Nothing To See/Hear is a short sci-fi film based in a future Britain where a mysterious virus has taken away our ability as humans to speak, thereby resulting in the human race having to communicate solely through sign language. Hope arises for Gemma, a single mother, and five others, when they hear about a new, underground operation that may be able to restore their ability to speak. The film consisted of two crew members, Reece Taylor-Long as Director and Adam Nicholls as Director of Photography, and was written, shot, and edited in less than 40 hours, as part of the Sci-Fi London 48 Hour Film Challenge. The crew were given a short brief consisting of the title of the film (Nothing To See/Hear), a prop that had to be included (6 playing cards, including an ace), and a line of dialogue that had to be included (Thanks for the warning, it’s only several days late!), and were given from 11am on the 7th April until 1pm on the 9th April to make and submit their film for the competition.
Nothing To See/Hear focuses on the people who would exist in this futuristic world, and how they would react if presented with an opportunity to have a voice once again. Each character has their own personal reason for wanting to undergo their operation, which range from crude to heart-warming. The film explores parenthood, what makes us human, and the question of how we would function if our primary source of communication was taken away.
This project aims to have an emotional impact on the audiences who watch it, but it also had an impact on the people who worked on it. Below are a few words from the Director, DoP, and two of the actors who worked on the project about how they found the experience and what they are taking away from it.
Lottie Bourne – Gemma
This film really shows the power (and even the beauty) of silence. It was such an exciting yet surreal experience. For the first time, I was approaching a film from a completely different angle. Learning sign language was like learning how to speak again. In my acting, I always like to challenge myself and explore my capabilities as a performer. This project certainly tested my abilities and uncovered a different way of how I could tell a story to an audience.
We had a limited time frame to rehearse and film the project, however I personally felt that this didn’t restrict us in anyway. We were proactive in getting the scenes done efficiently, and the actors were so articulate with the sign language and performed beautifully. It was such a good team to work with and we ended up with this beautiful piece featuring a touching message.
Adam Nicholls – Director of Photography
In our infinite wisdom, myself and Reece decided to take part in this 48 hour film competition slap bang in the middle of a two week intensive film course. We got the brief at 11am on Saturday 7th, giving us the title of the film, a line of dialogue and a prop that we had to include within the film. (We also had the added constraints of not having any sound recording equipment or lights. Not only that, as we were on this intensive film course, the film had to be edited by the end of Sunday). By 3:30 am on the Sunday we had finished shooting. It’s probably the only project that I’ve been involved in where everything seemed to fall into place perfectly in such a short amount of time.
The on set experience was amazing, although tiring towards the end. The actors did a fantastic job at learning sign language in such a short space of time. And everyone was incredibly patient with us, staying up till 3:30 in the morning to get it finished. It would have been great to have some more equipment to work with though, especially a tri pod, but that’s what made the film so much more challenging and ultimately more enjoyable. It was great trying to work around these hurdles which I think has given the film its own unique visual style.
Christopher Mulvin – Matt
When hearing about the project genre from Reece, I knew immediately this project would be a challenge. I had no knowledge of sign language nor had I previously used the method of nonverbal communication. Once realising it was such a unique concept and story line, I was fascinated with the idea, therefore I became determined to deliver a genuine performance by understanding the method of sign language. The filming process itself was a very professional and comfortable experience due to the hard combination of work with cast and crew, from the rehearsal period through to filming. I sincerely feel that I have gained a new experience in this subject matter and I can take away with me the positive outcome which is mainly due to working with such a talented team.
Reece Taylor-Long – Director
I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to make my debut into directing fictional film with a story and film I can be so proud of, and this is largely due to the talented and patient team that I had the honour of working with. Everyone worked hard to make sure this film was the best it possibly could be, from agreeing to be on a project that was set to start filming the same day, to learning the sign language they needed to know in less than an hour before shooting began. Even if Nothing To See/Hear doesn’t win the competition it’s been entered in, I know I’ve come away with a film and an experience that has taught me a lot about film and has also allowed me to collaborate with some amazing talent.
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