This is the first of a number of Filmmaker Profiles highlighting some of our Gala Shortlist in advance of this year’s festival…
Louis Neethling developed a love of film from a very young age. He was born into a Deaf family and raised in South Africa, eventually relocating to England.
“…my love of film making and story‐telling developed at an early age, from my father. He was always making family home movies with his cine camera. Once I was old enough to be trusted with his ‘baby’, I would help in making these family epics.”
Neethling started his career working as a presenter on SABC (South African Broadcasting Corporation). This led to an interest in directing and he took a director and multi camera course. Louis became director and eventually executive producer of DTV (Deaf Television) where he directed his first dramatic piece ‘Young & Speechless’.
“That was it! I was hooked! I now knew what I wanted to do; I wanted to direct Deaf drama.”
Louis went on to win a ‘Rotary International Vocational Scholarship’ which allowed him to study in the UK and was where he created the short film Dis?ABLE. Louis relocated to London where he directed the BBC’s first sign-language drama, Switch. After this he continued with the BBC directing programme’s such as ‘Crimewatch’ and ‘Holiday’.
To gain more security and control over what he did, Louis set up company ‘Mutt & Jeff Pictures’ which is the only Deaf-led TV, film & drama production company. ‘Departure Lounge’ and the Deaffest nominated ‘Coming Home’ are evidence of the company’s approach to film by hiring Deaf screen writing talent and adapting stories to be told from the Deaf to the Deaf.
“….deaf lives, experience, culture and language were largely filtered through a hearing perspective. The result was, too often, inaccurate, patronising and badly informed which left the deaf audience frustrated and angry. Setting up Mutt & Jeff was an attempt to try and change all that.”
Coming Home has been selected in the Best Drama category at this year’s Film & TV Awards Gala on the Saturday night of the festival. Tickets available soon.