Amanda, a hard of hearing woman, burns through a grueling training regiment in pursuit of her lifelong dream of being accepted into the military. Her boyfriend, Ben, disrupts Amanda’s exercises with important news which questions Amanda’s motivations for the relationship and her sense of love.
Writers: Amanda Richer, John Marcucci
Director: John Marcucci
Producers: John Marcucci, Amanda Richer, Jack Yan Chen
Longhand is essentially about a marginalized, but driven, character who is unexpectedly confronted by raw, vulnerable love. Amanda’s focus, perseverance and ambition to achieve exactly what society has told her is impossible become a hindrance to her accepting the personal love and affection from the most supportive person in her life.
The basis of the story was derived from the actor (Amanda Richer) and her own experiences being rejected from the RCMP. While this provided a strong goal and desire for the character, it was the personal relationship of her lover and trainer which is the true emotional underbelly of the film.
Auditioning is an invigorating and fun part of the process for me. While holding auditions for my previous film, Amanda approached me with her personal story.
As an actor, Amanda has an incredible range of physical expressiveness with her body. What normally could be viewed as an obstacle – communication through sign language – was an opportunity and a gift from her.
While developing the script, I became very excited by the ability of both characters to be more expressive, but also physically hindered, with sign language as the main mode of communication, while their bodies are occupied by the training exercises. How the character’s physicality changed once the workout suddenly stops and the emotional weight increases was also a fantastic, challenging dynamic as a filmmaker.
I have to give a tremendous amount of kudos to Jesse LaVercombe who played Ben. We initially cast a deaf actor from the US (Amanda had worked with him previously) who had to drop out of the project only days before the scheduled shoot due to a family emergency. We were also under a tight schedule since we wanted to submit the film to a specific deaf film festival: the Toronto International Deaf Film and Arts Festival.
Coming into the production, Jesse had no experience with sign language and he had to learn his lines within 72 hours. Since the backstory of his character was that he was not born hard of hearing but had come to learn sign language fairly recently after a hearing injury during a tour of active duty in the military, I actually had to tell Jesse to not be as fluent as he had become with his sign lines.
Jesse is an accomplished theatre actor but at the time of the shoot this was only his second film. I am grateful for the work and dedication that the actors and crew put into this film. It was an intensely physical shoot over one day in a relatively small space. Amanda was coming down with a terrible cold and was sore and ill for at least a week after the shoot.
About John Marcucci
Coming from an academic film background (University of Toronto’s cinema studies program) and having unwittingly entered therapy as an infant with his psychoanalyst mother, John is a fringe storyteller who likes to explore marginalized characters and question the merit of societal conventions and taboos.
He often delves into traumatic psychological dramas with heavily burdened and flawed characters that are searching for catharsis.
John is also a graduate of Vancouver Film School and the Canadian Film Centre’s writer’s lab.