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New horror film ‘A Quiet Place’ starring deaf actress Millicent Simmonds highlights various aspects of deaf culture

The new horror film starring Millicent Simmonds, “A Quiet Place”, is another film to hit the cinemas highlighting deaf culture.

Stars also include John Krasinski (director), and Emily Blunt. The film is set in the future and focuses on a family trying to survive after an alien attack. They use sign language to communicate and defend themselves from aliens. The aliens, who have hypersensitive hearing, rely on sound to hunt, attack and even kill their prey (animal or human) if it makes any sudden noise.

This film features many aspects of deaf culture including sign language, hearing technology and uses sound effects to create an environment for people to have an idea what it is like living in a world with limited sound.

#DeafTalent continues to rise

Co-written by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, the script featured a Deaf character. They recall director Krasinski insisting to cast a Deaf actress to play the character to make the character realistic. Beck shared Krasinski’s push for hiring a Deaf actress to the Huffington Post.

“We always had a deaf character in the script, but John really pushed for them to hire Millicent,” Beck said. “She came to set and taught everyone sign language. It was really amazing and brought an extra depth to the film.”

“A Quiet Place” is another example of #DeafTalent, a movement encouraging Deaf actors to be cast for Deaf roles, rather than hearing actors. Others that also highlight #DeafTalent; are Oscar winners “The Shape of Water” and “The Silent Child”, to name a few.

Read more: Why this year’s Oscars was important for deaf culture

Like her character Regan, Simmonds is also Deaf in real life, communicates with American Sign Language and is an advocate for the Deaf community.

Read more: New movie ‘Wonderstruck’ shines spotlight on deaf culture

The cast using sign language on set

In the film, Regan views herself as a burden on her family because she’s Deaf, however it turns to work in her advantage as she is gifted with sign language that her family uses to communicate.

As Beck previously said, Simmonds taught sign language to everyone while on set. 

Simmonds spoke about her experience using sign language on the set in an interview with HelloGiggles.

“We had a deaf ASL advisor on set and an ASL interpreter on set to help with communication.” She said. “When there were scenes between me and another character that required a lot of emotion if they were intense, then I would talk with the other actors, either John or Emily. We would come together and then we would explore the signing — what it would look like and what would be a natural way to respond. So I helped out a little bit. It was great.”

Through a combination of a team effort including Simmonds, the ASL advisor, and the ASL interpreter, the actors were able to learn sign language and use it in the film. 

Not only does Simmonds’ character use sign language, but the film also features her hearing technology including a cochlear implant.

Bringing Deaf struggles to light

The narrative of the film brings to light the struggles that Deaf people face and raises awareness of the importance of sign language within the Deaf community and their families.

Krasinski described Simmonds as a “guide through what it’s like to experience the world without hearing it”, which helped him make the film more realistic.

 

Millicent hopes this film will inspire other directors and screenwriters to cast more #deaftalent.

She also told NowThis News she wishes to “show (her community) you can do anything, anything you want to do is possible. Just work hard and people will recognize that.”

What did you think of the film “A Quiet Place”? Let us know in the comments. 

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Ellie Parfitt
Ellie was born profoundly deaf, uses verbal communication, lipreads and wears Phonak hearing aids. She is currently learning British Sign Language. Ellie hasn’t let her disability stand in the way and embraces every new challenge. Her deafness didn't prevent her from achieving major accomplishments in her life, such as excelling in her education, working as a Marketing Executive for a Spa & Health Club, Events and Promotions Staff for a local newspaper as well as blogging for Hearing Like Me. She is passionate about deaf awareness, campaigning for equality and helping others through her personal blog as Deafie Blogger.

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