KELLY MACDONALD: I’m Kelly MacDonald.
RAMYA AMUTHAN: I’m Ramya Amuthan. We’re the hosts of Kelly and Company. And you’re listening to The Good Stuff.
KELLY MACDONALD: The Kelly and Company podcast where we get right down to it.
RAMYA AMUTHAN: All right, Kelly. We have a pretty awesome segment lined up for you guys right now.
KELLY MACDONALD: For sure.
RAMYA AMUTHAN: And it’s about films, because we love entertainment and culture here on our show. And nothing says that better than a film.
So here to talk to us about his award winning film called Step Into My World, is producer and director Nicola Di Capua. And we also have Wendy here, interpreting for him. Thanks for joining us.
NICOLA DI CAPUA: Hello. I’m very excited to be here.
RAMYA AMUTHAN: Yeah. We’re very excited to have you both here, as well, in studio. And, you know, we’ve been trying to coordinate this segment with you guys for a while now, so super exciting. Let’s start talking about the film. What inspired you to make this film, Nicola?
NICOLA DI CAPUA: I apologize that I forgot. I want to just explain that I’m deaf and that I have an interpreter here with me. And that’s why you’re hearing this voice.
RAMYA AMUTHAN: Thank you.
NICOLA DI CAPUA: Because I’m deaf, and I’m signing. So just in case people were wondering why there’s a female voice and I’m male, that would be why.
RAMYA AMUTHAN: Perfect.
NICOLA DI CAPUA: So about the film, I was really interested in doing a documentary that was talking about accessibility and equity for people who have hearing loss, for people who are deaf, people who are deaf/blind, and people that are hard of hearing. So this is about– this world is designed for hearing people and it’s not accessible for deaf people. And so my film was about switching the world over.
And so in my film, all the people who are involved are deaf. And the priority in communication is sign language. And so we were having a deaf world, and then we had a hearing person come in who was unsuspecting. And it was like an experiment. And it was very interesting.
RAMYA AMUTHAN: Sounds very interesting.
NICOLA DI CAPUA: And after the experiment was over, we asked a lot of questions that were of the hearing person and their experience. And that was part of the documentary, and what their response was like to be around a lot of deaf people who were communicating in a different way.
RAMYA AMUTHAN: Fantastic.
KELLY MACDONALD: So can we ask what some of that response was about from people as they were invited to step into Nicola’s world?
NICOLA DI CAPUA: They felt that it was totally inaccessible, and that they were totally unexpecting that this would happen. They had never met anyone deaf before. And that was part of the experiment. The person really didn’t know what they were walking into. And everyone on set was signing. Nobody was using their voice.
KELLY MACDONALD: Wow.
NICOLA DI CAPUA: And the hearing person was just dumbfounded. And they wanted to participate, but they were trying to figure out how that might work.
RAMYA AMUTHAN: Yeah.
NICOLA DI CAPUA: Have you seen my film?
RAMYA AMUTHAN: Not yet. We haven’t seen the film. And we’re excited to learn more about it, as well. And I’m actually curious how comfortable you felt, and people on set felt, having the hearing person there who has zero to very little experience with the deaf and hard of hearing community.
NICOLA DI CAPUA: It was a really interesting experience for all of us, I think. We felt that this setting was completely accessible. It was the hearing person that felt like it was not accessible. So it was like flipping the world on its end. And later on, they had an interpreter. We had an interpreter later on in the program, and talked about ways to break down barriers and improve communication.
RAMYA AMUTHAN: OK.
KELLY MACDONALD: That’s amazing. I want to know about with winning the award– of course, we can ask the question what does it mean to you. We’d love to hear that. But I think the bigger question is for people with hearing loss, deaf/blind or deaf, what does it mean especially in a circumstance like Ryerson and their first film festival?
NICOLA DI CAPUA: It was really amazing. It meant a lot to us. I want my film work to be recognized. By who? Other film producers, other professionals who can look at my film and recognize the quality and the content. And I think we really need to improve accessibility for deaf people. That I won meant that I have a chance, and the word can spread out in the community and other people can become more aware. Because people often don’t see a deaf perspective, so that’s the reason why this means so much to me.
RAMYA AMUTHAN: What were some of the challenges that you had to go through producing this film for the able-bodied world? Right? The world that’s– as you know, it’s difficult for you and it’s not built for a deaf and hard of hearing person. But were there a lot of challenges developing a film to still reach that audience?
NICOLA DI CAPUA: There were many challenges. When I first tried to get funding for the film to produce that– this is my first documentary. That was very difficult. So I sent several applications for grants, and was denied in several places, partly because I didn’t have this artistic background and I had never made a film before. But then one day I was really lucky. I was very fortunate. And I got the opportunity and got some funding. So that was the first step toward making the film. It was quite an overwhelming process for me.
