Diary of a Deaf Filmmaker, Month 10: Will the audience see my film as a Deaf film or not?

Posted on March 30, 2015

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teresa garratty

It’s not long until my film The Quiet Ones premières at this years Deaffest, so I’m beginning to wonder, “Who is going to like this film?”

Will Deaf people like it? Will hearing people like it? Will ANYONE like it?!

I don’t think there’s any way to predict how the film will be received by its first audience. I’m not even sure if it fits into the “Deaf film” category any more!

Sure, it has Deaf characters and some signing in it but we weren’t too strict with our BSL content as we wanted the characters to appear true to life and have their own unique communication traits, as all people do.

But does that mean a Deaf audience will disregard the film as inaccurate?

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We’ve also chosen a lot of cinematic shot sizes and that means not all the signing stays within the frame or we’ll cut to someone’s reaction before a line has finished being delivered. Does this mean we’ve tailored the film more toward a hearing audience?

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So while some might argue that the film isn’t targeted at a Deaf audience, others may feel differently. At least half the cast are Deaf and either sign, lip read, wear hearing aids etc, and to a hearing audience this is going to stand out as a strong theme.

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Also, the subject matter of the film revolves around the police interviews of four Deaf students, from a Deaf school, so once again, ‘Deafness’ as a theme is prominent.

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Then again, this is not a film about being Deaf. In a way, the story could easily be transferred to a script with hearing characters…but where’s the fun in that?!

I wanted the to add Deaf characters as they make the story more interesting and it’s important to have a variation of Deaf characters on screen. So, does that mean it is, or it isn’t a Deaf film?

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One thing is certain though, Deaf people have had a strong involvement in making the film. But is that enough to class something in the “Deaf Film” category?

Can Deaf film-makers make mainstream films and still have them classed as Deaf films? And if so, does that mean a film featuring Deaf topics made by a hearing person still counts as a “Deaf Film”?

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It can all get very complex when you try to think in those terms but here’s the way I see it. I didn’t make this film through a Deaf lens but I didn’t make it through a hearing one either.

I simply made this film through a lens and my target audience are film lovers. If you enjoy watching films and appreciate how they’re made, then The Quiet Ones is for you.

You might like it, you might hate it but we made the film with the hope that at least a few people will watch it and think…

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