Putting the Accessible Filmmaking Model into Practice: An Exploration of Media Accessibility and Translation as a Collaborative Process
University of Roehampton, London
Year of enrolment: 2019
Accessible and translated versions of films for sensory-impaired and foreign viewers are typically produced during the distribution stage of film production, with minimal input from filmmakers (Zdenek, 2015). This model can have negative effects on the quality of these versions, as their production remains outside filmmakers’ control (Romero-Fresco, 2013), leading to mis-interpretations by accessibility professionals (Udo & Fels, 2009) and to the alteration of films against filmmakers’ wishes (de Higes-Andino, 2014).
My research concerns an alternative model called accessible filmmaking which brings together filmmakers, media accessibility professionals and translators to collaboratively produce accessible and translated versions of films (Romero-Fresco, 2013). To explore the integration of accessibility and translation into the different production stages, the research applies accessible filmmaking to the forthcoming feature film Chaplin, funded by the BFI and directed by Peter Middleton and James Spinney, whose debut feature, the BAFTA-nominated Notes on Blindness (2016), dealt with issues of accessibility. The research also extends the accessible filmmaking model by including sensory-impaired consultants in the process.
Working as the film’s director of accessibility and translation, I will conduct ethnographic fieldwork through participant observation, coordinating the production of accessible versions (subtitles for the hearing-impaired; audio description for the visually-impaired) and creating a guide for foreign-language subtitlers. The fieldwork will take place on set and in meetings between filmmakers and accessibility professionals, and I will collect data via audio recordings, fieldnotes and interviews.
The written thesis will report on the extent to which accessibility and translation were successfully integrated into the film's production. It will analyse the impact of this process on the accessible and translated versions and on the original film, and it will also present new professional figures (sensory-impaired consultants and the director of accessibility and translation). In sum, it will contribute to our understanding of accessible filmmaking theory and practice.