Making Films Intended for BOTH Deaf and Hearing – Difficulties EncounteredApril 6, 2015
With high hopes that more films aimed at both Deaf and hearing audience be made, I want to share my experiences as a hands-on editor of Deaf films to would-be filmmakers. First is understanding that sign language is a visual language. By doing so, expect that oftentimes they cannot synchronize at all times affecting thus the captioning or subtitling of the film. Expect that at times, the voice or sound bytes maybe longer than the signed interpretation, or vice-versa. Signs may compress in simple movements the messages in words. Or, the concept or essence of the words are summed up, so they end up shorter. At times, signs maybe longer, when the need is there to expound for the Deaf the meaning of the words to better understand the message, or the thoughts better. Multi-track layers, usually picture-in-picture are a must in making films for the Deaf.
I am currently working on El Verdadero Decalogo for The Sublime Paralytic and Pule: Utak ng Rebolusyon. And I have encountered said difficulties. Both films are our tribute to our hero, Apolinario Mabini. It is aimed to be multilingual To be used are: Filipino Sign Language, reading of El Verdadero Decalogo – Ang 10 Utos [translated by Jose Villa Panganiban] in Pilipino, with subtitles or captions in English. A reshoot has become a must for a Decalogo that was signed too short it lost the rest of Mabini’s message.So, to make my life less complicated for the rest of the work that also needed FSL interpretation, I have decided instead to have a hearing interpreter. It would be like interpreting news reports for television. I have done that for the interviews and the problem is not that much. Knowledge, even of little FSL helps in editing sign language with the audio. I have studied basic Filipino Sign Language at SDEAS, my collaborator with NCCA for these projects but as I do not use FSL daily, I can only understand simple signs. So, I always have Febe Sevilla as my buddy interpreter. She is, I believe one of the best FSL interpreters in the country. Project Mabini comes after Project Rizal, the first of the historical subjects that I have worked on. Febe is a history teacher and a budding historian, and as I lived and worked with my brother-historian Dr. Isagani R. Medina — groupy of foremost historian Prof. Teodoro Agoncillo — in the publication of his books and writings, working with Febe makes my work with the Deaf easier. We discuss history without much questions as to who, what, when, where and why. But I am not a historian. LOL! Last words: Editing mainstream narrative films is much, much easier than editing documentary films. When the film is intended for both Deaf and hearing, the process becomes longer. Though both are satisfying to do, editing Deaf films is much more challenging. There is that perennial language barrier problem, basically for me as a hearing person who is not adept at FSL. But it can be overcome. You just have the will to do it. And Patience!!! Though easier to do, when the narrative and mainstream films I edit are worthwhile [like Rizal sa Dapitan and Bagong Bayani OCW], I feel as happy and fulfilled as when making Deaf films. However, whenever I finish a film for the Deaf, there is always triumphance of feeling, not just joy — for overcoming and accomplishing something that is not so common. And that feeling is true, for all the personal advocacines that I have done so far.