My Cousin Ronnie speaks with his hands. He has a unique relationship with his two sons, whom he cannot hear—and it is beautiful to watch Ronnie, who is Deaf, communicate with sign language.
When I learned about the film project, Father’s Day Breakfast, I immediately thought of Cousin Ronnie and his boys. The short film highlights a dad who is Deaf as seen through the loving eyes of his hearing son.
Lipreading Mom can’t think of a more fitting time for a tale of a dad and son than now with Father’s Day approaching. Director Natalie Simpkins recently sat down with me to share more about this compelling story and the real-life inspiration behind it.
Lipreading Mom: How did you become involved with Father’s Day Breakfast?
Natalie Simpkins: Over a year ago I went to see the one-man play, The Good Boy, in Los Angeles. Michael Bonnabel, the writer and performer is a CODA (Child of a Deaf Adult) and his play is a memoir of sorts about his life growing up with deaf parents. I was profoundly moved and couldn’t remember the last time I had laughed and cried within the same performance. One scene, in particular, stood out for me: that of Michael going to a school breakfast with his father. I reached out to Michael and he allowed me to write this adaption, Father’s Day Breakfast, through which I hope to be able to similarly move a wider audience through film.
What inspired this story?
I realized quite quickly that there were very few films that had strong lead roles for deaf actors or that dealt with everyday life for deaf people. Most films or TV shows that I saw with deaf roles were portraying these characters as having a disability. I wanted to show that stories with deaf themes could be just as relevant to hearing and deaf communities. After attending deaf events I realised that children within the deaf community deserved to have strong role models that they could aspire to become and that, in order to achieve that, films and other media should strive to create performances of independent deaf people. Equally, that films with these performances do not need to be solely for deaf audiences, but that emotions are universal to all of us and that language is very much secondary to people’s ability to enjoy art.
How can LipreadingMom.com readers learn more about supporting this film project?
The Father’s Day Breakfast script has already inspired a number of talented performers and crew members to be part of the project. The wonderful deaf actor, Troy Kotsur, who just recently won Best Lead Performer at the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards, and who is currently directing the feature, SuperDeafy, is playing our lead. To find out more about the supporting cast and crew, please visit our Indiegogo page: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/father-s-day-breakfast–4 and follow our progress on our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/FathersDayBreakfast
Do you have any background with working with the Deaf? If so, what have you experienced?
My experience of working with the deaf community has been an incredibly creative and collaborative one. From the deaf actors and ASL translators at the various castings, through to the deaf supporters and creative collaborators on the production team. I am finding that my views on how to creatively portray scenes and emotions are growing. Just recently I went to a Greater Los Angeles Agency for Deafness (GLAD) event. The agency has endorsed our project and I went to meet more of the deaf community to spread the word about our project. At the event there were various performances from Asian Drummers. The whole room was vibrating with each hit on the drums and the audience was really feeling the performance. It is through experiences like this one, as well as the many open conversations that I’ve had with deaf supporters, that I’ve started to see just how much more creative my filmmaking style can be when working with deaf performers.
Any other information about Father’s Day Breakfast?
Father’s Day Breakfast is an independent short film project. That means that we are not financially supported by a large Studio. The only way that we can get to tell this story and to share it with a wide audience, is by having your support. We only have until June 2nd 2013 to raise funds on our crowdfunding platform, Indiegogo. On our Indiegogo page we have a number of prizes from acclaimed artists and deaf performers as a thank you for your contribution from as little as $10. Check it out here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/father-s-day-breakfast–4. The more people who add their name to our site, the more we can show the broader film community that there really is an audience for these sorts of films.
Readers—How to Get Involved
Learn more about the film project, and watch a compelling captioned interview with the filmmakers, at www.fathersdaybreakfast.com.
Are You (Or Do You Know of) a Parent Who Is Deaf?
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