Sightless Cinema Workshops with Sight and Sound

sightless cinema

 

Sightless Cinema is a programme that started in 2014 with the aim of involving people with sight loss in creating audio and radio drama. The first project was commissioned by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and was presented in cinemas as a live event for a blind and sighted audience, with immersive surround sound but no pictures on screen.

The group has been going strong since and have had screenings in various cinemas in Dublin over the last few years. For the past four years they have been based in the Rua Red Arts Centre in Tallaght, Dublin, where they met until Covid hit, as Director Ciarán Taylor explains.

“In March of last year, we moved to Zoom, which was a challenge because we have some older members and everyone in the group has different levels of experience with technology. We started recording online and put a series of episodes of a comedy called The Covid Tapes together.”

To help with the move online, Sight and Sound Technology Ireland has been delivering training workshops since late 2020. The workshops cover digital recording, editing, sharing files and exploring software for all of these elements. This is enabling members to learn more about the technical side of the plays they produce, and to create their projects independently from start to finish.

“The course is empowering,” says Ciarán. “We’re learning together and it’s opening up new possibilities – for example, we are producing a podcast now as part of the course. The content and instruction is tailored to the group and then to the individual to make sure that everyone is developing skills. I’m also learning about the accessibility of different platforms and software.”

Everyone can find a role in the group – whether it is writing, acting or technical and digital support. Michael Lavin, who has been involved with Sightless Cinema since 2017, has found the Sight and Sound classes very rewarding. “The classes are very interesting and it’s been something new to get my teeth into. I worked with computers for 30 years so that gave me an advantage. Stuart leading it is fantastic – there’s nobody better to teach a blind person than another blind person because they explain it in a way that you can understand. Learning to edit has been a great sense of achievement for me and I enjoy learning more advanced skills.”

Michael has progressed so much that he is now working with a smaller group outside of the Sight and Sound classes, helping them with the technology at a gentler pace to ensure that they get the most out of the workshops.

The group are currently working on a series called Ballymuck Exchange, set in the 1970s and based on the experiences of some of the group, who were employed as telephonists in the past.

Sightless Cinema is funded by South Dublin County Council Arts Office, Creative Ireland and South Dublin Local Enterprise Office.

 

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