Your upcoming movie I Need a Sign - in a few words, what is
The upcoming film I Need a Sign is based on many true life situations a parent (hearing)
having a deaf
child and listening to doctors' views on the best communication (spoken
language) - but for the deaf child they are denying them the right to be
deaf, to learn to sign.
Eventually the mum (Annie) played by Sharon Spink [Sharon Spink interview -
click here] and Jesse learn to
sign their connection, and their bond grows. The father, Chris (played by John Naylor),
at the end of the film saysíI love youí in sign language which
brings them together as a family.
Now I'm sure the message of I Need a Sign
means a lot to you, and I'm guessing it's (also) based on personal
experiences - want to elaborate on that?
Yes itís also
based on the communication struggles I had with my mum from a being young child.
I never really had proper sign language at home, it was spoken English.
of inspiration when writing I Need a Sign?
coach sign language which gave me the initial idea, to link them both
can you tell us about the intended look and feel of I Need a Sign?
intended feel of the film is to bring to attention awareness of deaf
identity, sign language, and how to encourage people to feel comfortable to
lean the language to communicate with a loved one.
you're an actress as well, will you at all appear in front of the camera
in I Need a Sign, and if so, what can you tell us about your
Yes I am an actress, and no I am not going to be
in front of the camera for this one. Because I feel I am not a fit for any
roles at this time. However I will be behind the camera to direct and work
with the camera man to make sure itís right.
Do talk about your key cast, and why exactly these people?
Sharon Spink [Sharon Spink interview -
click here] is an
amazing actress from Northern
Star Acting, she also knows the signs for the film,
John Naylor is the image I have for the father and they are a fab fits for
the family I had in mind. But I still am in search for the child,
originally I was thinking a boy but now either sex is fine. Must be deaf
and can sign too.
As far as I know,
your movie's currently in its fundraising stages - so what can you tell us
about your campaign?
Yes itís in the fundraising stages,
I would love to pay the actors for a fabulous job, also I want to get the
film published and into film festivals - which cost money -, to pay for venues
and equipments. Which at the moment as it stands I will be paying, so will
Once the funds are raised, what's
the schedule? And any idea yet when and where the film might be released
onto the general public?
It will be entered to film
festivals and social media, my website, and I will enter it to medflies, the
more publicity the better, it will also be shown anywhere that requests
Any future projects beyond I
Need a Sign you'd like to share?
Yes I have a few more
projects up my sleeve and will be working on them one at a time. And most
of my projects are bridging the gap between deaf people and hearing people.
Sign language and spoken English.
From what I know,
you first entered the filmworld as an actress - so what got you into
acting in the first place, and what can you tell us about your training as
an actress? And considering your condition, did you ever feel you had to
overcome extra obstacles?
Yes I started acting as a child, I loved it, I went on to deaf drama
school for 3 years, but then it collapsed through lack of people. Which
left me feeling disappointed and because at the time I didnít have the
confidence to join a hearing one. I let life go by for 14 years and in
August I joined Northern
Star Acting, I went from someone who has very
little understanding and knowledge of the industry, and really shined
through the classes and inspired people with the obstacles I face, my
deafness, visual impairment, and my health has given me difficulties
recently, leading me to think on the things I want to achieve and goals
that I had for 5 years time and achieving them now. But instead of
letting them break me I used it as a way break the walls in front of me
Everyday I face obstacles to be me, and I have no shame saying some days
are harder than others. Iíll go into some details, I had meningitis as
a child it left me with a lot of difficulties, losing my hearing
overnight, which for a child is a big trauma, overcoming deafness,
losing my vision as a young adult threw spanners into the works, learning
to live with new abilities and understanding what the future may or may
not hold for me. And having dyslexia on top which was diagnosed late at
the age of 19, part of dyslexia is again memory problems. Reading and
writing, speech and language hasnít been my strongest points, but
through sign language I use BSL again, it is picking out the important
words to get messages across. Living with both sight and hearing loss is
not easy but I have NOT for 1 min let it barrier/define/limit what I can do,
I have found ways round it, I have opened my mind to other
What can you tell us about
your filmwork prior to I Need a Sign?
Prior to doing
this film, I have been extra in The Hunters, Suicide Kelly,
role in the feature film Hello, and one of the films they cut my part out
because they werenít happy with it. And because I wasnít getting much
work I decided to bring work to me through my own creation, my own ideas,
and looking at films out there thereís very little involving the deaf
community so my idea is to mix it up a bit and involve everyone.
you want to pick up work behind the camera as well eventually?
The main reason I am doing this is because I have always seen that
thereís a way to bridge the gap between deaf and hearing communities and that
I need to break the wall to show that everyone is an equal in society,
so equally both language and both communities should unite as one to
help and support each other.
What inspired me took me a very long time to achieve, I grew up with
the saying deaf people canít work, deaf people canít do this &
that, and it was conditioned into me, however I have always been
rebellious, I achieved GCSEís and college qualifications that school
told us we canít, I got a job for 4 years and left on disability
discrimination, everything in life has been against me and I have
challenged them head on. Dealing with bullying at school, because I am
academically bright and know what I want from life and fought every door
that has closed upon me, and never accepted the answer no.
If thatís not inspiring, then I donít know. I am naturally a
rebellious person and will fight for what I think is right.
would you describe yourself as an actress, and some of your techniques to
bring your characters to life?
I describe myself as a actor that does well, that has the advantage of
both spoken language and sign language, I actually believe I am very
expressive and more in character when I sign, because I donít know
different vocal tones and how to adapt my voice because I havenít had the hearing or been taught how
to. I am not saying I wouldnít put myself out to learn but at the
moment I donít have the knowledge. I can do a variety of regional
variations in sign language naturally, Cockney, Leeds, London,
Birmingham, Scotland etc because I have met so many deaf people through
my life. However we learn new things everyday and I LOVE learning and
CHALLENGING myself with new things.
filmmakers, whoever else who inspire you?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
People that inspire me, really anyone that puts themselves out there,
but Cherylee Houston and Deanne Bray, both of them have
disabilities and are fab actors, also another big inspiration is both of
my coaches, Eirian Cohen [Eirian
Cohen interview - click here], business and mindset coach, and Molly Simpson
my acting coach. Encouragement and determination bring us out to be the
real us, finding our purpose in life, helping with acting skills and
giving us the pushes we need to go forward. And a fantastic tribe of
support at Northern
Star Acting, the tribe is full of like-minded people
that are succeeding. I have said this at many stages - impossible
= Iím possible, and itís true!
My favourite movies are Annie, Oliver, favourite
TV programs Sue Thomas F.B.Eye, and BBC
seehear deaf programme, Switched
... and of course, films you really deplore?
donít watch enough films to dislike any.
movie's website, Facebook, CrowdFunder, whatever else?
else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
I would like to thank Eirian [Eirian
Cohen interview - click here] and Northern
for taking me on, giving
me a chance, and this just showed they made the right choice.
for the interview!