-film blog as the festival takes place. So if you can’t make it to Wolverhampton, watch this space on Friday and Saturday!

Our next film is Stiletto, which won the best film award in 2009. We asked William Mager, the director, to tell us all about how the film got made and how he felt about it when it was completed…

So, this is Stiletto. It was my first proper short film, funded by Film London, with a huge group of very talented people involved.

The aim was to make a Hitchcockian homage as I live in Leytonstone, Hitch’s birthplace, and it was funded by Film London’s Hitchcock Production fund. Working with a very connected producer, I was able to gather an amazing cast including Beth Winslet (yes, Kate’s sister); Tom Harper and Montserrat Lombard (Ashes to Ashes, Saxondale).

The process of filming was hard. I didn’t use an interpreter. Instead I used an incredible 1st AD (Patrick Cadell, previously of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Passage to India and Superman) who communicated everything to the rest of the crew and actors. This worked brilliantly. Even with a great 1st AD we had three days of filming in a location that was only available from 6am to 6pm each day, it was still a gruelling experience.

I was so proud of it when it was finished. Erik Alexander Wilson (who now lenses feature films like Submarine and Tyrannosaur) was the DoP, and he shot on Zeiss prime lenses. The composer used a live orchestra to record the score. A professional animator worked for months to create a Saul Bass-esque title sequence.

It was also a mainstream short film with no deaf cast, no deaf themes, no deaf anything. I wanted to make something completely mainstream. When Stiletto won best short film at Deaffest, I was so proud.

You can see the whole film, with subtitles, below.

You can find out more about the film at

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Posted in: best of deaffest