EARLIER this year, Scot, Gerry Hughes, became the first deaf person to sail single-handed around the world, passing all five capes.
And his story is being told this evening, in Silent Odyssey: Incredible Stories, on STV at 2100.
Here, producer, Paul Hineman, at 5 Minute Network, answers the questions…
Who commissioned the programme?
We were commissioned by Elizabeth Partyka, deputy director of channels, STV.
Explain the thinking behind the production’s ‘look and feel’
This is an unusual one for a director; the bulk of the film was shot by Gerry Hughes, the main contributor. We couldn’t be with him at any part of the journey, so we waved him off and crossed our fingers. For eight months. The footage came back and we were quietly thrilled – we knew we had raw, dramatic material and that we could craft a film around it.
Who are the key personnel? How were they recruited?
Aside from myself, the core team was very small. We co-produced with AC2.com, which specialises in deaf and hard-of-hearing TV productions, where Joel Kellhofer and Kay Hughes helped bridge the language gap – Gerry uses British Sign Language. My business partner, Derek Munn, co-ordinated the edit, and Gavin Murdoch cut the film. Jack Coghill mixed the sound and composer, Chris Cooper, scored to pictures – sometimes providing new pieces of music within hours of receiving cut sequences.
What kit and software?
The bulk of the film was shot by Gerry on two, small HD cameras called GoPros – we gave him clamps so that he could set up shots quickly and easily and the cameras could be locked fast to something solid. We cut on Adobe Premier and used noise-reducing software to clean up some of the shots. Animated graphics were by Pete Cotter and Ewan Watson at Touzie Tyke and we also incorporated some beautiful, traditional rostrum camerawork by Malcolm Paris.
What have been the main production challenges?
The biggest challenge was reaching a true and accurate translation of Gerry’s eight months worth of video diaries. It’s a very unusual film in that it features extensive British Sign Language but is aimed at both a hearing and a deaf audience. So we had to do a bit of a balancing act. When Gerry is talking about something specific, we would naturally want to cut away to it – and the moment you do that you’ve potentially lost the deaf audience – the hearing still have the actor’s voice to bridge the gap. Subtitles will help, of course.
What did you most learn and enjoy from the experience?
It is without doubt an amazing story – a real adventure and, as filmmakers, we simply enjoyed bringing all of the elements together to make what we hope is an engaging film. Gerry sailed around the world – he did the hard part! It’s good to come across a story and have the people, resources and the broadcaster behind you to help make it a reality and bring it to a wider audience.