This blog follows the process of the making of a short film, ‘Seeing Comes Before Words’. It is a film about illiteracy in adults in the UK. The main focus of the film is the story of a young man called Danny, who at the age of 20 is unable to read or write.
From his social life to his working life we will hear, from Danny himself, how he gets on in everyday-life being unable to read or write, and how other aspects of his life have impacted on his ability to become literate.
I also believe that the film will highlight problems with literacy in the UK and will act as a platform for further discussion. According to the National Literacy Trust, 5.2 million adults in the UK are functionally illiterate (having a level of literacy where they are unable to pass an English GCSE).
The examination of illiteracy in adults does not only shed light on societal issues but is extremely interesting anthropologically and philosophically. It is fascinating to see how a person places himself in a world, where the majority of people can read and write and they cannot. In ‘Ways of Seeing’, John Berger writes that, “ Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognises before it can speak”. Before we become literate, we recognise and see things and language comes afterwards. The importance of literacy is highlighted through the written word constantly surrounding us every day, on signs, packaging and written modes of communication. Which suggests that a person, who cannot recognise the written word, must ‘see’ things differently and looks for different cues and indicators to place themselves in the surrounding world. The reliance and importance of being unable to recognise the written word means that this person must feel a kind of displacement in society. This intrigues me and I would like to discover how Danny places himself in terms of the aforementioned.
This film will only be a modest attempt to merely scratch the surface, of a topic that has potential to be explored further than I have done so. However, I hope that what I have explored and my portrayal of Danny and my ideas comes across well to the viewer.