It is a dream of mine to make a Western one day.
I used to love watching them on TV as a kid, even without subtitles because the way they were filmed and the simplistic story lines that they had were often easy to follow.
I’m naturally also interested in deaf history; I find it inspiring to know what people did before us and to read of their interesting lives.
I’m a fan of Peter Jackson who has a series of books on deaf murders, murderers and general bad stuff! In one of his books (Deaf Renegades, Outlaws, Cop Killers and other murders) he tells the story of an outlaw called Deaf Charley Hanks (aka Dumb Charley). I was naturally fascinated about him and he has been in the back of my head ever since I first read about him.
I recently bought a new microphone (a small clip-on mic) and wanted to do a test for it so that I would be ready to use it for a job I have coming up.
I also wanted to do something with my daughter Julia because it was a Sunday and she was bored. I thought about her reading one of her books and then I thought about the story of Deaf Charley.
I quickly bashed together a 2 page script and recorded my daughter reading it out to the camera. She sounded great and I’m very pleased with the results of the microphone (everyone says it sounds very clear!).
I searched the internet for public domain footage of old western films & TV shows and the video you see is the end result. I had a lot of fun putting it together and Julia likes the sound FX (guns and explosions!)
I think the story of Deaf Charley is sad, he went through a very difficult childhood and being deaf (or hard of hearing) in those days would have been an extra burden.
However he became an unpleasant person and there is nothing romantic about raping women. Even though it was perhaps part of the culture back then in the wild west, I still wish he didn’t do that and stuck to robbing trains and banks.
Obviously I couldn’t allow my 7 year-old daughter to read that part about his character and tiptoed around it.
Deaf Charley, unfortunately, is not the good bad guy we all love in the movies but there is an interesting story there about a boy who falls into danger, takes the wrong turn and seems to get worse as he bulldozes through his short life.
I have a feeling he went looking for his death, it was so reckless and unnecessary. Some may disagree but at that time the wild west days were coming to an end and a new world of machines was fast approaching.
His time was fading and maybe he felt there was nothing left for him in this world?
Who knows… you can read, in more detail, about Deaf Charley in Peter Jackson’s book and I’d encourage readers of the Limping Chicken to look into deaf history generally as they may be surprised by what they find.
In the mean time if anyone out there feels like funding an epic film on Deaf Charley or any western for that matter… drop me an email.
By Ted Evans
Ted is a multi-international award winning film maker. You can find out more about his work on his website here
The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
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