My goal as the filmmaker of VOICE IN
EXILE was to capture the inner world of
the stutterer through dramatic, symbolic, archetypal, and audiovisual
expression. This was a deeply personal journey for me since I have been
a stutterer for most of my life.
The process began with the writing of the script. During
the scriptwriting phase I delved into my own experiences and emotions as
a stutter and tried to translate them into a dramatic story. I also
interviewed other stutterers for additional research. The script was
further developed while I
worked with my cinematographer and production designer to translate the experiential reality of the stutterer
into a visceral audiovisual language. Then I worked with the actor, Ben Bottoms, on
both the physical aspects of stuttering and the emotional underpinnings.
Throughout this process and the rest of preproduction, production, and
postproduction, a profound inner battle waged within me. Part of me
desired to share these inner experiences with others, while another part
of me was terrified of revealing this deeply personal emotional reality.
An audiovisual score was
created for the film to explore the use of the expressive elements of space,
shape, line, light, color, tone, rhythm, movement, orientation, time,
contrast/affinity, sign, symbol and archetype in the capturing of the emotional
and perceptual states of an individual who stutters. This score was developed
from the my own personal story and experiences, along with the stories
and experiences of other stutterer's.
The screenplay and storyboards were
created concurrently with the visual score, enabling the integration of the
visual design throughout the piece.
The visual score included divisions for
subjective and objective perceptions of waking reality (SPR/OPR); subjective dream states
(SDS); and subjective developmental transitions (SDT).
This personally transformative filmmaking experience also appeared to have a
transformative effect on viewers of the film as well.
A majority of stutterer's reported
feeling as though the film captured their inner lives. This produced
emotional release, a reduction in feelings of isolation, and an increase
in self-esteem in numerous cases. There was one reported case of the
film averting an individualís attempt at suicide.
Families of stutterer's who viewed the
material reported an increase in understanding and empathy for the
family member who stuttered.
Non-stutterer's reported an increase
in understanding about stuttering and empathy for people who stutter.