Sunday, January 27, 2013

Big D or Little D Controversy

I say it time and time again. "Every time I make a film ,I get a new education", this time is NO different.Yes that is a Big N.

When I made my first feature film "The Goal" I learned about TBI and SCI.(Traumatic Brain Injury and Spinal Cord Injury along with Quad & Para, and what it means to be on Quad time or to work your program).With the 2nd film Dandy Kids, I learned about DWS & DWM, Hydrocephalus, and shunts,and on and on.(Dandy Walker Syndrome,and Dandy Walker Malformations)The 3rd  feature was a different genre altogether,so lets move on to the current and 4th feature film project "Spirit of Love".

In the process of making this film I learned about Big D and Little D.While our film may not be Big D it is Little D with some Big D moments.Big D is Deep Deaf Culture, no exceptions.Our film is not steeped deep in Deaf culture.It is a film that raises awareness of the differences that exist within the deaf and hard of hearing communities to educate the hearing communities.It is a film that promotes and inspires teens or anyone who has ever felt different or lacking in skills to "Just Do It" try it,dream it.  It is a film that opened the door for many deaf & hearing teens to have an experience of a lifetime.

Just like the differences that exist in each American there are numerous differences within the deaf & hard of hearing as well.I have even been told Deaf encompasses Hard of Hearing, but even that brings controversy.

I made a clear decision that I wanted to use deaf teens to tell our story and not hearing teens.However what I soon learned was that there are many variations of deaf. Most of the teens who auditioned for our film grew up with different levels and types of hearing loss for a wide variety of medical and non medical reasons.It was anticipated by me that all of the kids who showed up would be fluent in ASL.They were not.I learned that most have grown up with a combination of different modalities which work for them and their families.Some use hearing aides,lip read,have implants,and some of their signing is not true ASL.Some use English signing while others use something in between.Even my own nephew uses hearing aids and without them he hears nothing.

Obviously when you have adults who grew up learning sign language over 50 years ago they are more English and not ASL.Even adults or children currently suffering recent hearing loss will not be fluent in ASL overnight.

As a director and producer and teacher I learned a long time ago to focus on the positive of what each actor,teen or person brings to the table.If I chose to cast all hearing teens then I would not adequately be representing the story.If I refused to use the teens who showed up and discriminate against them because they were from the Little D world, then I would be hypocritical to the message and purpose of the film.

The teens and adults in our film represent the modalities of communication which are right for them.It works for them.Their accents are authentic.How they speak is exactly how they speak.They are not like actors in some productions, who fake a deaf accent to emphasize hearing loss.
Its inevitable that no filmmaker anywhere is going to make a film that everyone agrees on and in the case of "Spirit of Love" I am no different.
At the end of the day I am proud of our film and all of our "Spirit of Love" family who brought their amazing gifts to the set each day and delivered a truly inspiring film and story.Our film is causing discussions and inspiration so we did our job.
Here are some recent quotes recently received.
The coaches from the movie inspired me. It's a good movie, very encouraging.

The movie tells us that deaf can do anything and it's a really inspiring story. It shows us that we can work hard and suceed.

"Always play hard no matter what and don't back down no matter what". This quote from the movie hit me. Thank you for the movie - Kentucky boys.

The movie seemed to inspire our boys from Kentucky. In my opinion, I'd like to see more signers in the movie so it will impact Deaf children more and tell them that we are capable to do anything.

The positive aspects of the movie: it showed a diversity of deaf individuals (deaf, hard of hearing, signing, oral, disabled, mixed races), emphasized discipline, good feedback and reinforcement shown by the coaches in the movie.

The negative aspects of the movie: too oral, not much ASL usage, not culturally Deaf.

I feel the movie showed too much of an "hearing attitude" to Deaf.

 Signed English not ASL was the dominant language.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Essence of the story

The purpose of our film, the Essence if you will for "Spirit of Love" is to Bridge the Gap between the Deaf and Hearing communities with the Hearing, through this inspirational film.It's not about changing one or the other but about acceptance and working together.

I've been so busy preparing for next week in Los Angeles, and in 20 days I will be attending the first public Film Festival screening in Houston.This is always a nervous time for a filmmaker.You get to see live reactions of audience members.We get to see if we did our job first hand.As a Producer and Director I often forget to stop and enjoy the journey.

