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Deaf Filmmakers:


By Hunter Clark


Deaf Filmmakers 

               In the film world, a film is only as good as it’s producer. In this day in age, making it in the film industry is close to impossible -- but, with hard work it can be done. (Contributor, Quora. 17 Apr. 2014.) Just like any filmmaker, Deaf filmmakers have their challenges and their advantages. Being Deaf does not stop them nor make the journey any easier. All it requires is hard work and passion. (“Diary of a Deaf Filmmaker, Month 6: Do Deaf Filmmakers Have an Advantage over Hearing Filmmakers?” 01 Jan 2015.)

               If films are only as good as their producers, what makes a good producer? First off, a filmmaker and a Producer is the same thing. (“The Difference Between a Director and a Filmmaker.” N.d.) A producer’s job is basically to organize a film and oversees the process it takes to make the film. Over seeing the whole process from editing, commissioning music, and even encouraging the movie’s star leads to talk about the upcoming movie on talk shows. ( Crouch, Ian. 20 Feb. 2009.) They typically need intuition, knowledge, and the foresight to see the project to the end. So it doesn’t mater if you’re Deaf or Hearing. (Contributor, Quora. 17 Apr. 2014.)  Some challenges that a Deaf producer may have are communication with those who are not able to sign. If a Deaf filmmaker were working on a Hearing movie not all of the staff would know ASL, so instead of just directly telling a staff what they need to communicate they would need an interpreter. A Deaf filmmaker may have difficulty with background music or background noise, the producer will need a trusted staff to back them up to create the right mood. (“The Disability Film Challenge.” N.d.)

               Although not all movies get an Academy Award, the amount of effort that goes into making, producing, and finishing a movie is an accomplishment in itself. Making movies can be a huge gamble. Most of the time, a film makes very little money and the producers are not living in a giant mansion. (Contributor, Quora. 17 Apr. 2014.) With the odds stacked against a producer -- Deaf or Hearing -- a career for a filmmaker is a hard one. (Contributor, Quora. 17 Apr. 2014.)    

Deaf filmmakers have been making masterpieces ever since the beginning of films. From “Interface,” by Chantal Deguire or  “The Gift,” by Alexander Genievsky Deaf filmmakers have been turning heads in the film industry. (“DeafMovies.org- A Resource for Finding Films in ASL.” N.d.) In “The Gift” a Hearing boy falls in love with a Deaf girl and the relationship becomes complicated due to a lack of understanding because the boy does not understand sign language. (IMDB.com, N.d.) Not all Deaf movies are popular with Hearing people, but that does not take away from the quality of the film.  (“DeafMovies.org- A Resource for Finding Films in ASL.” N.d.)

While a career in films is difficult for most, Deaf filmmakers have some advantages that many might overlook. Hearing filmmakers may not have the same keen visual acuity that a Deaf filmmaker has due to living in a strongly visual and kinesthetic world.  (“Diary of a Deaf Filmmaker, Month 6: Do Deaf Filmmakers Have an Advantage over Hearing Filmmakers?” 01 Jan 2015.) A Hearing filmmaker may concentrate more on the verbal sounds and emotion used by the characters, rather a Deaf filmmakers focus might be with the details and being in sync with the body language and facial expressions of the characters. (“Diary of a Deaf Filmmaker, Month 6: Do Deaf Filmmakers Have an Advantage over Hearing Filmmakers?” 01 Jan 2015.) A Deaf filmmaker may also be more visually sensitive to the environment in the scenes or the way the environment might touch or interact with the characters. (“Diary of a Deaf Filmmaker, Month 6: Do Deaf Filmmakers Have an Advantage over Hearing Filmmakers?” 01 Jan 2015.) Another contrasting situation may occur when a Hearing filmmaker drags out dialogue to try and express something where a Deaf filmmaker will know how to inherently express and communicate what they are wanting in the scene in a less dragged out,  “more to the point,” “less is more” way. (“Diary of a Deaf Filmmaker, Month 6: Do Deaf Filmmakers Have an Advantage over Hearing Filmmakers?” 01 Jan 2015.)

Some Hearing filmmakers have been successful in making Deaf movies. “Children of a Lesser God” was produced by Burt Sugerman, J.C. Spink and Chris Bender; all are Hearing producers. (IMDB.com, N.d.) Children of a Lesser God” was also directed by Mark Medoff who is Hearing. (Heffernan, Catherine. 28 Nov. 2007.) What makes this movie special is it simply shows the difference in perspectives, but different perspectives can be powerful. The main theme of the film was loving people for the way they are. (Medoff, Mark. 20 Nov.2005.)  

