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voice in exile

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Voice in Exile is a dramatic film journey into the mind and emotions of Alan Woodward, a seventeen year old stutterer. Seeing the world, both imagined and real, through Alan's eyes, we share the nightmare that haunts him and his family as he struggles to not let his stuttering stop him from living.

Statement of Purpose

My goal as a filmmaker was to capture the inner world of the stutterer through dramatic, symbolic, archetypal, and audiovisual expression. This was a deeply personal journey for me since I have been a stutterer for most of my life. 

The Process

The process began with the writing of the script. During the scriptwriting phase I delved into my own experiences and emotions as a stutter and tried to translate them into a dramatic story. I also interviewed other stutterers for additional research. The script was further developed while I worked with my cinematographer and production designer to translate the experiential reality of the stutterer into a visceral audiovisual language. Then I worked with the actor, Ben Bottoms, on both the physical aspects of stuttering and the emotional underpinnings. 

Throughout this process and the rest of preproduction, production, and postproduction, a profound inner battle waged within me. Part of me desired to share these inner experiences with others, while another part of me was terrified of revealing this deeply personal emotional reality.

Audiovisual Design

An audiovisual score was created for the film to explore the use of the expressive elements of space, shape, line, light, color, tone, rhythm, movement, orientation, time, contrast/affinity, sign, symbol and archetype in the capturing of the emotional and perceptual states of an individual who stutters. This score was developed from the my own  personal story and experiences, along with the stories and experiences of other stutterer's. 

The screenplay and storyboards were created concurrently with the visual score, enabling the integration of the visual design throughout the piece. 

The visual score included divisions for subjective and objective perceptions of waking reality (SPR/OPR); subjective dream states (SDS); and subjective developmental transitions (SDT).

Audience Response

A majority of stutterer's reported feeling as though the film captured their inner lives. This produced emotional release, a reduction in feelings of isolation, and an increase in self-esteem in numerous cases. There was one reported case of the film averting an individualís attempt at suicide. 

Families of stutterer's who viewed the material reported an increase in understanding and empathy for the family member who stuttered. 

Non-stutterer's reported an increase in understanding about stuttering and empathy for people who stutter.

Project Information

Title: Voice in Exile

Format: 16mm; Sound; Color.

Duration: 30 minutes

Featuring: Ben Bottoms, Jesse Ehrlich, Richard Sarradet, and Sarah Simmons.

Produced for: The American Film Institute, Los Angeles, California

Year: 1984

LC Control Number: 89706420 

CALL NUMBER: FBC 2336 (ref print)

Distribution: Original Gravity, Pacific Grove, California.

Awards and Honors: GOLDEN BABE AWARD, Chicago Educational Film Festival, USA - 1988; GRAND PRIZE, Blue Electra, Birmingham Int. Film Festival, USA - 1987; FIRST PLACE, Blue Ribbon, American Film Festival, USA - 1986; FIRST PLACE, Narrative Short, San Francisco Int. Film Festival - 1985; 
JUDGES AWARD, Sinking Creek International Film Festival, USA - 1985; SILVER MEDAL, Chicago International Film Festival, USA - 1985; FIRST PLACE, Student, Marin County Film Festival, USA - 1985; THIRD PLACE, National Educational Film Festival, USA - 1985; CINE GOLDEN EAGLE AWARD, CINE Awards, USA - 1985

Exhibitions: American Film Festival, USA, 1986; San Francisco International Film Festival, USA, 1985; Sinking Creek International Film Festival, USA, 1985; Chicago International Film Festival, USA, 1985; Marin County Film Festival, USA, 1985; National Educational Film Festival, USA, 1985; Mill Valley International Film Festival, USA, 1985; Deauville Festival of American Film, FRANCE, 1985; Los Angeles International Film Exposition, USA, 1985; Independent Feature Project West, USA, 1985; Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, USA, 1985; Minnesota University Film Society Exhibition, USA, 1985; National Stuttering Association National Convention, USA, 1985; American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, USA, 1985; British Stammering Association, ENGLAND, 1985; Speech Pathology Foundation, USA, 1985.

Broadcasts:  Cinemax/HBO, 1986; Arts & Entertainment Network, 1989.

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All images and text on these pages © Mark Allan Kaplan.
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