John Gomez – M.A., CCC-SLP
Director, WHEN I STUTTER
Speech Language Pathologist
How would you briefly describe your film?
WHEN I STUTTER is a film that reveals the humanity that exists within an often mysterious malady. Over the course of nearly five years, 19 people (from all walks of life) shared stories about how stuttering has impacted their lives. From the depths of hopelessness to the heights of redemption, these stories will change how you view stuttering.
What do you want people to know about your film that isn’t obvious from its title?
WHEN I STUTTER has been met with positive feedback from a wide range of audiences. I keep hearing from people that don’t stutter how it really changed their perspective on stuttering. I really feel like the objective of the film is being met when I hear things like “I had no idea what stutterers go through” or “I didn’t know what to do until I saw that section in the film.”
Sometimes, an audience member who stutters will stand up after the film and thank me for telling “their” story. Even though that person was not in the film they related to what was being conveyed on a personal level. To me, that is absolute gold.
What led you to become a filmmaker?
I had an unusual path into filmmaking. My only real training was through making over 75 wedding videos. Which is actually really good training for documentary filmmaking because you only get one shot to capture key moments and you better get it right or else!
One day while sitting in a speech pathology class I was watching an older documentary on the subject of stuttering. I liked the content, but I thought the production value was dated. I figured that I could make a documentary on the subject of stuttering that was modern and would engage today’s audiences. Little did I know how steep the learning curve would be.
Basically, I learned a lot about filmmaking by making WHEN I STUTTER. From talking to more experienced filmmakers, I have been told that “doing” is the only real way to learn so, in that respect, I feel good about my path. I’ve since shot my second documentary and it was certainly smoother from many standpoints because I now have some experience under my belt.
What does the future hold for your film and you?
I hope to continue raising awareness of stuttering through WHEN I STUTTER. I think that I owe it to the stuttering community to make sure that these stories get heard far and wide! What does the future hold for me? I just hope that I get to keep making movies!
This interview was originally written on the Keen Eye Productions website and adapted from an interview with the Borrego Springs Film Festival.