Diary of a Deaf Filmmaker, Month 7: Why aren’t more Deaf filmmakers working in the mainstream?

Posted on January 14, 2015

As I sit here, writing this mildly entertaining drivel, we are literally DAYS away from the all important shoot!


We decided to cancel any New Years celebrations, as we simply didn’t have the time for them. It’s not happening as far as I’m concerned.


Don’t get me wrong. I love a good “shindig”, but we’re just too damn busy setting up the studio!


Whilst setting up, my DOP asked me a pretty valid question…


And my response….


I think it goes without saying that there are plenty of talented Deaf film-makers out there. We’ve got writers, directors, producers, DOP’s etc but we all seem to work within the same circles.

Now, I am extremely grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been given by funding schemes tailored for Deaf people and I love working with the same great people when I get the chance, but why aren’t Deaf film-makers branching out into mainstream film/TV?


Are we limited by the type of content we’re expected to create? A lot of the schemes that I mentioned above sometimes have restrictions regarding things like the amount of BSL content or prominent “Deaf” themes etc.

While I believe there is a great calling for these films and programmes, I also know a lot of Deaf film-makers who would like to make films/programmes that have nothing to do with Deafness. They would like to have more creative freedom to show the world that we are more than “just Deaf”.


Or maybe it has something more to do with how our films/programmes are being viewed by the mainstream.

Are we not communicating our Deaf themes in a way that others can understand? Would the mainstream be more open to Deaf cinema if they could relate to it better?

Subjects that may seem clichéd to someone with a strong Deaf background are usually quite alien to mainstream viewers.


Or maybe, we’re just not trying hard enough. Perhaps we’re too comfortable in our own Deaf film-making world.

I’m probably quite guilty of this myself to be honest, as I haven’t really applied to any mainstream funding schemes and I find it easier to create Deaf-themed scripts.

So perhaps, with the New Year upon us (still no celebrating please), it would be a good opportunity to take a step further into mainstream film/TV. In fact, that is my New Years resolution!


Happy New Year folks!

Teresa Garratty is a freelance film maker, photographer and full time cynic. At school, she was voted “Most likely to end up in a lunatic asylum”, a fate which has thus far been avoided. Her pet hates are telephones, intercoms and all living things.

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