We recently shared news about how the Deaffest team had been very busy organising the signed song music video project, which took place recently in Birmingham from 20th to 23rd April 2017.

Music Video Producer Stacy Lawrence and Performing Artist Rosa Lee Timm travelled all the way from the USA to join the pre-production meeting, which took place on Thursday 20th April. Zebra Uno & Zebra Access‘ Directors Nikki Stratton and Marilyn Willrich who took on the role as Executive Directors in this project, Film Director Bim Ajadi, Director of Photography Alexandra Boanta, Production Manager Jack Smallwood, Choreographer Chris Fonseca and PR Liaison Officer Lou Parrott attended the meeting and it was a great start to the project. The discussion took place throughout the full day, with both expertise and many great ideas and being shared amongst the group, who were exploring various ways of collaborating on the project. With just three days to produce the video, there was certainly no time to rest on our laurels!


The music video project, the first of its kind to be produced in the UK, involved a collaboration of deaf artists from the USA and the UK coming together to give young deaf people an opportunity to learn about the different cultures and languages, and to be inspired by the artists. The Deaf Film Camp in America, which was founded by Stacy Lawrence, inspired the idea of the music video project and, while we’re passionate about supporting and developing the talents of deaf people, we wanted this project to specifically empower young deaf people and allow them to express themselves through dancing and signing to songs, as well as to meet role models and enjoy themselves.


“I’m really excited about this project and collaborating with an international artist makes the project even more exciting. Overall I am really looking forward to working with everybody. I hope the project will inspire the next generation and continue their dreams. Anything is possible!” – Chris Fonseca, Choreographer

The film crew which included the Zebra Uno media team had a very early start on the chilly morning of Friday 21st April. Working in Birmingham’s creative quarter – the Digbeth area where the walls are illuminated with colourful graffiti works, the crew set to work capturing Chris in action with his hip hop style of dancing (which even got a couple of passer-by joining in the dancing!) Later on with further filming took place, this time with Rosa signing to Yolanda Adams’ song, I Believe, and then busting some moves with Chris!

The team spent the next day at the Ruddock Performing Arts Centre in Birmingham where they led a workshop and the young deaf people had an opportunity to learn about the making of music videos, signing songs with Rosa and trying out dance moves with Chris. The participants also had the opportunity to experience American Sign Language and learn how ASL differs from British Sign Language.



The workshop continued the next day, Sunday 23rd April at the Ruddock Performing Arts Centre where the young deaf people had a great workshop led by Stacy and Nikki learning about Deaf films. Later on, the participants practiced dancing ready for their performance that afternoon in the ‘Raising the Bar’ showcase.


The showcase is part of the National Deaf Children’s Society’sRaising the Barcompetition. Raising the Bar was first launched in 2015 with a purpose to give deaf children and young people in the UK an opportunity to do something they enjoy and to develop their talents, as well as raising deaf awareness through the arts and making dance, music and acting more accessible for deaf children and young people. This year is the 3rd year running for Raising the Bar and the competition consisted of four different workshops led by deaf professionals; Music and the Deaf, Deafinitely Theatre, Deaf Men Dancing and lastly our workshop led by Deaffest.

The participants from the four workshops got together in this showcase and showed the audience their talents! The young deaf people who participated in our sign song music video workshop put on a fantastic show with Chris, signing their song and doing some dancing!

“We thoroughly enjoyed seeing this project come to life and we’re proud of this wonderful team who have worked hard to make this happen! It has been an amazing experience watching ASL and BSL work together on such a unique project like this. This was about the kids being inspired and letting their confidence grow and this experience will allow them to follow their aspirations/dreams.” Marilyn Willrich and Nikki Stratton, Deaffest Co-Founders

“Raising the Bar 2017 was a huge success, with each young person putting on a stunning performance at the showcase whether it was playing a musical instrument, dancing, acting or signed singing. With the right support, deaf children and young people can achieve anything their hearing peers can, and every young person who came along definitely raised the bar. We were delighted with how the event went, a huge congratulations to everyone who took part!” – Bryony Parkes, Youth Development Officer for NDCS

The four-day project saw much collaboration amongst the team and presented exciting challenges. Not only have we have learnt from each other, but we have also inspired one another through our culture, language and expertise.


“It’s been a really challenging project in a good way and I would do it all over again. It’s been great working with a fantastic team.” – Bim Ajadi, Film Director

We would like to thank all the individuals involved in making the project happen. The music video will be launched on Saturday 13th May 2017 at Young Deaffest in Cinema One at Light House Media Centre, Chubb Buildings, Fryer St, Wolverhampton WV1 1HT from 12.30pm to 2pm. Don’t miss out!

“Dreams don’t work unless you do. Dream it. Believe it. Achieve it.” – Chris Fonseca


About Deaffest

UK's Leading Deaf-Led Film and Arts Festival

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