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Melissa Mostyn gets a few words of advice, while her muse becomes disabled / 6 July 2010

Daryl Jackson as Luc in Game of Life, directed by Nick Sturley

Daryl Jackson as Luc in Game of Life, directed by Nick Sturley. Photo: Samuel Dore/courtesy of Neath Films

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I cannot help but laugh at the irony of what I am about to write.

Isobel, my muse, has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. It is a peculiar twist of fate that the main source of inspiration for my project – and the biggest impetus for a DAO blog – should herself be disabled. Suddenly the term ‘deaf and disabled’ takes on a whole new spin.

That is not to say, of course, that the film concept is invalid. (Basically, it’s an experimental drama that contrasts two milestone birthday parties thrown by hearing people, twenty years apart. The first party is viewed from the perspective of a deaf woman; the second, that of her hearing, non-disabled daughter – a CODA – who has grown up in a BSL-using household.)

Rather, Isobel's diagnosis highlights how one person can influence you in quite disparate ways. Already I am conceptualising deaf parenting stories involving first suspicions, diagnosis, coping strategies, signing milestones etc. Nothing too schmaltzy, you understand. Ah, the joys of flexing one’s imagination! 

But I digress. For now, I’m sticking with the original story: it’s a good one, and I want to see it made. I’ve emailed my draft script to a few professional film directors, and they all seem to like it. One said that it had legs and that he hoped I would contact him again once I’d worked some more on the dialogue, which was very encouraging. 

Another thought I should apply to Zoom 2011, the deaf film-making scheme produced by Neath Films and commissioned by the British Sign Language Broadcasting Trust (BSLBT), a not-for-profit body responsible for increasing sign-presented programming on TV. Samuel Dore, a film director and a friend who I admire, is attached to the scheme as creative consultant. 

I am sorely tempted. I thought the last batch of Zoom films – the first time Neath Films ran the scheme – was fabulous, especially G.A., which I've mentioned before, and Nick Sturley’s Game of Life, about four deaf men gambling with a supremely evil dealer. Most were films I could feel a strong affinity with. Ooh, I am hungry. I have got to deliver. 

My biggest challenge, though, is the story development. I understand perfectly the principle of having a beginning, middle and end, but I'd like to bend convention a little too. Could I achieve this in a debut? Could I be cheeky and rely on artistic instincts? Or go with it and please the crowds? 

At least I am not following tradition by creating a Deaf comedy with a cogent storytelling element. Plenty of people do that already (and some do it very well indeed). Deaf drama has its fans too. Of course, like any aspiring film-maker I want to be original - but is that possible on celluloid anymore? Shouldn't that decision lie with the audience?

Keywords: codas,deaf culture,film,story telling,