Silent comedy ‘WHAT?’ to be featured in local film festivals

LOS ANGELES — Charlie Chaplin shot silent films at the corner of Lillian Way and Eleanor Ave. in Hollywood. So did Buster Keaton. Extra just lately, so did John Maucere and Alek Lev. Their movie “WHAT?” is a characteristic-duration, black-and-white silent film about a deaf actor striving to make it in Hollywood.  

What You Need to have To Know

  • Bulk of forged and crew on “WHAT?” is deaf
  • Director Alex Lev is the previous vice president of the Worldwide Buster Keaton Society
  • The movie attributes a number of destinations exactly where Keaton shot. The actor’s excellent-granddaughter appears in the film
  • “WHAT?” is taking part in at the Sherman Oaks Film Competition and was chosen for the Studio Metropolis Film Competition this thirty day period


“It’s a real story,” actor John Maucere reported, communicating in American Sign Language and remaining interpreted by Jon Wolfe Nelson.

In quite a few ways, it’s Maucere’s very own story. The actor stars as Don who is striving to get a director to seek the services of him. As a substitute, the director hires a hearing actor to play a deaf character and asks Don to enable train him to signal. Whilst it is a comedy crafted on a lot of degrees of miscommunication, it’s plainly born out of genuine stress.

“I made it due to the fact I needed to have deaf people performed by deaf actors,” Maucere signed. “I thought ‘let’s halt standing all over and complaining. Let’s get together and make a movie which is accomplished the suitable way.’”

Each actor participating in a deaf character on display is deaf. So are lots of of the crew customers together with Raven Taylor in his to start with experience performing as a crucial grip.

“It was my 1st time becoming in a position, a work environment, where there ended up additional signers than there had been non-signers and more deaf people than listening to people,” Taylor explained through an interpreter.

Even the film’s traders are deaf, leaving director, writer and editor Alek Lev amid the few folks on established who is hearing. He selected to signal through our interview to aid his cast and crew.

Lev has been deeply concerned in the deaf community, especially in the arts, because he took an ASL study course in faculty. That exact same 12 months he learned the movies of Buster Keaton.  

“I’ve been imagining about silent movies for 25 years,” he signed. “And I’ve been operating with the deaf group for 25 several years. So to provide the two collectively is amazing.”

He’s the former vice president of the International Buster Keaton Modern society. Keaton’s good-granddaughter appears in the film and the filmmakers incorporated lots of areas from the traditional movies into this 1, like the not too long ago renamed Chaplin Keaton Lloyd Alley.

“To see John strolling the same path that Buster Keaton walked is just, I suggest, come on, further than incredible,” Lev signed.

They even filmed in entrance of the TCL Chinese Theatre – which incidentally is exactly where the film had its earth premiere at the Dances With Movies Pageant, a person of 21 festivals they’ve been selected for.

Maucere, who when carried out the National Anthem with Alicia Keys at the Super Bowl, set out to make a comedy simply because he needed to make certain his listening to audience could relate to the material. Moreover laughter just assists individuals truly feel much more comfy.  

“In the starting when we ended up coming in, it was sort of like very robotic,” he explained.   “Hearing folks ended up like ‘Oh, we’re all around all these deaf folks. There’s indicator language. What do we do?’ And right after they noticed the film, every person was so jovial and having so a lot enjoyable and seeking photos built with all of us and that was the purpose of the movie.”

Things are transforming in the field with films like “CODA” and “The Eternals” which function a deaf superhero played by a deaf actor. The “WHAT?” crew is psyched about the improvements getting produced and proud of the film they developed on their possess conditions. 

“It’s a wonderful, kind of a the moment in a lifetime task for me,” Taylor signed.

“No!” Maucere insisted. “There’s additional coming!”

He’d also like to see a lot more alternatives for deaf actors to be regarded as for roles that weren’t exclusively created as deaf. “If a position is published for a listening to human being but could be adapted to be played by a deaf individual, I believe ‘why not?’” Maucere stated. “Right now there are a lot of pretty proficient deaf actors out there and the only variation is that they use American Signal Language. That is the only distinction. And signal language is lovely.”

He hopes “WHAT?” will open up the industry’s eyes to the pool of expertise they’ve been missing and serve as a model for what inclusive filmmaking can be.

“WHAT?” is actively playing at the Sherman Oaks Movie Competition and was picked for the Studio Metropolis Film Festival this month.