And then the director– it was really important that it emphasized to the audience that people that are deaf and have hearing loss have frustration in their life, because they have a lack of accessibility and a lot of barriers in their life and communication barriers, and that there’s not equity. So as the director, I wanted to emphasize that. So the challenge was doing editing and making it work.
So that was the most challenging part for me, because I wanted the film to capture that idea, that concept, so that it’s not about– it’s about what was actually happening on the stage, and that the hearing person really was unsuspecting. And the challenge was, how could I make this film focus on this one hearing person who is in a deaf environment, and accessibility.
RAMYA AMUTHAN: Wow, very specific.
KELLY MACDONALD: For sure.
NICOLA DI CAPUA: And how can I give this picture to people in a way that they could accept this and understand better about accessibility for people with disabilities? So editing was a bit of a problem for me, and it took me a while.
KELLY MACDONALD: Yeah. The creation of the film speaks so much to people. But you’re also an advocate for deaf accessibility and awareness. How else are you encouraging people to spread awareness?
NICOLA DI CAPUA: I keep rolling up my sleeves and telling anybody who will let me–
KELLY MACDONALD: Yes.
NICOLA DI CAPUA: –about deaf accessibility and about accessibility in different organizations. I go to places where they let me speak. I talk about my dreams, and I just keep on going. And I talk about accessibility not just for deaf people, but for people who are deaf, blind, and hard of hearing, as well, anyone who has hearing loss.
KELLY MACDONALD: You’re a tremendous advocate.
RAMYA AMUTHAN: Yes. You attended–
NICOLA DI CAPUA: And I just had one more thing I wanted to say. I think it’s really important to advocate with government, and to get them on board provincially and federally, to be more involved with accessibility for people who have hearing loss, deaf and hard of hearing people, and deaf/blind people.
RAMYA AMUTHAN: I think a lot of people are on that.
NICOLA DI CAPUA: And we want sign language to be recognized as our language.
RAMYA AMUTHAN: Yeah.
NICOLA DI CAPUA: And we have English and French recognized, but we would like American Sign Language recognized, as well.
RAMYA AMUTHAN: Yeah. I think that a lot of people, especially on our show, we know and are aware of who’ve come on to say the exact same thing, and who are 100% on board with that path that you’re trying to create and helping create. Let’s talk about the Chang School Film Festival, and its Accessibility Studies course that you took. Can you give us a little bit of background on that and how it was for you?
NICOLA DI CAPUA: It was amazing. I was very fortunate, because I enrolled at the last minute. And I learned so much from that course. I thought that disabilities was a very small portion, and that we would just talk about that. But we talked about a very broad spectrum. We talked about people with cancer, people with muscular dystrophy, people with autism, people with a lot of different types of disabilities, visible and invisible, and how people had barriers that needed to be removed for them. So for building spaces, how to make the structure accessible.
We talked about different legislation under the local government, under the provincial and the federal government. And one thing I really liked, we talked about self-expression and how important that was. And this course really taught us to look at people not as someone having a disability, but as a person. And we were really encouraged to be creative in how we would solve issues, and not spending a lot of time identifying the issues, but finding creative solutions to the problems so that we could remove barriers.
KELLY MACDONALD: Yeah.
RAMYA AMUTHAN: Amazing.
KELLY MACDONALD: Well, I think we’re all a part of that, for sure, and wanting it to be so. Where can we learn more about your film and anything that you’re a part of, especially where you’re speaking out?
NICOLA DI CAPUA: It’s all on my website and my social media. So it’s my first and last name together.
RAMYA AMUTHAN: Perfect. Thank you so much for both of you for coming on today. I feel like–
NICOLA DI CAPUA: Thank you for inviting me to be here.
RAMYA AMUTHAN: We really did–
NICOLA DI CAPUA: And I hope the word spreads.
RAMYA AMUTHAN: We really did step into your world, as a parallel to your title. It’s very real to us. And thank you for walking us through the journey. It’s such a powerful learning process for you, as you explained, and for us and everybody else you speak to. Thank you so much.
NICOLA DI CAPUA: Thank you.
RAMYA AMUTHAN: That was producer and director Nicola DiCapua, whose film Step Into My World was a prize winner at the Ryerson University’s first ever film festival. We will definitely have him on our airwaves again. And his interpreter, Wendy, also joined us today on the segment.
KELLY MACDONALD: And shout outs to Ryerson. Awesome pick on this film. You’ve been listening to Kelly and Company’s Good Stuff.
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KELLY MACDONALD: And be sure to listen weekdays from 2:00 to 4:00 PM Eastern on AMI Audio.