September 2008 - November 2008: Issue 28
A Special Issue On Deaf Performing Arts

People

Filmmakers

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Wayne Betts, Jr.

Studio head shot of Wayne Betts Jr.

Mr. Betts studied filmmaking at the Rochester Institute of Technology film program. In partnership with Chad Taylor, a Rochester Institute of Technology alumnus he formed Mösduex, a multimedia production company. Mr. Betts' film, "Vital Signs" was featured on the PBS documentary, "Through Deaf Eyes." Mr. Betts was not available for an interview because he was busy planning his wedding.

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Ann Marie 'Jade' Bryan

Head shot of Ann Marie ‘Jade’ Bryan smiling.

Ms. Bryan was born in Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies. She is a graduate of the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. In 2007, Ms. Bryan appeared on ABC's American Inventor and advanced through three rounds to the top semi-finalists. Among her many achievements, was the establishment of DeafVision Filmworks in 1991 to support deaf filmmakers. In 1997, she founded JADE Films, an independent film and entertainment production company that strives to raise consciousness about Deaf and hard of hearing African-Americans and Latinos.

How were you drawn to filmmaking?

I wasn't drawn to it. It discovered me when I registered for the film program out of curiosity because there was no major in advertising. When I picked the film program, I wasn't sure if I made the right decision. A guidance counselor helped me and made sure I took beginning film production courses and beginning acting craft to test the water. I've been producing films since it discovered me, letting me know that I had a gift to tell the world stories.

What kind of films do you make?

I do mostly documentaries. I produced and wrote my first feature film, which since 2001 I have been trying to complete. I can't believe it's taking me forever to finish that baby!

Do you incorporate audio in all of your films?

Yes, I do. It's a must for me, especially if you want to crossover and attract hearing audiences.

What is the toughest challenge you face as a filmmaker?

Raising money. Being the only deaf filmmaker at hearing film festivals.

What three words describe Jade?

Ambitious—determined—unstoppable

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Tracey Salaway

Smiling head shot of Tracey Salaway

Ms. Salaway has a MFA in computer animation from the Rochester Institute of Technology. She is a professor in the Art department at Gallaudet University. Her film "That's My Marshmallow" appeared in the 2007 PBS documentary, "Through Deaf Eyes."

How were you drawn to filmmaking?

I consider myself as an artist first with a passion for film. I love capturing visual clues, using lights and shadows. I enjoy editing.

What kind of films do you make?

I lean toward documentary and experimental films, since they can be produced on a very small budget.

Do you incorporate audio in your films?

I tend to incorporate sound in most of my films because I believe providing a sense of continuity is necessary. I want the audience to be totally attentive and not be distracted by a lack of sound.

What are you looking to do next?

I plan to produce a feature documentary film, "De'VIA" (Deaf View/Image Art). I hope to document the Deaf art movement, which was officially formed during the '80's.

What three words describe you as a filmmaker?

Imaginative—experimental--innovative

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Mark Wood

A medium shot of Mark Wood leaning on a rock with a moutain in the back.

Mr. Wood attended Gallaudet University and taught American Sign Language in Indiana, It was while teaching that he realized he wanted to make films.

How were you drawn to filmmaking?

As a child, my parents often rented subtitled films; these movies stimulated my imagination and were the initial spark that fired my artistic interests.

How did you learn filmmaking?

I am self-educated. I learned an incredible amount about filmmaking from the Internet. I learned through trial and error. I prepare well. I just have an innate ability for this craft.

What kind of films do you make?

I have made a variety of films, and I plan to explore all genres.

Who are your audiences?

The Deaf community. ASL students. But my ultimate goal is to mainstream my films into the "hearing" world. That will be my toughest challenge.

What inspires your films? What motivates you?

The knowledge that Deaf people can do whatever they put their mind to. My films are totally, 100% Deaf culture, linguistically correct and clearly signed. Deaf people can relate to my films. The support I receive from the Deaf community is what motivates me.

You do not use audio in your films. Why is that?

I would love to incorporate sound into my films, but remember—my primary audience is the Deaf community. Often when the Deaf community watches my films they watch them in libraries, deaf clubs, theatres and other places with no sound systems. And again, it is primarily Deaf people watching my films, so what is the point of sound? Not only that, but sound equipment in the world of filmmaking is incredibly expensive.

What three words describe Mark Wood?

Determined—successful--passionate.

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