Spoken Involvement

It’s been a week since I worked with the fabulous voice artist and describer, Willie Elliott to hone and record the 30 minute audio description (AD) for our PUSH ME documentary Total Permission in Bristol.

Ironically when we  first sat down to script the piece, there seemed to be more space than ever to fill and I wondered at the revelatory journey we’d been on as a team with this access stream – something we agreed at inception to deliver across our commission.

One of the best descriptions of AD was written 70 years before the term was invented. It comes from an account of a film show attended by blinded World War I veterans, which was enhanced by Lady Waterlow’s ‘happy way of creating mental pictures by flashes of suggestive description interspersed at appropriate moments’.

As part of delivering the AD – writing the short script and speaking it to time was my quite simplistic view that in order to do this, we had to leave space.  There’s a real tension between a filmmaker wanting to make the film they want to make (and in 90 seconds) and the describer needing to relay what’s going on.  Our decision to pre-empt and precis action in 20 plus second intros for the 90 second pieces was felt to be a good thing, a sound compromise and became a strength and ident of the 24 strong collection for those who were able to find the AD button in our very own PUSH ME player on The Space.

In some of these short films, dance sequences with natural space just cried out for description and in doing these we arrived at something else.  Treading the fine line of too much spoken involvement and too little in the films has been a challenge and delight and when I feel that I’ve not only made something more accessible to someone who cannot see but have added a different texture altogether, that’s been a personal coup for me and our PUSH ME project as in  Claire Cunningham’s first film in the collection, perhaps the clearest example of this and reviewed here by Disability Arts Online.

I can’t wait to hear the final audio edit on our our documentary Total Permission mixed yesterday, which will premiere on The Space soon! Why don’t you go PUSH a few AD buttons yourself – there are 24 to sample?  Let us know what you think.