This week I was asked to pull production stills and actual film clips from Spirit of Love along with B roll footage and interview clips which were shot in Georgia this past June at the actual 33rd annual Mike Glenn camp for the DHH.The clips and info are being sent to a very large organization that can help promote our film. (More news on this coming soon)

In doing this exercise I discovered some diamonds in the rough and gems along the way.This story and film began a long time ago.Watching the interview clips which haven't aired anywhere reminded me of why I did this film and want to share it with multitudes.

It's about the teens, and the kids.It's for everyone who has ever been told they can't do something.Or for everyone who has negative false beliefs about themselves.This film can and will heal deep wounds of the heart.It  has a purpose and a place.Watching this clip I remembered I'm living my Dream and you can too,even if others tell you that you can't.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Indie filmmaker or used car Salesman or both

As an indie filmmaker I  feel a little like the little engine that could chugging onward or upward.The other image that comes to mind is the little plastic ball that one places a pet hamster in while watching it roll around all over the place.Better yet, a Used car salesman. Many in the industry compare indie filmmaking to the latter.I know I certainly do.

Well our film Spirit of Love is done,and ready to make its US festival premier at the Texas Christian film festival.  scroll down to our film and reserve your seats.Many ask why? Why not Denver?Especially since we shot it in Denver with Colorado talent this past August in tremendous heat.(thats how you know we were serious) The answer as in filmmaking is not an easy simple one.

The main reason they invited us.It was never a part of the original plan.But neither was the death of a key distribution ally.So for those who don't know festivals are part of the strategic plan.We were also waiting on some local sponsors in Colorado that did not materialize so we are starting the adventure of promoting and selling the film outside of the Rocky Mountains.
This is an avenue that I have done before. Its part of the business.We dont just screen the film for anyone.Its about getting  the right people and audiences to see the film and share it with others.Specifically the media.The process is non stop.You hock your wares constantly and appropriately.

Texas provides an avenue that is perfect for inspirational family films.Which I am proud to say, is what we have.
We are extremely happy to announce that we are screening in Houston during NBA allstar week,and actually we screen the night before the big game.For this very reason we are thrilled to be receiving
promotional marketing support from the NBA and NBA retired players association.

We are hopeful that we will make some noise down in Houston and be able to parlay that into more interest for our film. As I have said before it is part of the process.

I hope you will continue to support the film by promoting it to your family and friends.
Please ask them to like it and share it with their friends.

If your going to the NBA allstar game come early and join us for the festival.
A lot of fun and activities happening as well including Chili cook off,hot dogs,shooting hoops,etc
is all part of the pre game show for our film.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

46 days and counting!

You are Invited! 46 days and counting till the US premier of Spirit of Love which will be held at The Texas Christian Film festival in Houston.
NBA player Mike “Stinger” Glenn plays himself in this wonderful film inspired by his real life Basketball camps for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing. In a unique casting, deaf & hard of hearing, and hearing actors work together and deliver a film which is authentic, charming, competitive, funny, and challenging.
Spirit of Love is a diverse coming of age story. A group of misfit teens arrive at the 33rd annual basketball camp, which is the first time girls will attend the camp. Some come with hoop dreams, while others are trying to survive tumultuous teenage angst.
Alexi arrives angry and at odds with his Dad Coach Phil, while Ford wants everyone to know he’s more than Deaf, and Maddie thinks everyone sees her as a freak. Not only do they learn life lessons through the game of basketball, they soon learn what it means to soar like Eagles, Win or Lose.
Spirit of Love will motivate, encourage, uplift and inspire all audiences.
The film features an amazing score by Alex Grant and a beautiful title song “Spirit of Love” co-written by Producer, Director Darla Rae & Nashville’s 2012 Inspirational Female vocalist of the year Laura Dodd and is performed by Dodd, who also appears as herself in the film.
The film was filmed in 14 days with a team of 20 ASL interpreters.
Spirit of Love recently was awarded the Dove Foundation seal of approval and Four Doves.
The Dove Foundation has been advocating and approving family films for 20 years. The Dove Foundation says, “This inspirational and remarkable story just may have you cheering by movie's end! We are pleased to award the film our Dove "Family-Approved" Seal for all ages. See this one soon and it just may give you a spark when you most need one!

The film will screen with captions so that deaf & hard of hearing audience members may enjoy our story. Filmmaker Darla Rae and cast members including Mike Glenn will be available for Q&A following the film. Shoot Hoops @6:00pm w/Mike Glenn.
Great film for youth groups, sports teams, and perfect for a night out as a family.
Cost to attend the screening is free, however reservations are required. To make reservations please visit the Texas Christian Film Festival website at
For more information about the movie visit or email