When we think of film, it’s not always the ones on the big screens or in the movie theaters. There are many different kinds of films to make; a documentary or a short film, a horror flick, a soap opera or an action movie and the list goes on. To go even further, a film is more of an art piece and a movie is more for entertainment.  (Difference between Movie and Film. 04 Sept. 2015.)  From “Through the Deaf Eyes” to “Seven Lanterns” all these films included the same hard work and thought as any Hollywood movie. Both of these movies are more works of art than just a movie for entertainment These films had just the same amount of work put in to them but, would be placed in a different genre like documentaries or short films. Despite the many categories of films, many Deaf producers have conquered a variety of film genres. (Deaf-Short Film. N.d.)  

               Deaf filmmakers and Deaf actors have found success in the movie industry. One of the most well known actors to both the Deaf and Hearing audience is Marlee Matlin. (Deaf People-Famous Deaf Actors & Actresses. N.d.) She is famous for her role in “Children of a Lesser God.” (Deaf People-Famous Deaf Actors & Actresses. N.d.) She quickly made a name for herself by demonstrating how to act in leading roles as a Deaf actor. (Bio.com. N.d.) The list of famous Deaf actors in the film industry continues with others such as Sean Berdy from the TV series “Switched at Birth”, and Deanne Bray from the TV show “Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye”. (Deaf People-Famous Deaf Actors & Actresses. N.d.)

Movies and film have brought people from all different backgrounds together. Whether your Deaf or Hearing, making it in the film industry is not easy and takes it hard work and passion. (Contributor, Quora. 17 Apr. 2014.) Movies and films are only as good as their filmmakers. A filmmaker needs to tap in to the advantages they have and capitalize on those. As mentioned above Deaf filmmakers may be able to create a more visually stunning movie simply due to their focus on the visual world without the distractions of sound. (Contributor, Quora. 17 Apr. 2014.) Despite the advantages or challenges Deaf filmmakers and Hearing filmmakers have a similar tough road to make it big in the Film industry. (Contributor, Quora. 17 Apr. 2014.)

 

 

REFERENCES

 

Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 01 Sept. 2016. Retrieved from http://www.biography.com

 

Contributor, Quora. “How Do You Successfully Produce a Movie?” Slate Magazine. N.p., 17 Apr. 2014. Web. 01 Sept. 2016. Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/blogs/quora/2014/04.17/film_industry_what_is_the_role_of_a_successful_movie_producer.html

 

Crouch, Ian. “What Does a Hollywood Producer Do, Exactly?” Slate Magazine. N.p., 20 Feb. 2009. Web. 05 Sept. 2016. Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/articles/newsandpolitics/explainer/2009/02/what_does-a_hollywood_producer_do_exactly.html

 

Deaf People- Famous Deaf Actors & Deaf Actresses. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Sept. 2016. Retrieved from http://www.lifeprint.com/asl101/topics/famous-deaf-actresses-and-actors.htm

          

           DeafMovies.org – A Resource for Finding Films in ASL. N.p., n.d. Web.01 Sept. 2016 Retrieved from http://www.johnlubotsky.com/deafcinema/

          

           “Deaf- Short Film.” IMDB.com, n.d. Web 01 Sept. 2016. Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/list/ls052271081/

 

           “Difference between Movie and Film.” N.p., 04 Sept. 2015. Web. 01 Sept. 2016. Retrieved from http://www.differencebtw.com/difference-between-movie-and-film/

          

           Heffernan, Catherine. “Can Hearing Directors Make Deaf Films?” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 28 Nov. 2007. Web 01 Sept. 2016.) Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2007/nov/28/canHearingdirectorsmakedea

 

           IMDb.com, n.d. Web.05 Sept. 2016. Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/          

 

           “Diary of a Deaf Filmmaker, Month 6: Do Deaf Filmmakers Have an Advantage over Hearing Filmmakers?” The Limping Chicken. N.p., 01 Jan. 2015. Web. 01 Sept. 2016. Retrieved from http://limpingchicken.com/2015/01/05/deaf-filmmakers/

 

           Medoff, Mark, Hesper Anderson, and Lloyd Fonvielle. “Children of a Lesser God.” (1986). N.p., 20 Nov. 2005. Web. 05 Sept. 2016. Retrieved from https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/children_of_a_lesser_god/

 

           “The Difference Between a Director and a Filmmaker.” Work. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Sept. 2016. Retrieved from http://work.chron.com/difference-between-director-filmmaker-21077.html    

 

           “The Disability Film Challenge.” The Disability Film Challenge. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Sept. 2016. Retrieve from http://www.disabilityfilmchallenge.com

 

 



 

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