Scripting Presence Without Performance: Placing the Profoundly Disabled Child at the Centre of Motion Picture Narrative Fiction

Stephen Hay
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Profound disability is rarely depicted in the cinema, and almost completely absent in terms of seeing central character portrayed who have severe physical and mental disability. This paper will provide detailed insight into the creative elements challenged by the inclusion of a young and profoundly disabled character 'Eleanor' into a feature-length drama being developed for cinema. The issues examined will include: the effect on the process of writing narrative; ethical questions raised by working on drama with the profoundly disabled child; the implications for professional actors involved; the handling of a 'character' who brings powerful presence but cannot be required to produce conventional 'performance'; the effect and centrality of the disabled character's presence on the professional script development process. Sources for the elements covered will include the author's first-hand involvement in multiple drafting of the screenplay, and several example of script input by professional script-developers.

Keywords: Film narrative, Disability, Performance, Screenwriting
Stream: Media, Film Studies, Theatre, Communication, Ethnicity, Difference, Identity
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Stephen Hay

Lecturer in Audio-Visual Production, Institute of Communications Studies, University of Leeds

Lecturer in Audio-Visual Production; Specialising in teaching low-cost, high-quality digital production techniques and International Audio-Visual Communications. Graduate of the Northern School of Film and Television in directing fiction film production. Interests include the democratization of motion picture production through new digital technologies; the dynamics and synergetics of acting performance and the moving camera; dubbing, subtitling and the implications for the internationalization of motion picture narrative; the cinema of French film auteur director Bertrand Tavernier. Co-director of independent film company Rainfall Pictures Ltd currently involved exclusively in the development of a feature film for cinema working-titled Fly Drive, co-written in English and French with Suzanne Hope and set mainly in France.

Ref: H06P0284