In this field I learned early on that there are at least 1000 ways to be deaf. It depends on family, education, location, self determination, medical interventions, etc. It’s one of the better parts about this work; no one consumer is ever the same as the last or the next. Keep that in mind as you read on.
In the Spring of 2012 we were contacted by an independent film company. They’d been working on a film about a former NBA star who runs a basketball camp for the deaf, and were putting the pieces together to begin filming. Darla Rae, the driving force, wanted to cast D/deaf and hard of hearing teen actors and knew that she’d need interpreting services to make it happen. I was immediately drawn to her project. She had a great story to tell and she seemed to know how to do it. In addition to interpreting services, it became clear to both of us that she needed a guide to the local DHH community.
In the beginning, Darla and I talked at length about reaching out to the signing Deaf community. She envisioned a film where lines wouldn’t necessarily be spoken, but rather signed. After months of phone calls, meetings, auditions, and more phone calls, Darla had to alter her vision. Many of her calls to DHH school programs and community organizations to invite actors and crew to audition went unanswered or were never followed up on. The cast she had planned for didn’t materialize. Some of the strong signing parts were won by D/deaf and hard of hearing actors who are oral, lip read, or use a more English signing style. Plans changed, the script was re-written.
Once we were on set, I realized that the assembled cast and crew was actually a pretty fair representation of the community that Rose Interpreting serves. From our excellent ASL and Deaf Culture Consultant to one of the stars of the film who decided after auditioning that he’d rather speak his lines than sign them, I saw a linguistic and cultural cross section of this community. What’s more, I saw dozens of people who were committed to this project and telling a wonderful story.
As a hearing person, I love a good idiom. Throughout this process I was encouraged by this one: “Dance with the one that brought you.” She’s dancing with this cast and crew now, winning awards on the festival circuit, and sharing a sweet and important story.
Take a look at the trailer for “Spirit of Love: The Mike ‘Stinger’ Glenn Story”