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02/08/2010

'Four Weddings' Actor Backs Student Film Script

A script written by Screen Academy Wales students tackling the isolation of deafness is to star Welsh-born deaf actor David Bower, best known for his role as David in Four Weddings and a Funeral. The Wrexham-born actor has agreed to play the lead character in a sensitively written student film 'Little Voices', the tale of a bereaved and isolated deaf man struggling to cope with losing his partner.
Written by Chris McFall and to be produced by Chris Colton and Glen Biesker, the micro-budget film is the product of careful research into pre-linguistic deafness by the trio of postgraduate film students from the University of Glamorgan, a lead partner of Screen Academy Wales.
Writer and Director Chris McFall explained: "We are thrilled to have such a renowned British actor taking part in the film, but more importantly the right actor. Regarding David's looks, attitude, and background, but most importantly David's ability to express great depth of character, without needing to speak a single line, that is a rare talent."
Co-Producer Chris Colton contacted David Bower through his company Sign Dance Collective and sent him a production pack and script, asking him to play the lead role. He said: "After reading the script, David contacted me to express an interest in the project. We met earlier this month to discuss the film and he was impressed with the script and research, telling us that of the many scripts he has read regarding deaf people, Little Voices was the best."
Bower will juggle several commitments in order to star in the student film. Alongside a busy acting career, Bower is the Creative Director of the international dance, music and theatre company, Signdance Collective, lead by deaf and disabled performers. His most recent project is the development of accessible radio plays for the deaf and hearing impaired with BBC Radio 4.
Bower commented: "The research for this film has allowed a substantial philosophical underlying energy which underpins the story. A lot of film scripts concerning disability or deafness are 'well meaning pap', where-as this piece is unsentimental and uncompromising.
"To me it is a strong metaphorical description of the semantic divide between deaf and hearing people and explores an interesting area of human perception and communication. The script is edgy, punky and gritty, and from an acting point of view should be fun to do."
The postgraduate student crew aim to work closely with members of the deaf community throughout the projection process, and hope to show the film in local schools to increase awareness of hearing impediments. Chris Colton said: "It is essential that young people are made aware of hearing impediments. Having David on board has allowed us to consider other further options when preparing the film for its release, and we hope it will inspire younger deaf people to produce films in the future."
The student film will benefit from extra funding support and the use of HD camera equipment from the Academy. Screen Academy Wales Project Manager Hannah Raybould commented: "We are delighted for the three MA students in attracting such a high calibre actor. Having read the script, we were impressed with the way Chris has portrayed the complexities of deafness from the perspective of a deaf person. The Academy's contribution is designed to boost production values and we look forward to a well-crafted and sensitive piece."
The crew of Little Voices will start shooting in early August for a period of four weeks with a final completion date set for February 2011. Chris Colton said: "We plan to organise several local showings of the film in South Wales before entering it into the film festival circuit."
(KMcA)
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