Louder Is Not Always Clearer
Film & TV
Can you hear me – who would ask a Deaf man that?
Jonny Cotsen was born Deaf. Growing up in a hearing family, wearing hearing aids and lip reading, he never really thought much about his Deaf identity. It wasn’t until his 40s he really began to explore what being Deaf meant to him.
Jonny teamed up with theatre company Mr & Mrs Clark to create a performance piece that tells his story using physical theatre, dance and audio-visual elements. We were asked to document some of the show’s development, a journey we were lucky and proud to follow.
Following the huge success of the show which saw it tour and sell multiple venues, including a well-reviewed run at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Jonny was offered the opportunity to pitch for some Arts Council Wales funding in conjunction with BBC’s Culture in Quarantine thread and arts organisation, The Space. The funding enabled him and Mr & Mrs Clark to develop the show into a short film. We were over the moon when Jonny asked us to assist.
A successful application led us to working with a script consultant who helped us transform elements of the theatre show and write some new scenes. This helped create a script that took the viewer on an entertaining and educational audio-visual time-travelling adventure.
Shot in two long, but fun days, the 15 page script arrived in the edit where we paired visuals with big stylised animated text to make the film accessible to a Deaf audience. This was combined with effected sound design that served in turn to place hearing audiences in Jonny’s shoes.
“Thank you On Par for creating a safe and welcoming space. You understood how important that the film was fully accessible, it was an incredible experience.”
The film premiered on BBC iPlayer and toured around the world, from New York to Sydney. It has won multiple awards including Best Sound at The British Short Film Awards as well as Jonny winning Best Actor at Deaf Fest.