This site now acts as an archive only. For the latest news, opinion, blogs and listings on disability arts and culture visit

Disability Arts Online

Melissa Mostyn-Thomas gets selected for Zoom 2011 / 28 October 2010

Zoom logo

Zoom 2011: this year's Deaf film-making scheme

Zoom in to this image and read text description


I'm all ready to go with my pitch pack for Zoom 2011 and the online showreel promised by a friend still hasn't materialised. I decide to put the Vimeo channel link on the application anyway (it does have other examples of work Neath Films can look at) and post it by next day special delivery. 

Two weeks later, I'm shortlisted for interview. I shout 'Hooray!' and then groan, as I realise the interview date clashes with the first day of a family holiday in Crete. It can't be changed. Thankfully Neath's James Tracy is flexible and suggests Skype instead. 

In the notification email I'm told to be prepared to pitch my idea. Keen to get this one right, I decide to ask last year's 'Zoombies', as James calls them, for advice. Through the various helpful tips they give, I get the impression that there's no real set format; Neath base their questions on what the application says. I decide to just be myself and let the enthusiasm shine through. 

Come that day though, the interview doesn't really feel like an interview. It's the end of a long day for Neath, and the challenges of communicating live via Skype - with the short time delays that it entails - mean that sometimes I don't get to finish my answers. I enjoy describing my idea about two generations of women - one Deaf, one CODA in a series of David Lynch-style tableaux - so much anyway that it doesn't matter. There's a relaxed ambience, with Sam Dore leading throughout and an interpreter doing the voice-overs off-screen. I never see James or his work partner, Maverick Litchfield-Kelly, on-screen. When Sam introduces them, one by one, all I get is a hand waving from one side, then the other side of the screen. It's very funny. 

You can see this one coming can't you? Well, I wouldn't be writing about it on dao otherwise, would I? Of course I get selected. I'm thrilled. Not only do I get to have my first shot at making a broadcast short, I also get to work with a production company that I really like the sound of. 

Induction day is both absorbing and overwhelming. There's just so much to learn: backing up, who has the final day (BSLBT, being the commissioner), the role of the colourist, engaging with your actors.

I'm intrigued to learn that although application intake was up on last year - when Neath ran the scheme for the first time - standards weren't quite as high. Neath had to ask BSLBT if they could select five instead of six film-makers, so to avoid lowering the tone and wasting money. (£2,000 might be small for a TV drama, but it's a lot for BSLBT to give away. And of course, Neath Films also offer £2,500 worth of production support on top, so they won't want to be endorsing film-makers they don't believe in.) Of course, BSLBT are fine with that. 

James Tracy says we are lucky to have the induction day. Last year's 'Zoombies' didn't have this opportunity - which, it must be admitted, is saying a lot about how talented and committed they were. Kudos to all of them. 

They also didn't have a script development period. We have until Christmas to get our scripts ready and signed-off by BSLBT's Chief Executive. Filming should start in January - with the possibility of the five films getting shown on Film4. I can't wait.  

Keywords: deaf culture,film,zoom 2011,