What are the possibilities for communicating sound in film – without audio – when you’ve never heard any sound?
Wayne Betts Jr., an up-and-coming filmmaker, doesn’t consider that a limitation. He will give a talk on “Deaf Lens: Deaf Perspectives in Filmmaking” for the annual ASL/Deaf Culture Lecture at the University of Virginia on April 9 at 7 p.m. in Nau Auditorium.
The event, free and open to the public, is sponsored by U.Va.’s American Sign Language Program in the College of Arts & Sciences. Spoken English interpretation will be provided for hearing nonsigners.
Betts, who was born deaf, has directed or worked as a cinematographer and film editor on several full-length films and short film projects, among them “Gallaudet: The Film” and “Vital Signs,” which aired as part of the PBS documentary, “Through Deaf Eyes.”
“Gallaudet: The Film” is about Gallaudet University, which Betts attended before transferring to the School of Film and Animation at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Betts will discuss how his distinctive style as a filmmaker came into being when he began attempting to translate deaf people’s experience onto the screen. Showing examples of his work, he will explore such questions as: What are the possibilities of communicating sound, without audio, through editing and camera movements? How is it possible to create visual scripts using American Sign Language as a blueprint to guide the filmmaking process?
Betts makes his films according to cinematic principles that highlight ASL and the deaf experience. He does not consider these principles limiting but uses them to free up his filmmaking: creative camera movements and long takes are just two trademarks of his cinematic style.
In addition to filmmaking, Betts is vice president of creative marketing at Convo Communications. He currently resides in New York City.